Netflix Continues Trend of Success with ‘The OA’


Never has a TV show left me more confused, angry, and yet strangely satisfied. Netflix’s The OA cannot be pinpointed to one genre — it ranges from mystery to sci-fi to supernatural. The show starts slow and thrusts the viewer into the story without much context. However, The OA is far from fragmented — its plot progression is artful and delightfully leaves you on the edge of your seat, pressing play for the next episode.

The OA tells the story of Prairie Johnson, a previously blind girl who disappeared. Seven years later, she returns to her childhood town with the ability to see, strange scars on her back, and a request for everyone to call her “The OA”. Prairie slowly reveals the tale behind her return and restored eyesight in parallel to the plot and character stories unfolding in the present.

Netflix does another spectacular job assembling a phenomenal ensemble cast, with stars like Jason Isaacs from the Harry Potter series, Brit Marling from Another Earth, Phyllis Smith from The Office, and Raz Ahmed from Rogue One. While these big names elevate the integrity of the show, the real complexity and awe come from the breakout younger stars: Patrick Gibson, Brendan Meyer, Brandon Perea, and Ian Alexander. The cast members work off of each other, creating realistic scenes of panic and serenity and frustration and happiness. The audience develops a true connection to all of the characters, adding to the edge-of-your-seat element.

The OA’s story raises the most questions, and it’s difficult to discuss without revealing too much of the plot. It’s better to go into The OA knowing as little as possible, since the fun of watching the show is catching the nuances that lend themselves to the next big revelation. The show has drawn comparisons to Stranger Things, one of Netflix’s recent big hits. While there are similarities in supernatural details, I believe The OA simply debuted at an inopportune time, when Netflix-watchers were still riding the wave of Stranger Things. Creators Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij give the show merits of its own, crafting their own supernatural and science-fiction elements. The show also has a rating of TV-MA, unlike the family-friendly Stranger Things. Batmanglij’s show dives deep into the human condition and the complexities of life, making it ideal for an older audience.

The show ends on an ambiguous cliff-hanger which, combined with all the sci-fi and supernatural minutiae, leads fans to devise their own theories. Marling and Batmanglij purposely leave the story up to interpretation, but they do have ideas for the second season. Netflix has yet to confirm another season, but I, along with the other fans of the show, desperately need answers.