Sense8 is not only a rarity on Netflix but across the TV landscape due to the sheer diversity of its characters, plotlines and its inherent hopefulness as well as themes of connection and empathy. Looking for something similar on Netflix? Here are five TV series you should be watching on Netflix.
Often described as a combination of genres including elements of science fiction, philosophy, romantic comedy, thrillers and indie music flicks and crime dramas, Sense8 brings together eight plotlines based on 8 protagonists representing various walks of life, cultures and sexual orientations.
While Sense8 fans will find that there’s no single show that captures the complexity and richness of Sense8, there are a few dramas that each reflect qualities similar to the cult favourite, albeit along singular thematic lines. While there’s no replacing this breathtaking masterpiece of global proportions, here’s our rundown of shows on Netflix diehard fans of the beloved Wachowski showpiece will definitely enjoy.
Seasons Available: 1
As one of the more well-known shows on our list, it is surprising that the Brit Marling starring mystery drama still remains an underrated series on the platform in terms of popularity among viewers. Combining the elements of science fiction and superhuman powers similar to Sense8, the series directed by Batmanglij follows the mystical existence of Prairie Johnson and her life after being reunited with her parents after a disturbing absence.
Missing for nearly seven years, Prairie’s near-death experiences and her stint in an experimental facility run by a stranger she meets at the train station inform her current life in which she brings together a number of students who have little in common on a quest to help other inmates of the experimental facility in which she was imprisoned in.
The elegiac pace and fantasy meet reality narrative of the show will appeal to fans of Sense8 who will recognize the jarring and emotional style of the show in this American drama produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment.
Seasons Available: 2
Regions: Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom (Left Netflix US in 2017)
Starring a stellar cast including Kiefer Sutherland and Lucas Haas, Touch is another Netflix series which echoes the emotional undertones of Sense8 with a heartfelt portrayal of autism and the unique gifts the show’s protagonist finds after the diagnosis.
Centred around Jake ( played by David Mazouz), the 11-year-old son of Sutherland, a retired journalist, the show explores the strange but compelling patterns and numbers that Jake finds and interprets in his environment and their meaning for different characters the father and son come across along the way.
Translating the “pain of the universe” through numbers Jake’s journey in Touch delves into the interconnectedness of our collective suffering and joy like Sense8 which proudly highlights human connection and empathy as core themes. Fascinating and combining concepts found in philosophy and notions such as “The God Sequence”, Touch creates a compelling world connected through patterns and numbers.
Seasons Available: 2
As Sense8 viewers are known for their appetite for diverse narratives as well as those based in foreign cultures, the Brazilian dystopian drama 3% by Pedro Aguilera more than fits the bill and is comparable to Sense8 in more ways than one.
As the first ever Portuguese language Original series produced by Netflix, 3% also has the honour of being only the second non-English series by Netflix after Club de Cuervos, the Spanish series. While the premise of the show is much bleaker than Sense8, the sense of social justice and the desperate need for humanness and equality pervades this series which is set in a distant future where only 3% of the population is allowed to live decent, human existences with others “eliminated” for their disqualification or failure to participate in “The Process”.
Having been available for streaming since its release in December 2016, the series has been renewed for a third season.
Available: United States
Those who appreciate Sense8 for its narrative and thematic complexity and cerebral engagement must check out the Catalan TV series known as Merli, now streaming on Netflix.
Written and created by Hector Lozano this two season series first debuted in 2015 and revolves around a philosophy teacher and how his quirky but vastly interesting teaching methods and use of ancient knowledge captures the magic of films the likes of Dead Poets Society where Robin Williams similarly influenced change in his students using unorthodox means and lesson plans.
With each episode delving deep into the concepts of celebrated philosophers the likes of Nietzsche, Peripatetic and Schopenhauer, the show offers much food for thought like Sense8, on what is considered “normal” in human society. The LGBT representation is another commonality the show shares with Sense8 with the characters of Bruno and Pol showcasing the fluidity of human sexuality.
Seasons Available: 1
Making waves with its unconventional style, Legion is another sci-fi master class that also pushes the envelope in terms of what television can communicate in both scope and pace. A slow burner like the Netflix Original we all love, Legion builds up momentum slowly but creates a universe so complete in itself more than a few viewers will be left scratching their heads as to what they witnessed at the end of each episode.
Detailing the life of David Haller who is arguably one of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel universe, the show tackles issues of mental health, emotion versus logic and otherness almost as convincingly as Sense8. Starring Dan Stevens and Rachel Keller, the show which is in its second season is set to have a major role reversal in season 3 in terms of its “hero” or protagonist according to writer Noah Hawley of Fargo Fame.
This makes unpredictability another feature Legion has in common with the Wachowski sisters and J. Michael Straczynski series where expecting the unexpected has become a hallmark.