Friday, December 23, 2016

The first season of Sense8 was an enthusiastic endorsement of the idea of connectivity. It was a show designed around the love of building community and connectivity wherever you could find it. It ended up being an earnest, joyful celebration of the universalities of human experience (with kick-ass martial arts). To say that it was the most hopeful show on television would not have been an overstatement. With that said I wanted to avoid a discussion of Sense8, the Earnest Joyful Show About Humanity’s Potential as Redemption of the Disastrous Year 2016. Sense8’s first season, after all, aired before Donald Trump even declared his candidacy. Almost a year and a half later, its “Christmas Special” appears in a world that considers global interconnectivity somewhat differently than it did in early 2015. A hack writer, I figured, would compare Sense8’s feeling of fundamental hope in humanity to the Trump and Brexit votes and general rise of right-wing “populism” in 2016, and I certainly wasn’t going to do that. And then Sense8 went and set the emotional climax of its “Christmas Special” to “Hallelujah” and I fucking lost it. I don’t think there’s anything more on goddamn brand for Sense8 than picking the most predictable for musical cue possible for a celebration of the universality of a single religion’s biggest holiday and somehow making it work. Let’s bear in mind that for many, the turning point of the first season of Sense8 was karaoke to one of the most cliched songs in the English language, “What’s Up” -- and then the Christmas Special goes and one-ups that in terms of earnest cliche that somehow actually engenders the exact emotional reaction it’s aiming for! (It’s also entirely possible that the song picked for the Christmas scene wasn’t originally “Hallelujah”--it is not diegetic in any way, meaning it could have chosen after Leonard Cohen’s death specifically to act as an emotional capstone.) Combine this with the global dance party AND a new orgy scene, and the “Christmas Special” was clearly making a play to be the most Sense8 thing to ever Sense8. Basically, Sense8 went and did the most goddamn Sense8 thing possible--and there’s no ground to complai