You are no longer just you: Netflix, Sense8 and the evolution of television

Zoë Shacklock

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Abstract

This chapter situates Sense8 as the epitome of Netflix’s original programming strategy. In both its industrial organisation and its promotional discourses, Netflix explicitly presents itself as an evolution of ‘ordinary’ television. The chapter explores how Netflix’s original programming seeks to extend many of the medium’s fundamental properties: it heightens its capacity for serial storytelling, it seeks to magnify its intimate address through its focus on the body, and it extends its promise of community out to the scale of the whole world. Sense8 offers a unique case study for approaching these questions because it stands as a success and a failure in equal measures. The chapter considers how the programme’s global production and rollout and its highly serialised narration raise important issues about the sustainability and prosperity of the contemporary television industry. It also explores how many of the key issues of television studies, such as authorship, audiences, and access, continue to structure streaming television, albeit in slightly different configurations. The chapter concludes by making a case for the value of industrial approaches to television programmes, particularly through the way that industrial contexts are discernible within the programmes themselves. Sense8 explicitly narrativises Netflix’s evolutionary discourse within its own presentation of Sensate evolution: just as the Sensates themselves are ‘no longer just you’, Netflix presents itself as no longer ‘just’ television.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSense8
Subtitle of host publicationTranscending Television
EditorsDeborah Shaw, Rob Stone
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Chapter2
ISBN (Electronic)9781501352911
ISBN (Print)9781501352935
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2021

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