It may have been four months since Sense8’s latest episode “Amor Vincit Omnia” aired on June 8th with Netflix touting the instalment as the finale of the series but the fans who won this particular two hour special are as busy as ever campaigning for more seasons of the Wachowski cult favourite. Here’s the latest on the Sense8 season 3 revival campaign.
As the only fan base in history to overturn a decision by the streaming network a mere month after the cancellation of Sense8, it’s easy to see why the fandom fancies their chances of renewing the series for more seasons. If social media posts and demand expressions around the world are anything to go by, Sense8 fans may be justified in their belief in a full renewal with new demographics discovering the series and thereby giving rise to fresh outrage, new fans, and campaigners.
One need not follow Netflix’s official @Sense8 account to see the countless tweets from Netflix viewers waking up to the mind-blowing ride that is Sense8. The outpouring of support for the campaign is made evident when viewers express sentiments the likes of “I am so late to the @sense8 party but I just need to say: a) this show is so good, it makes me feel things in my core and b) @netflix needs to get it together and renew this. Every single part of #Sense8 is incredibly beautiful.” Or ones that reflect the outright anger of having discovered a new favorite show, only to hear it’s been canceled.
Hannah of @hanlmills who echoed the feelings of many when she tweeted “I know I’m crazy late to the game but F*** NETFLIX FOR CANCELLING @SENSE8 THAT IS MESSED UP, MAN !!!! is one of many viewers who is aiming their anger and disappointment much in the same manner as fans did more than a year ago when Netflix cut ties with the series. Others, like @witchurst reflected the overall impact and impression the network’s growing list of canceled shows has had on viewers in stating “I know I’m late to the #sense8 party but, Jesus Christ #Netflix, it seems that your message is to not bother investing our time/money in watching any of your shows because you’ll just keep canceling them!”
An Expanding Archipelago
On the other hand, these very public statements of outrage have meant that Sense8’s global fan base is expanding with each passing day with more and more new viewers joining the campaign to renew the show and bringing their ideas and creativity into the fold.
New Belgian Sense8 campaigner and criminologist Julie Sougnez was one of many fans who started the series aware of its premature end. “I started watching Sense8 knowing it has already been canceled after 2 seasons. I was a bit sad but, it happens every day, that’s just how it is. But then after I watched it I was captivated by the positive messages conveyed by this show. Acceptance, diversity, solidarity, hope…in what kind of show do we see all of this nowadays? Nowhere but Sense8! And I met this fandom, quite by accident. I’ve always considered fandoms as hysterical teens groups. But when I discovered the members of this one, and how they were organized, I understood how wrong I was.” Sara Rodriguez, a social worker from Portugal also found her way to campaigning for Sense8 in a similar fashion. “I discovered Sense8 this summer, and immediately surrendered… Sense8 brought me to its international fandom and our fight to bring the show back brought me Family, a beautiful, determined, intelligent, courageous, sensitive, loving family that I am totally in awe of each day”.
And what’s it like to campaign against the world’s largest streaming network with fans who’ve been in this fight for over a year? “Strangely empowering,” says Julie Sougnez who goes on to explain “You suddenly meet a lot of people coming from very diverse walks of life, but everybody works towards the same direction. There are no barriers, no judgment. They work as cells. They work as a system. We are a very complex system. In this, I see similarities with the 8 Sensates. Of course, we don’t have any superpowers!” but Sara believes the fan base has something more unique in that ” the commitment and passion with which we all work and support each other’s work are beyond unbelievable…. as Lana would put it, every day I’m baffled by the holy-shitness of it all!”
Playing the Numbers Game
Mid-September was a crucial time of year for Sense8 fans around the world as the “numbers” reflecting the success or failure of the new Sense8 episode would come to light in the latest Global TV Demand Report by Parrot Analytics. The lack of viewership was one of the most popular excuses provided by Netflix for the cancellation of the series and Lana Wachowski and cast members alike encouraged fans to promote the series which received very little in the way of endorsement and corporate promotion from Netflix since it premiered in 2015. As Netflix does not release viewership data, the Parrot Analytic report has provided the most concrete proof of the power of a fandom determined to correct a very public mistake Netflix made in 2017.
Sense8’s latest episode not only ranked in the top 15 in all of the world’s major markets but was “the series to the top 15 among all markets evaluated”, which means Amor Vincit Omnia was among the top 15 TV shows this quarter in over a hundred countries around the world.
