A look into why the Netflix original was cut short
Sense 8 has taken long strides towards diversity, where some of leading characters in the series are people of color, interracial couples, and transgender. Behind the scenes, Lilly Wachowski, who directed nine episodes, also identifies as transgender.
There has been no specific explanation of the show’s cancellation, and Netflix does not release its popularity ratings of its shows. However, current Netflix CEO did suggest that success, and too much success, may not be great for the company.
“Our hit ratio is way too high right now,” said Reed Hastings, the current Netflix CEO.
In the recent interview with CNBC, Hastings suggested that higher cancellation rates lead to the success of “unbelievable winners like 13 Reasons Why [which] over the last three months has been a big hit for us.”
As to why specifically Sense 8 was chosen, some critics have pointed out a trend in which inclusive shows are often those canceled by major networks and streaming services.
“Hollywood is way too quick to pat itself on the back for the smallest and most overdue steps forward when it comes to diversity, inclusion and representation — and the industry is far, far too quick to let the backsliding begin,” said Maureen Ryan, a Chief TV Critic writing for Variety.
She lists numerous shows, including Sense 8, that have been recently canceled, and all have in common non-white, non-male main characters. The status quo of white, male dominant television continues to be sustained.
“[The] recent spate of cancellations still worries me, I must admit,” said Ryan. “Especially in these troubled times, when it’s more important than ever to reinforce views of America that are forward-looking, inclusive and tolerant.”
In another analysis by Ryan, she finds the proportion of the number of female/people of color directors to its counterpart is extremely off-balance. And when the inclusive, diverse shows are canceled, the distribution becomes increasingly skewed.
Unlike other recently canceled shows, the cancellation of Sense 8 has immensely rallied viewers to an online petition platform. On December 12th of last year, Marco Polo was discontinued by Netflix and forth came a petition gathering over 400 supporters. It was the largest petition of its kind in support of the show. Sense 8 has garnered, in its petition, over 350,000 petitioners calling for a third season of the show.
Other supplementing petitions have signaled Hulu, another streaming service, to pick up the next season.
Petitioners question whether a similar response will occur with their loved Sense 8.