‘Difference Is the One Thing That We Have in Common’

A Photovoice Exploration of Fans Articulating Fair Representation in Netflix’s ‘Sense8’


  • Chiara Modugno Erasmus University Rotterdam (The Netherlands)
  • Tonny Krijnen Erasmus University Rotterdam (The Netherlands)




Television production is championing diversity in representation with record numbers compared to previous years. Netflix’s Sense8 is definitely amongst the highest scoring shows as concerns intersectional representation. Such remarkable representation was worth the 2016 GLAAD Outstanding Drama Series award, a prize granted to the most diverse television shows. However, this applause is geared solely to numerical representations while current academic discussion focuses more on the concept of fair representations. Not only is being represented of importance, but how one is represented. The present paper employs photovoice and photo elicitation to investigate how Sense8 fans articulate what constitutes a fair representation of queer gender identities within the show. The present research addresses two gaps in the literature. First, a methodological one: the employment of creative visual methodologies to transcend the limitations of the most common methods used for audience research —interviews and focus groups. Secondly, this study follows the contemporary conversation around fair representation by addressing what is now a gap in the existing literature on queer television: what is fair representation from an audience perspective? The results of this study show how audiences’ perspectives on fair representation differ from those formulated in public and academic debates.

Author Biographies

Chiara Modugno, Erasmus University Rotterdam (The Netherlands)

Chiara Modugno (modugno@eshcc. eur.nl) is a junior lecturer in the Media and Communication department at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication or the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Her research is mainly focused on the intertwining of gender and popular culture, in particular as concerns the realms of gender studies and television production. She is currently focused on diversity in representation, both as concerns content and audience reception of television products.

Tonny Krijnen, Erasmus University Rotterdam (The Netherlands)

Tonny Krijnen (krijnen@eshcc.eur.nl) is an assistant professor of Media Studies at the department of Media and Communication of the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Her current research focuses on television, big data and TV production, gendered morality and emotions, and transnationalisation of the TV industry. Her work is published in a variety of journals such as International Journal of Cultural Studies, New Media & Society, and Communications. In 2015, her book (co-authored with Prof. dr. Sofie van Bauwel) Gender and Media was published with Routledge, a second edition appears in 2020. Tonny is also the chair of the IAMCR’s Popular Culture Working Group; member of the board for the Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and from 2006 till 2012 she served as the (co)chair of the Gender and Communication Section of ECREA



2021-07-03 — Updated on 2021-07-04


How to Cite

Modugno, C., & Krijnen, T. (2021). ‘Difference Is the One Thing That We Have in Common’: A Photovoice Exploration of Fans Articulating Fair Representation in Netflix’s ‘Sense8’. Tripodos, (50), 37-56. https://doi.org/10.51698/tripodos.2021.50p37-56 (Original work published July 3, 2021)