There’s a duality to the effect Netflix and video on demand has had on the way people view television. On one hand, instant access to media provided by the streaming service means audiences can watch as many full seasons of content as they want at their own pace. On the other hand, it’s less likely for each episode to feel like an event, precisely because you don’t need to wait an entire week for the next chapter to be told.
This makes Christmas specials a little bit of an anomaly. When most people already have a bevy of new shows queued up for holiday binging, it’s difficult for some Christmas specials to stand out as essential viewing for the season.
As strange as it sounds, Sense8:A Christmas Special promises to be essential — not just because it serves as a standalone, two-hour long continuation of the science fiction drama series, but because it also embodies values that line up perfectly with the goodwill and solidarity associated with the holidays. By following the story of eight strangers from all over the world who become mentally and emotionally connected, showrunners J. Michael Straczynski and Lana and Lilly Wachowski underscore the importance of empathy and solidarity despite difference. The first season of Sense8 was celebrated for its highly diverse cast, and the Christmas special (as well as the full second season to be released afterwards) only looks to deepen the series’ focus and double down on tackling issues related to sexuality, religion, and human relationships.
Though Lana Wachowski finds holiday celebrations unique in how they can either bring people together or emphasize their isolation, the characters she helped create are always connected no matter how alone they may seem. It’s a hopeful notion that’s reassuring enough to elevate Sense8 above the typical Christmas programming we’ve grown accustomed to.
Sense8: A Christmas Special will premiere on Netflix on December 23, while the ten-episode second season will be available on May 5, 2017.