Sense8 brought whole new meaning to the term “mind-f*cking” during its two-plus seasons on air. (The plus being, of course, the special series finale Netflix made in response to fans’ outcry when it was canceled.)
The series, created and directed by the Wachowskis (The Matrix, V for Vendetta), brought to life the interconnected realities of the sensates, a distinct species called Homo sensorium that evolves alongside Homo sapiens undetected. Through the sensates, Sense8 explores the human experience and all the beauty and pain contained therein.
In the pilot episode, a woman gives "birth" to eight sensates, activating their psychic connection. From then on out the eight main characters are connected both mentally and emotionally. They have the ability to visit one another, during which the visitor appears alongside another sensate, or to share a body, and they’re all being hunted by a shadowy organization invested in the survival and supremacy of Homo sapiens.
The series also embraces and affirms bisexuality and sexual fluidity, seeming to say, “Why wouldn’t you?” The sensates and their non-sensate lovers come together and pull apart and come together in ways that are honestly breathtaking. Over and over, the show asserts that sex and pleasure are a part of the human experience, one we should not deny ourselves nor be ashamed of — and part of what makes sex so enrapturing is that the best sex is just as much about your brain as it is your body.
In the pilot, Nomi, one of the sensates, and her girlfriend Amanita are shown having sex during Pride. Amanita is on top of Nomi, thrusting, panting, and caressing her lover. Nomi, who has been having headaches since she was reborn as a sensate, grasps onto Amanita’s strapon, pulling her closer while she moans. Amanita watches Nomi, reading her experience, her rhythms, the expression on her face. While it’s clear that they’re both enjoying this intimate moment, Amanita foregrounds Nomi’s pleasure, checking in with her after Nomi’s orgasm to see if the experience was good and if it helped with her headache.
What’s so fantastic about this scene isn’t just that Nomi and Amanita’s sex is hot AF, but that their bodies are shown in all their glory, as is true throughout Sense8. As the sensates navigate their sexuality, viewers are shown hairy butts and sweaty foreheads and flaccid penises and floppy tits and sticky dildos—all supremely well-lit, of course. The oddity of human bodies is normalized and embraced not as being the downside of sexuality, but as a constituent part of how we get down.
And, though it’s clear that in this scene Nomi and Amanita’s bodies take center stage, they are also shown to be thinking, processing, and communicating with one another. Seamlessly, their bodies and minds work together toward a common goal: pleasure.
In Season 2’s premiere, “Happy F*cking New Year,” Sun talks to Kala about sex. The two sensates are having this conversation in part because Kala is nervous about being intimate with her new husband. Sun summarizes the entire series’ philosophy on sex when she says, “We exist because of sex. It’s not something to be afraid of. It’s something to honor, to enjoy.”
Shortly thereafter, the sensates begin having sex in their respective locations around the world. As they caress and lick and kiss the people they are sleeping with, their realities begin to collide. Not only are the sensates brought together, but their non-sensate partners are also wrapped up in the moment. They each kiss in different combinations, moving and grinding like they are all part of one being, one beast with many backs. Each sensate is shown pleasuring and being pleasured by people of multiple genders in passionate and tender ways.
Not only are viewers’ notions of sexuality challenged, but so are the characters’. Some characters express surprise when they find themselves kissing certain people, but that all fades rather quickly as the power of their physical and mental pleasure transports them elsewhere, literally and figuratively.
The way sensates have sex and how their minds and bodies are involved illustrates the complexity of human sexuality. Sure, they have an evolutionary advantage when it comes to setting up orgies. Have you tried to schedule anything involving more than three people lately? But, they also model what it means to be a loving, attentive, and engaged sexual partner. And, couldn’t we all use more of that?