*SPOILER ALERT – contains some spoilers for the first season of The OA*
In December 2016, Netflix dropped the first season of The OA, brought to us by the creative minds of Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij. After Netflix brought us the widely popular,acclaimed show Stranger Things in the summer of 2016, I was expecting The OA to be made from a similar mould. I soon realised when i started watching The OA that the shows were in fact very different, the shows do have some similarities with their sci-fi elements but tonally and storytelling wise they are worlds apart. (Absolutely no shade to Stranger Things!)
The OA revolves around main protagonist Prairie (played by Brit Marling) who arrives back home after being missing for 7 years. Prior to Prairie’s disappearance she was blind. So it is shock to everyone in her home town when they find out that her sight has also returned. Prairie (who know goes by the name ‘The OA’) doesn’t feel comfortable discussing the events of the past 7 years with her parents, instead she seeks solace in 5 strangers.
The 5 recruits (The Crestwood 5) chosen by The OA, leave their houses, leaving their front door’s open and meet at the abandoned house as per their instructions. It is here that the The OA begins her story. It is unknown if there is another reason for the ‘open doors’ aside some sort of trust exercise/showing their openness to believe in The OA. The ‘open doors’ work well as a metaphor for the show itself, as you have to go into the show with an open mind, you have allow yourself to go with the flow and see where the story takes you.
The OA recounts her kidnapping and the ensuing events, with the Crestwood 5 returning day after day to the unfinished house to get the next instalment. Eventually The OA teaches them about the movements, a succession of strange dance moves, there are six movements and if performed simultaneously with 5 other people, it will allow them to travel to another dimension! The movements might seem a little strange at first but you soon get used to them, the movements were created by choreographer Ryan Heffington, who previously did the choreography for Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ and ‘Elastic Heart’ Music videos.
‘The OA’ has a fair few mysteries/unanswered questions which leave the viewer wanting to re-watch the show to look for clues or things they have missed. With the big question of season 1 being is The OA telling the truth or not? Has she just made this elaborate story up as a way of dealing with her trauma? Leaving the viewer and the Crestwood 5 both trying to answer the question of whether this character is telling the truth or if she has completely fabricated this fantastical story. Unlike other shows though ‘The OA’ does answer some of the mysteries along the way and S2 does answer some of the big questions of S1 which is much more satisfying for fans and viewers of the show than just piling on mystery after mystery with no answers in sight. (I’m looking at you ‘Lost’!)
‘The OA’ has a great cast with a lot of interesting and multi layered characters. My favourite characters have to be The OA and Betty Broderick Allen AKA BBA (Phyllis Smith), as felt like I could personally connect with these two characters most, BBA is also great at adding some comedic relief to the show! It also great to see ‘Buck’, a young trans character, played by trans actor Ian Alexander. Jason Isaacs plays the wicked but ever so intriguing to watch ‘Hap’, his scenes with The OA have to be some of my favourite in the series with their cat and mouse dynamic.
Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij have created something special with ‘The OA’, the kind of story that stays with you long after you have experienced it.
I encourage you to watch The OA if you haven’t already and to go into the show with your metaphorical door open!
PS The S2 finale broke my mind!