Netflix’ Post-Racial Utopias: Diversity, Globalization, and Neoliberalism in Sense8 and The Umbrella Academy

I am delighted to say that I will be presenting my paper on “Netflix’ Post-Racial Utopias: Diversity, Globalization, and Neoliberalism in Sense8 and The Umbrella Academy” at the 2019 MPCA/ACA Conference (October 10-13, 2019 in Cincinnati, OH).
Umbrella Academy Feature Main

The recent Netflix originals Sense8 (2015-18) and The Umbrella Academy (2019) present strikingly similar utopias of post-racial queer communities. Both feature a diverse ensemble of characters with supernatural abilities born on the exact same day in different parts of the world. The shows were embraced by their audiences for their progressive representation of multiracial casts and their inclusion of canonically queer characters. However, in this presentation I argue that both Sense8 and The Umbrella Academy co-opt the political ideals of “queerness” and “diversity” for a neoliberal vision of globalization. The series prioritize Western notions of multiculturalism and sexual liberation at the expense of critical discourses on racial, cultural, and economic inequity. Ultimately, I argue that both series can be read as fictional manifestations of Netflix’ business strategy: the expansion of a globalized corporate network carried by global communities of affinity.

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