The adaptation is now available to stream on Netflix
BY NIC CROSARA, IMAGE BY NETFLIX
Neil Gaiman is one of the most prolific writers of our time and his The Sandman comics are arguably his most famous creation. Despite this, it has taken a long, long time for them to be adapted. But today the highly anticipated series premiered on Netflix, proving to be well worth the wait.
The Sandman is many things. Dark. Fantastical. Philosophical. Epic. . Hopeful. Diverse, and oh so wonderfully queer. But before we dive in, let’s do a quick summary of what The Sandman is all about. The story is set in a place where another world awaits us all when we sleep. It is called The Dreaming. There are “Endless” beings such as Dream, Death and Desire who are personifications of abstract concepts. Dream controls The Dreaming, but when he is unexpectedly captured and held prisoner for a century, his absence causes both worlds to fall into chaos.
Despite the potential the genre holds, LGBTQI representation is lacklustre in fantasy, which is why it’s brilliant that out of The Sandman’s main cast we have a bisexual Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman), non-binary Desire (Mason Alexander Park) and queer baddy Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook), with more LGBTQI side characters and a glorious amount of drag both in the waking and dreaming worlds. Oh, and Gwendoline Christie’s portrayal of a gender-flipped Lucifer Morningstar was absolutely show stopping.
Whilst many fans of the comics were delighted to see the diverse casting announcement, there were those who were opposed to a non-binary actor playing Desire (yes, that’s despite the fact that the character is canonically non-binary in the comics) and a woman playing Lucifer. Unfortunately, most of the outrage stemmed from fans being disappointed by Kirby Howell-Baptiste, who happens to be a Black woman, being cast as Death. Neil was quick to call this out on Twitter: “If you think the Endless have any specific human race or form, you’ve missed something in Sandman. Don’t worry. Watch the show.” He responded to another user saying: “I always thought that people loved Death for who she was. The person that I wrote. I’m astonished to find that, for some people, what they thought she was, was a white woman, and just a white woman.”
I believe that even the biggest haters would find it challenging to not be in complete awe of Kirby’s portrayal of Death. As Neil said in an interview with The Guardian: “I saw 700 auditions. It’s amazing how many amazing, beautiful, talented actresses of all ethnicities and backgrounds can’t say lines like: ‘You are the most appalling excuse for an anthropomorphic personification on this or any other plane!’ and make it convincing.”
My favourite episode from the show was one that focused on Death. I loved how it humanised both her and Dream by exploring their relationship. Yes these siblings are immortal powerful beings, but they are also part of a very dysfunctional family. Viewers watch through teary eyes as Death collects those who have passed, it’s definitely an episode that hits home and carries the show’s existential and philosophical themes.
By the time the 10 episode series draws to a dramatic close, it has adapted the first two volumes of the comics – which means there are eight more that could make up future seasons. The ending of the show will leave viewers desperate for more. The Sandman has already introduced a wide range of characters, and there are so many more to meet. If all goes well, we’ll get to meet them all soon and hopefully the following seasons will be just as, if not more, queer.
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