In 2016, two wildly different shows about girls with superpowers hit Netflix.
One was. The other was a mind-bending mystery set in a small town with an evil scientist who conducted inhumane experiments.
One of these shows is no longer airing. And yet, The OA is still Netflix’s second-best mine-diving TV show. The best show is but The OA is not far behind.
The OA is hard to describe, as it sews together a handful of different genres into its own ethereal plane. OA is sometimes surreal. Yet instead of floating images that gently bump into each other, sci-fi here is delivered with the grounded certainty of a Christopher Nolan movie. He moves with the same relentless force.
Our anchor and main heroine is Prairie Johnson. In the very first scene, Prairie, a young blonde woman, jumps off a bridge. When she wakes up, she is back home. She had been missing for seven years.
Nobody knows what happened to him. His return is a miracle. Even more shocking: once blind, she can see again.
Prairie has scars on her back and is going through traumatic episodes, but won’t burden her adoptive parents with her story. Instead, she turns to the internet, finding like-minded friends via YouTube.
From there, the story works a bit like the mystery in. We don’t know if Prairie is telling her new friends the truth or not. We don’t know if she really has supernatural powers. For them, it doesn’t really matter. She brings together unhappy and trapped people, showing them the same kindness and understanding they bestowed on her. Showing them an escape.
The OA comes from longtime creative team Brit Marling (who also stars as Prairie) and Zal Batmanglij. The show feels like the product of buzzing minds enthusiastically tossing around idea after idea. The OA is as intense as it is dense, exploring the human condition, mortality, the afterlife and… the multiverse.
It’s true. To forget. This is the show to watch if you want a rich, existential look at the interconnectedness of all things. The world of OA is vast and its functioning obeys the most unexpected rules.
The OA also doesn’t follow a strict TV series formula. The opening credits only appear after 57 minutes of the show. It was written like an eight-hour film, with a romantic approach. You don’t meet some of the main characters until a third of the way through.
And season 2 is even better than the first. It becomes a dark detective story set in Silicon Valley, where children, one of whom is played by Zendaya, disappear after participating in a VR game on an app. Shot with a more polished look, Season 2 is slightly less dark than the character drama of Season 1. There are even attempts at humor – Marling is no stranger to comedy, appearing in the Community Series and British Babylon.
Every once in a while, The OA’s literary voice hits a gem. “To exist is to survive unfair choices,” says someone in Prairie.
It is therefore a bit disconcerting that Netflix canceled the series after two seasons. Either way, this ambitious, genre-riding ball of tangled strands is a cohesive, life-affirming experience.
It sticks with realistic and faithful characters bound by their heartbreaking shared trials. There’s even a believable love story, a flicker of warmth amid spooky science, cryptic puzzles, and trippy imagery.
Netflix made a mistake by canceling this show. Many fans thought it was a publicity stunt – there was no way the streamer would stop funding this acclaimed, albeit expensive, series, set to run for five seasons, each very different in style and style. framework of the previous one.
Surprisingly, the ending of season 2 almost works like a finale for the whole series. Still, Marling and Batmanglij have the real conclusion hidden somewhere. Pray they have a chance to bring Season 3 to the screen. Someone please jump into the dimensions and save this show from the canceled television realm.
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