The issue of gender and identity is one that we discuss often in this class, and few shows are as diverse in their depictions of people and their identities as Sense8. Season 2 Episode 10: If All the World’s a Stage then Identity is a Costume begins with an intro reflective of the episode’s title. The intro includes many more clips of people than normal- gay, straight, young, old, male, female -people from all over the world going about their everyday lives. This set the scene for an episode focused on identity. We see Kala in her element reproducing the blocker drug, showing a smart woman doing science. Kala and Riley have a long conversation in which they discuss their fears for the future and the road ahead of them. This is significant because it passes the Bechdel test, showing two women in a non-male-oriented context. Even when the scene shifts and the characters do discuss Will, the conversation does not play into a fantasy, but rather feels like two real women sharing their experiences with sex, loss, and pain; Will was merely a catalyst for this conversation to occur. The episode then takes us to Kala’s complicated relationship with Wolfgang. The two speak very frankly about their needs and their individual situations. Power is clearly shared evenly in their relationship. As the episode progresses, we begin to see gender and the concept of masculinity intersect with homosexuality. During his audition, Lito’s producer describes Lito’s previous strong-man ‘macho’ roles as ‘typical male apery’, a sentiment that supports the notion that Lito’s more sensitive natural masculinity is greater than the narrowly-defined masculine roles that he has been shut out of. The producer does not ask him for strength, or any traditionally masculine traits, but rather to ‘break his heart’ during his audition. Speaking with his homosexual romantic lead, Lito is encouraged to be vulnerable. While Hernando and Lito’s Co-Star view some of Lito’s previous work as ‘offering insight into the interdependence of identity by rejecting the narrative of male sovereignty’, the producer is focused more on the sexy aspect of film, repeatedly making gay sexual references and affirming the reality that sex sells. The final significant moment of the episode is when Lito and Hernando talk about Lito’s insecurity about his acting on the beach, and the two make out romantically in the surf. There is no pan-away, and the moment is captured beautifully in its entirety with the same level of romance and attention that would be given to a similar heterosexual scene. This is just one more example of how Sense8 seeks to show people’s lives as they are, and not to limit the experience of the viewer to traditional patriarchal and heteronormative lenses.
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