English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: #inclusion

If All the World’s a Stage then Identity is a Costume

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.

Lito and Hernando share a romantic moment in the surf celebrating Lito’s dream role.

‘I really am going crazy’

Sense8 is an American science fiction drama series that has an incredibly multinational cast. The beginning episodes take place in 8 different parts of the world. Amazingly, the show is filmed almost entirely on location which means that it was filmed all across the world. This is an incredible feat for the crew of the show, and it makes me appreciate it a lot more.


The show has 8 main characters are all linked together emotionally and physically. This means that each character has to share a lot of screen time and there are many subplots within the main one. Filming this in such a way that the audience does not get lost must have been very challenging, but they did a great job. They made this show very enjoyable to watch and very captivating so I don’t have to go crazy.


Longer takes with more dialogue give background into each of the respective characters lives. Contrastingly, many shorter shots are used to instill a sense of curiosity and confusion into the viewer to resonate with the confusion of the characters as they try to understand their experiences while we do. These shorter shots also tend to have a darker color scheme to symbolize the distress of the characters while portraying the thematic topic of magical realism.


At this point in the show the color scheme during the times that the characters interlink seems to remain stark and dull. I don’t know if this is because they seem to become connected during times of distress. If it is because they are confused and scared by the physical and emotional connections between them because it’s purpose is unknown? Or if it is simply because their connection is something bad. I don’t think it is because their connection means darkness or foreshadowing of bad events because their respective connections seems to make them stronger, more insightful, and may even represent inclusion as a whole. Regardless, the show has captivated me the whole time. Can’t wait to keep watching. 10/10 recommend so far!

-Sierra Villarreal

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