The names Lana and Lilly Wachowski have been etched in annals of film history since the day their groundbreaking sophomore directorial venture ‘The Matrix‘ (1998) took the screens by storm worldwide. The director-duo was immediately regarded as pioneers who have paved a new path for sci-fi films. As their careers progressed beyond the 1998 blockbuster, the Wachowskis kept showing us they were far from one-hit wonders, and are here for the long race. Films like ‘V For Vendetta‘ (2005) and ‘Could Atlas‘ (2012) kept adding to their visionary status. When filmmakers of such loud acclaim join hands with a streaming giant as fiercely competitive and innovative as Netflix, it seems like a match made in heaven. The collaboration did manage to bear fruit as the Wachowski’s reinvigorated their status as auteurs with the seminal TV series ‘Sense8.’
Set in a world where an alternative race of human beings exist, the plot follows “Sensates” who can communicate with each other though telepathy. Eight members of the “Sensates” join forces to uncover the mystery behind their telepathic powers and embark on a globetrotting adventure. Soon, they find themselves under the scanners of a sinister establishment called Biologic Preservation Organization and its high-ranking officials named ‘Whispers.’
The series received widespread critical acclaim and viewers’ praise with Netflix revealing that it is one of the most binge-watched shows within their repertoire. As it always is with the Wachowskis, ‘Sense8’ is a sci-fi project with underlying political layers. It speaks for people who are ‘different’ from what is considered normalcy. But it is this difference which gives them the strength to fight all the challenges that come their way. So, without further ado, here is the list of best TV series similar to ‘Sense8’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these TV shows like ‘Sense8’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
8. Westworld (2016 – )
Created by Johnathan Nolan, ‘Westworld‘ is a show which deftly incorporates elements of sci-fi as well as Western within its narrative. The show centers around an amusement park created using simulated reality where visitors can fulfill their bizarre fantasies ranging from rape to torture to murder with the help of humanoids called “Hosts.”
The park is based on settings we usually see on Western films and TV shows, with the only difference being that the people who crowd the place are robots. Things go smooth for the park at first, but problems surface when some of the “Hosts” start recollecting the tortures they’ve been through. In a similar vein with ‘Sense8’, ‘Westworld’ incorporates a note of social commentary within its storyline, raising an important question of how humans should treat the artificial intelligence once it gains the “humane” ability to empathize.
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7. The 100 (2014 – )
Since the day the power of uncontrolled nuclear fission was discovered by man, it gave him a weapon to destroy all civilizations, both past and present, at a whim. And with such great power comes a responsibility of such magnitude which becomes difficult for anyone to live up to. The setting of ‘The 100‘ is an apocalyptic future where the earth has been ravaged by a nuclear disaster and humans have shifted their lives to space stations. When these stations get overcrowded, a group of 100 youngsters are sent back to the earth to see whether habitation is possible once again.
‘The 100’ opens up a stunning apocalyptic world with very few remaining humans struggle to structure their lives according to the new living conditions. Considering the big-budget of the project, ‘The 100’ does not fall into any formulaic traps when it comes to weaving the plot. The moral ambiguity which is prevalent in this do-or-die world is not compromised by the makers to provide a “happy ending” in any way.
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6. Travelers (2016 – 2018)
The proliferation of post-apocalyptic shows has been a recent phenomenon in the world of television. Numerous networks and production houses keep joining the bandwagon to try out their luck in the genre. While a majority of them sink into the oblivion without a trace, some shows like ‘Travelers‘ capture our imagination with their strong content, power-packed performances and an engaging storytelling.
‘Travelers’ are special agents who can send their consciousness back in time and “host” them on the bodies of “targets” who otherwise would die within minutes. ‘Travelers’ thus avert possible unexpected impacts in the natural course of things. Moreover, they are also responsible for preventing any apocalyptic events that wipe out humanity from the face of Earth. The series chronicles the real-life challenges they face while trying to fulfill their mission. Watch this series for some stunning performances and a treatment that incorporates tropes of drama and sci-fi in an intriguing way.
5. Legion (2017 – )
‘Legion‘ is the television adaptation of the popular Marvel comics character by Noah Hawley. There is a stark similarity which can be observed between the themes of ‘Legion’ and ‘Sense8’. In both shows, we follow a group of characters who are different from normal human beings, and it is their quest for survival which becomes the central theme of the show.
‘Legion,’ however, has one particular protagonist, David Haller, who has been shifted from one mental health facility to another throughout his life, only to discover later that he is a mutant like our favorite X-Men heroes. The plot eventually reveals that a parasitic mutant has been nestling for long inside his brain, causing him the severe mental distress he’s faced throughout his life.
Both shows are stories about outsiders who do not fit into our regular stereotypes defined by society. ‘Legion’ also boasts off a stunning cinematography and magnificent sets. Moreover, the success of the show also sparked serious talks regarding mental health and the stigma surrounding mental disorders in the public sphere.
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4. Falling Water (2016 – 2018)
‘Sense8’ and ‘Falling Water‘ have an umbilical connection with each other in terms of the basic plot element they share. In the former, the plot concentrates on eight people who can communicate with each other without any verbal medium, while in ‘Falling Water,’ we meet a trio who can share their dreams.
Philosophers have for long tried to excavate the hidden meanings of dreams, but never has anyone talked about the implications or possibilities of multiple people dreaming exactly the same thing. While going into such uncharted territory, ‘Falling Water’ emerges as a winner in weaving out a gripping story about the intriguing and complex nature of human mind. But as the series progresses, lack of coherence and pace drop the ball towards its final stage.
3. Reverie (2018)
Rapid technological developments happening throughout the world has given us a sense of immense progress, but the detrimental effects of the same hardly find a place in our regular conversations. With increasingly dependent on gadgets and technology to keep ourselves engaged, we are slowly turning into extremely isolated entities like a islands surrounded by water.
Out only windows to the external world are social media or video games through which we create selectively virtual comfort zones. ‘Reverie‘ explores such a theme where the protagonist has to bring certain individuals out of their cobwebs of virtual reality. ‘Reverie’ acts as a mirror on which we can see the ever increasing influence of the virtual world.
2. The OA (2016 – )
‘The OA’ is another original science fiction series from Netflix which has been as critically and commercially successful as the Wachowskis’ ‘Sense8.’ The concept of an alternate dimension or a parallel universe was first extensively used in comic books where each realm has a different version of our favorite superheroes to offer. It is this very idea which has now transcended itself to our television screens, of which ‘The OA’ is a glorious exponent.
The story centers around a girl who returns to her hometown seven years after she went missing. Calling herself The Original Angel (OA), she claims that she has been to an alternate dimension where many people from this world are being held captive. ‘The OA’ is a mixture of elements of sci-fi, supernatural, friendships, and self-discovery. There’s a lot to take from this platter, the entirety of which is an experience to behold.
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1. Orphan Black (2013 – 2017)
Our central characters of ‘Sense8’ can perceive the thoughts, feelings and emotions without an intermediate. Now, take this concept and turn it up a few degrees and you get the BBC America series ‘Orphan Black.‘ The plot follows a young girl who comes to realize that she is one among numerous clones roaming the earth. The are the offspring of an illegal experiment that goes awry.
Our sense of identity is built on the fact that we are different from the people around us. When this very sense of “self” and “other” is disrupted, it can be a harrowing experience for any individual. Such a mental state shatters all the structures one has built around oneself over the years. ‘Orphan Black’ has garnered critical acclaim for pondering on the haunting questions of identity in an entertaining way throughout its five-season run.
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