J. Michael Straczynski Q&A: ‘Sense8’
“I’ve known Lana and Lilly [Wachowski] for many years, and we share certain commonalities. We tend to think that as a species we are better together than we are apart,” says J. Michael Straczynski as we chat via webcam (watch above) about the inspiration for the Netflix sci-fi drama “Sense8,” which follows eight individuals from around the world who find themselves connected psychically.
Straczynski adds, “At a time when politics and culture seem to be dividing us … a show talking about the fact that we are better together than we are apart, that we are strengthened and not diminished by a multitude of voices, might be a good message to pass along … Hopefully with time, as we become more and more one world, the empathy will extend beyond national borders.”
The production extends beyond national borders as well. As he explains, “We shot the entire show on location: San Francisco, Chicago, Mexico City, London, Iceland, Berlin, Mumbai, Nairobi and Seoul. It was a tremendous road show. We wanted it to be authentic … Logistically it was a nightmare, but that made it feel more real.”
In addition to its multicultural storytelling, “Sense8” also boasts insight into gender and sexuality. Miguel Angel Silvestre plays Lito, a closeted gay actor in Mexico City, while Jamie Clayton portrays Nomi, a transgender woman from San Francisco with a gift for hacking. Once they decided to write Nomi as a transgender woman, “the character became a true north for the storytelling.” Science-fiction shows “tend to be written for guys who are afraid of girls,” so giving “Sense8” a broader perspective, and having the Wachowski sisters, both transgender women, at the helm, makes the show especially impactful.
While “Sense8” is in production for season two, Straczynski won’t reveal much, other than that “the second season is about providing a lot of the answers to the questions that viewers had after seeing the first season.”