Sense8 Shows South Asian Polyamorous Marriage

Sense8” is a science-fiction drama of mammoth proportions. The creative Netflix drama has taken it upon itself to interweave complex fiction and diverse representation, ranging from LGBTQ to multicultural stories. Even for its movie-style series finale, which debuted on June 8 to wrap up the show, “Sense8” forged forward with this mission with its central love triangles: Kala, Wolfgang, and Rajan.

For the first two seasons of the show, Kala Dandekar (Tina Desai), a pharmacist from Mumbai, India, goes through quite a bit of emotional upheaval. Kala is about to marry her company’s CEO Rajan Rasal (Purab Kohli), a man who is very much in love with her and for whom she eventually develops real feelings.

However, she also discovers she’s a sensate, a higher being who is emotionally and psychically connected to seven others like her in different parts of the world. One of them is a low-level thief in Berlin named Wolfgang (Max Riemelt). As this cluster of sensates try to understand their origins, their connections, and escape a dangerous organization that’s after them, Kala navigates her relationship with Rajan while also falling for Wolfgang.

In the beginning, we’re led to believe that Kala and Wolfgang are the endgame. Their build-up is slow but obvious, starting from a friendship despite their differences. Kala is a devout Hindu who frequently visits Ganesha temples, she shares a close bond with her father Sanyam (Anupam Kher) and is a dutiful partner to Rajan. Wolfgang, on the other hand, is forced into a life of crime even though he has a good heart. In a way, bonding with Kala becomes his saving grace.

Desai and Riemelt share a sweet chemistry, making it easy to want to root for them, despite Kala’s commitment to Rajan and his family. It’s only as the episodes go on that we unravel Rajan’s personality. He does truly love and care for Kala. “Sense8” lets these primary romantic relationships foster, churning out a vivid love triangle between the three of them.

The entire ‘who will she finally end up with?’ debacle comes to a head in the series finale. It The 2.5 hour episode starts with the 7 sensates meeting in person in Paris to rescue Wolfgang, who has been kidnapped by the show’s antagonistic organization BPO. Rajan turns up in Paris as well, wondering what exactly Kala is up to. Seeing as she has no choice, she finally, honestly confesses everything to him. Rajan is surprisingly cool with all of it. He wants to help his wife rescue the man she is probably in love with.

When they finally do that and their enemies stand defeated, Kala has to make a big choice: Rajan or Wolfgang? Her character is in a predicament we’ve often seen before. Love triangles are a common trope in almost any TV show. What makes Kala’s journey stand out a little more is that we’ve never seen a married Indian woman facing this conflict. South Asian relationships on American TV are very constricted. Most of the brown characters are either in stereotypical arranged marriage plots or in an interracial relationship, whether it’s “New Girl” or “The Mindy Project” or “Alex Inc.”

“Sense8” gave Kala two seasons to dwell on whom she would pick. The easiest choice was always Rajan because she’s married to him and he’s with her in person. As much as she loves Wolfgang, their relationship was always limited to their sensate abilities. Not anymore. The three of them are physically present with each other now, with the truth wide open. To top it all, Rajan and Wolfgang were actually becoming friends, fully realizing what they each meant to Kala.

So, in the show’s trademark style, as the finale ended with every character coming together with their loved ones in a lovemaking montage, Kala is seen making love to Rajan and Wolfgang. “Sense8” hints at a successful polyamorous relationship between the three of them as both the men participate in this willingly.

“Sense8” gave us the most unique conclusion, which is somehow perfectly fitting to the show’s legacy. Most shows would opt to drag out a love triangle and make the final conclusion dramatic. “Sense8” morphed the love triangle into a unique, romantic, rarely seen relationship.

It shouldn’t really be surprising then that creators Lily and Lana Wachowski went the polyamorous route with Kala, Rajan, and Wolfgang. “Sense8” has never shied away from dealing with modern, real truths of our world, whether its representing transgender characters, characters from different parts of the world, or dealing with issues like politics, religion, AIDS, and homophobia. Kudos to the show and to the actors for boldly going where no one has before, not when it comes to a South Asian woman and man coming to terms with their own sexual identity and relationship.

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