“Hello Americans, Paul Harvey here. Did you know that every good American is at heart an erotic American?” -Paul Harvey, The Simpsons Everybody kisses everybody! That is, except Riley, Sun, and Capheus, who apparently don’t rate when it comes to sensate sex events. The marquee scene in episode six, “Demons,” involves some five-way intercourse within the group and some of their non-sharing partners. The scene does little to move the story along, but it is fun to see the different combinations of characters interact in this space. A refreshing aspect is that Will, the straight-laced Chicago cop, is unfazed by his interactions with Nomi and Lito. It is also heartening to see relatively frank depictions of same sex pairings in a mainstream television program. There have been great steps made in the depiction of gays and lesbians on television, but Sense8 does a particularly admirable job of presenting solid same sex relationships. Nomi and Amanita and Lito and Hernando are the only characters in functional relationships. It is debatable whether a show like Sense8 falls under the banner of television important enough to send a message, but a little sex positivity in our buttoned up culture is worth noting. However, this would not be an episode of Sense8 if there were not some glaring issues, even in this scene. First, the use of Macy Gray is another “What’s Up”-style musical misstep. Even as gay, straight, and transgendered partners mix and match, the song behind the action makes it seem very dated, like a twenty-year old Playboy video. This vibe continues with the show’s squeamishness about showing an erect penis. Wolfgang has half the cast writhing on top of him and Kala’s body double walking by, and he registers not an iota of arousal. This carries over to Lito and Hernando, and seems like a relatively tepid depiction in a show interested in pushing some boundaries. There is a traditional double standard with television nudity; if Sense8 wants to break some ground, perhaps it could do so in this arena. Nowhere does the show seem more conventional than in its struggle with Sun. After establishing her as a warrior in the early going, Sense8 seems intent on demeaning her, first with the tired menstruation material and blind duty to her clearly undeserving male family members, and now by making her star in her own woman-in-prison film. She again mirrors with Lito, who is giving an interview while she is routinely degraded during her prison intake. Perhaps the creators are making a statement by comparing the closeted Lito and the trapped Sun, but everything concerning her story, right up to the smarmy doctor with a mirror has been covered countless times on other programs, most without the aspirations of Sense8. That the scene is played for laughs on Lito’s end is quite disappointing. The program also continues to give Nomi the worst job on the planet, other than “hactivist.” It is perhaps unfair to blame the character, given that she has to carry the weight of the exposition, but her line readings, particularly in a scene with Amanita and her mother that should have a “chat room questions answered here” label, are so, so wooden. This is probably because even Sir Alec Guinness would have trouble playing an unflinchingly earnest character, but whether she is combing through the ruins of her apartment, initiating lovemaking with her partner, or theorizing on the bizarre recent occurrences in her life, she always appears to be in the exact same mood. Maybe something in subsequent episodes will really raise her ire, or it will be revealed that she is a Zen master. As a whole, the sixth episode flows from the fifth. There are nudges forward in each individual story, but the overarching plot is left by the wayside. This is not exactly station to station tension-building television, but that’s part of the argument for releasing a whole season of a show at a time. Sense8 may be putting the time into sex romps and meet-ups in bars and parks in order to set up a satisfying resolution. If the pieces don’t make up a satisfying whole, as in the case of Heroes, Lost, or Battlestar Galactica, the audience ends up feeling like a dupe. As I solider on, despite the stated issues, I have yet to feel like one. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Shawn EH “That the scene is played for laughs on Lito’s end is quite disappointing.” All scenes are played for laughs on Lito’s end. He’s our comic relief!