Netflix chief explains why Sense8 got cancelled

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The head of Netflix has responded to protests against the cancellation of TV show Sense8.

The acclaimed drama series from transgender sibling sci-fi directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski follows eight pansexual individuals around the globe with an apparent psychic connection.

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The show featured openly trans actress Jamie Clayton – making it notable as the first mainstream show to have an openly trans writers penning a trans role for an openly trans actress.

Sense8's Jamie Clayton

Despite the show’s passionate fanbase, streaming giant Netflix pulled the plug on the show last month after its second season was launched, due to underwhelming ratings.

More than half a million people signed a petition calling on Netflix to revive the show, but the streaming service’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos spurned the calls during a Producers Guild of America conference.

Sarandos said: “[The creators] made an incredible contribution to our culture with those shows.

“They did a beautiful show… the audience was very passionate, but not large enough to support the economics of something that big, even on our platform.”

He added: “Relative to what you spent, are people watching it? That is pretty traditional.

“A big expensive show for a huge audience is great! A big, expensive show for a tiny audience is hard even in our model to make that work very long.”

Sense8 was rumoured to cost around $9 million per episode to produce, making it one of the most expensive shows on TV.

It approaches the cost of Netflix’s flop series Marco Polo, which lost a reported $200 million over two seasons.

Sarandos added: “It’s one of those things that you know you’re pushing the envelope if every once in a while you fall. And you go back and start over again.”

“After 23 episodes, 16 cities and 13 countries, the story of the Sense8 cluster is coming to an end,” Cindy Holland, vice president of original content for Netflix, said in a statement.

“It is everything we and the fans dreamed it would be: bold, emotional, stunning, kick ass, and outright unforgettable,” she continued.

“Never has there been a more truly global show with an equally diverse and international cast and crew, which is only mirrored by the connected community of deeply passionate fans all around the world.”

The show’s co-creator Lilly Wachowski previously pulled out of the show’s second season, leaving her sister Lana to run the show alone.

Lilly came out as transgender last year, four years after her sister transitioned.