Sense8 was the 4th most popular series in the USA, beating out Netflix hit series Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black and Black Mirror and 4th in Germany as well, ranking above Handmaiden’s Tale, 3% and other Netflix favourites Dark and Altered Carbon. Coming in as the 3rd most in-demand series in Colombia, Sense8 also made the top 10 in Canada, Austria, Portugal and the UK where it ranked above local favourite The Crown, Black Mirror and Marvel’s Jessica Jones.
Interestingly, Sense8 is the only cancelled and non-continuing series featured on the Parrot Analytics report which begs the question as to why one of the world’s most in-demand series has not been renewed in spite of its documented success.
For the first time ever in Netflix’s history, Its international subscribers also outnumbered its US subscribers for the first time ever, 68.3 million vs. 56.7 million according to highspeedinternet.com’s recent article titled NETFLIX: WHAT THE WORLD IS WATCHING IN 2018 which also went on to demonstrate the popularity of Sense8 in various Netflix markets using Google Trends data as the metric. Sense8 came out on top as the most popular Netflix series in Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Panama and Paraguay.
A Troubling Trend
Cancellations are all par for the course in Netflix’s legacy it seems as some of the shows to face the axe in recent months included The Break with Michelle Wolf and “Lady Dynamite,” “Disjointed,” “Seven Seconds,” “The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale”, Chelsea, Girlboss, Haters Back Off while Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was also cancelled the same month as its season 4 release much like Everything Sucks which had barely a month to prove its worth on the platform before it was unceremoniously tossed aside.
“Netflix’s trend of cancelling its own originals and picking up cancelled shows from other networks is confusing to say the least. Don’t get me wrong, I am genuinely happy that those shows get to continue but why Netflix does not feel the same about its originals is strange. It’s like a business that cancels its own production lines and buys rejected products from a competitor for resale. It’s bizarre” admits Sense8 campaigner Nathasha Erickson. Netflix’s policy on its own failures has also been less than consistent as the low numbers and popularity of the highly promoted series 13 Reasons Why is set to continue despite the network admitting that most recent season fell flat. Statements from Netflix TCA Cindy Holland defending the renewal as” “We felt we owed it to the characters as much as to the fans,” leaves not only Sense8 fans but other fans of cancelled shows wondering why their favourites were not given a second chance based on similar reasoning especially since the fans of 13 Reasons Why hardly campaigned for the return of the series after the second season or made their case in the court of public opinion or on social media. The Parents Television Council famously petitioned Hastings and the Netflix board of directors to cease halt distribution of the show, asking for a way for subscribers to opt-out of paying for the program due to its controversial treatment of suicide and other teen issues.
Consisting of clusters who are organized under different major accounts including the IAmWe Campaign, The Global Cluster and Sense8United, Sense8 fans have more than a few projects in the works to renew the series. A new petition and a Global Rewatch, a book which highlights the series’ impact globally are just some of the initiatives the fandom is actively engaged in. Sense8 campaigner and filmmaker Martin Erhardt’s new YouTube video highlighting the unfinished storylines in the series garnered 284,000+ views within days of release while the Sense8App is also in development with a new chat feature also ready to be launched in the coming months.
The Sensorium App is the brainchild of Mexican software developer Leo Gutierrez, and Indian tech student Prateek Gupta who along with hundreds of other Sense8 fans cum engineers on creating a virtual world for Sense8 fans to gather, connect and campaign for more Sense8. “The chat and posts feature are almost ready so those users can start interacting in their own Sensate Network” explains Leo Gtz who is also enthusiastic about the upcoming Sense8App Meetup. “The global meet up is an idea to bring the Sense8 networking to reality. Basically, organize an event that will give people the opportunity to meet other Sense8 fans in person in a different location each year…an event that paired up with the app that will help people connect in a very special way.” What’s more, Sense8 fans are also attempting to secure a GLAAD Award nomination for “Outstanding TV film” by funding the entry fee and have sent notice to Netflix of their intentions.
And that’s just the beginning according to Sense8 fans who are as determined as ever to see the opening theme of a new Sense8 season in the near future. When asked on the possibilities of securing another season Julie Sougnez assured ” Honestly? I have no doubt. Season 3 is written. Netflix would rather ignore that but we’re on it”