On August 8, Lana Wachowski, the creator and director of the Netflix queer sci-fi series Sense8, posted a heartfelt thank you message for fans of the show who helped revive show after being unceremoniously cancelled by Netflix in June 2017.
Netflix had initially turned down fan requests to un-cancel the series — an ambitiously diverse and international show featuring eight telepathically connected characters of different races, sexualities and genders from around the globe. At the time, the company wrote to upset fans: “We’ve seen the petitions. We’ve read the messages. We know you want to #RenewSense8 and we wish we could #BringBackSense8 for you…. but unfortunately we can’t.”
The show had been cancelled after just two seasons and a Christmas special. However, on June 29, 2017, the show announced that Netflix’s surprise decision to let the show return for one two-hour finale episode set to air sometime in 2018.
So, in a 15-minute thank you video featuring Wachowski and many members of the show’s cast and crew, she delivered the following message (presented here in full).
Here’s Lana Wachowski’s 15-minute thank you video to Sense8 fans
“In the midst of the scrambling chaos of getting this bonkers show back together and the problem solving and the ongoing crisis of every single day, I looked at the calendar and I saw the 8th was fast approaching. I suddenly heard the voice of Riley inside my head saying, ‘Hey you know, some things are more important than an emergency.’
“What I meant by that was: Look, there is always stuff going on. There’s always stuff going wrong. Something like the fact that Sense8 was brought back to life, which is every bit as much as storybook and fairy tale as Trinity kissing Neo, bringing him back to life, I think it requires a moment to just take a breath to appreciate it, to look around, admire the holy shit-ness of it all because what you fans did is quite frankly unbelievable.”
The video then cuts to images of websites announcing the show’s cancellation, fan heartbreak at the news and a clip of Lito histrionically screaming.
“Anyone who knows anything about this business, this just does not happen. The idea that a very publicly announced cancellation of a show which included a direct rebuttal to the fans after their initial response could be reversed by the persistent, passionate, rather creative campaign is a bit of the stuff of a Frank Capra movie.”
Many of Capra’s films, like the 1939 film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, shows the triumph of innocent “everyday people” against larger institutional powers.
After that, Wachowski says:
“The idea that this outpouring of love from Sense8 fans had for the show, that this would reach Netflix and convince them to reverse their decision is, let’s face it, maybe a little to schmaltzy (excessively sentimental) for most narratives today.”
The video then cuts to a clip of a Sense8 fan at a Pride parade, crying and silently proclaiming his love of the show from a distance as a rainbow flag idly sits at the edge of the screen.
“I think this is also a testament to a cool, radical, let’s say ‘unpredictable’ company that Netflix is. They really do care about the artists they work with, the shows they make and, probably most importantly, they listen to the subscribers, proving again and again that they’re not just a company run by an abacus.” (An abacus is a wooden frame with rows of beads for calculating sums.)
“It happened. You did it. It’s real. It was by all accounts a kind of populist uprising. And the most astonishing part of it is that you won and that is something that you won and that is something to celebrate.”
The video then cuts to myriad clips from the show of cast members dancing around. At another point in the video, it shows clips of the Sense8 characters singing the upbeat 4 Non Blondes’ tune “What’s Up,” a song sung by all of the telepathically connected characters (who are all in various states of despair) at the conclusion of Season 1, Episode 4. The song lifts their spirits and it reaffirms their newly growing connection to one another.
Here’s a video of “What’s Up” in Sense 8 Season 1, Episode 4
“Why I love this show so much, the way that art and life are constantly swirling and mingling together… I’ve never seen a show where it was so much of the personality, the story, the actual energy of the cast and the crew were in the fabric of the show itself.”
The video then cuts to the cast members thanking viewers and talking about the profundity of acting on the show. One person expresses that the love and spiritual connectivity shared between the show’s main characters mirror that of Sense8’s fans to the show and its creators. Another person claims that many fans around the world have become friends and lovers through their mutual affection for the show and its themes of unity and connection.
“I’m someone who thinks about the power of cinema a lot. I experienced it when I was young. And I saw transgender characters in films or television shows and they were inherently tragic or they were inherently tragic or they were a joke or a victim or, most typically, psychopathic serial killers. Those kinds of characters reflect the dominant narrative in our culture about difference: Difference is something to fear. Difference is something to laugh at. Difference is most importantly something that divides.
So when I pitched and said to Netflix, I told them I wanted to tell a different story about difference. I wanted to tell a story un which difference was not something that set us apart from each other; it was actually fundamentally the thing that united us because difference is the one thing that we all have in common.
Sense8 is different than most shows. I know that. It’s different on purpose. I know its sounds naive maybe even cheesy, but I wanted to show where anyone from any part of the world could be the hero. I wanted to show where women could be the best fighters and men could be sensitive. I wanted a show where anyone could fall in love and live happily ever after because when I was a little kid, those kind of shows did not exist.”
I get that pessimism and darkness are easy sales for gritty and the way the world is but look, hey you’ve gotta remember, we are standing on a rock that is floating in the middle of space and it’s spinning at a thousand miles an hour. And if gravity was just a little bit different than the exact magical force that it is, then we would fly off or we would be crushed. And that fact is almost as improbable and crazy and miraculous as the fact that Sense8 is back.
So to honor this gift, although I know I can never return its equal, I thought that all of us on this side of the camera could start by offering our thanks, so…
At this point, an excited woman whispers in the ear of different crew members, presumably telling them of Netflix greenlighting a final episode of Sense8. The cast members then say thank you and one reminds viewers that they are not alone and that they are loved.
Wachowski concludes, “The story of this collective effort and of your deep committed love will now and forever be a part of this show, and that’s beautiful.”