As of now, Netflix’s heady, sexy, inclusive scifi thriller Sense8 is basically dead—may it rest in peace. But, if the Wachowski sisters are willing to consider this rather interesting proposal from xHamster, there’s a chance that the series may find a new—and more erotic—second life on one of the internet’s most-visited porn sites.
While Sense8 is technically coming back for one last episode meant to wrap up the two-seasons-long series’ story about eight individuals scattered across the globe who share a powerful psychic bond, Netflix ultimately decided to axe the series, eliciting a range of sad emotions from fans. Though Netflix may have moved past Sense8, xHamster is tentatively interested in a partnership with the Wachowskis to bring the show back.
On Wednesday, xHamster’s vice president Alex Hawkins penned an open letter to the Wachowskis expressing the company’s respect for Sense8's “polyamorous perversity” and an understanding that the show’s premise as sex-positive and queer-centered might be a hard sell to more mainstream streaming outlets. More than that, though, Hawkins directly called out the fact that all of Netflix’s shows are somewhat limited by the company’s production budget. If the next season of Sense8 was produced by xHamster, Hawkins said, it wouldn’t be competing for some portion of a production budget, it would have the money it needed with basically no questions asked.
xHamster has a long history of fighting for the rights of sexual free speech and non-normative sexuality. In addition to allowing billions of users to connect with individual articulations of gender and sexuality, we continue to use our audience to speak up against repressive anti-LGBTQ laws in the US and abroad and for sex ed in public schools, Planned Parenthood, and the rights of sex workers.
Interestingly, if any of this were to ever come to fruition, it wouldn’t be the first time that xHamster produced “traditional” entertainment content. The site currently produces The Sex Factor, a reality show in which people compete for a three-year contract with a major porn production studio and a cash prize. But there’s a huge difference between producing porn as reality TV and producing a prestige scifi drama that happens to have a lot of sex in it.
When I spoke with Hawkins last night via e-mail, he was resolute in his belief that the reason that Sense8 was ultimately canceled had less to do with the budget and more to do with the show’s sexual politics.
“I think that a lot of people have picked up on this already, but we’re not prudes. Netflix is a publicly traded company,” he said. “I think that a lot of people assume that the budget was the killer for Netflix. While it seems like a lot for a series, it’s actually not that much for a major motion picture.”
Regarding this hypothetical project’s budget, Hawkins admitted that the idea of actually funding it was something of a “steep climb,” but said that there’s an opportunity there to approach producing the show in a way that’s different from the way a more traditional production company might.
“We don’t just want to be a platform, we want to figure out a way to use our infrastructure to change the way the story is told,” he said.” Can we make the story more interactive? Can it be less linear? How does storytelling change when you liberate it as a passive experience?”
Obviously, none of this means that we should expect to see Sense8 coming back on a porn site anytime soon, but the proposal is certainly an interesting one (at least as a thought experiment) in the grand scheme of things. Hawkins has a point—Netflix was once an upstart company that wanted to shake up a stagnant industry and ended up fundamentally changing the way that we consume television. Perhaps a porn company could do the same.