tv show

Leave Your Door Open For The OA

*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!

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Well Rebecca, you’ve done it now! – A Love Letter to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

*Contains some Spoilers for the series*

Since the musical comedy/drama Crazy Ex-Girlfriend concluded last week, I felt I had to write a love letter to this lovely, quirky, awesome, amazing show.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend stars Rachel Bloom (co-creator of the show with Aline Brosh McKenna) as lawyer ‘Rebecca Bunch’ unhappy with her life in New York decides after a chance encounter with her ex-boyfriend ‘Josh Chan’ (Vincent Rodriquez III) to move to West Covina, California. “It happens to be where Josh lives but thats not why she’s here!” to quote the season 1 theme song, As soon as Rebecca arrives in West Covina appropriately with the first song of the series ‘West Covina’, her world instantly looks a lot brighter compared to the dull, muted colours of New York! Long story short Rebecca quickly finds a new job at West Covina law firm ‘Whitefeather Associates’ ran by the loveable but awkward ‘Darryl Whitefeather’ (Pete Gardener) , it is here she also meets her future frenemy/bestie Paula Proctor (Donna Lynne Champlin). Without giving too much away for people who have not yet seen the show, much of the first season is about Rebecca trying to win back the affections of her ex, while denying that he was the real reason she moved to West Covina!

“I’ve never seen a pretzel this big! 🥨”

The first thing I love about this show is that it subverts a lot of tropes, the main one being the title of the show, Rebecca does suffer with mental health issues but she is a 3-dimensional character who is not just lazily written off as being ‘Crazy’. The show approaches the topic of mental illness extremely well not just passing it off as some silly joke like other show’s might, they handle the topic with the delicacy it deserves. I’ve often found with a lot of films/TV shows which portray characters suffering from mental illness the characters often ‘cure’ their depression etc by the end of the story, where as Crazy Ex follows the more realistic approach, that mental health is something that you need to work at, there is no magical ‘I’m cured!’ moment. The fact that Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna consulted a panel of doctors to make sure they wrote an accurate diagnosis for Rebecca reveals how much love and care is put into the show.

To cope with the stress in her life Rebecca has developed an interesting coping mechanism, she imagines certain moments in her life as musical numbers. The musical numbers are all original songs written for show and encompass a vast array of musical genres from Broadway,EDM,Pop,Hip-Hop and more! (I honestly think there is something for almost everyone’s musical taste) ‘You Stupid Bitch’, ‘Dream Ghost’ and We’ll Never Have Problems Again’ being some of my favourite songs from the series (I’ll have to do a top 10 post at some point!)

“We’ll Never Have Problems Again!”

Another think I really like about the show is it’s diverse cast, there are characters of various ethnicities and members of the LGBTQ community within the main cast. its refreshing to see ‘Josh Chan’ an Asian-American as the lead ‘heartthrob’ who Rebecca moves across the country for. Darryl’s story arc, where he discovers his bisexuality is another example of something often not seen on TV. Shows are often criticised for writing characters that don’t want to identify as bisexual, with Darryl this is completely subverted, there is even a song, ‘Gettin’ Bi’ which perfectly deconstructs the popular misconceptions of bisexuality to an 80’s inspired tune.

Heather played by Vella Lovell is another stand out character for me, her snarky, sarcastic delivery is always on point. I especially love Heather’s Anti-High School Musical-esque number “The Moment is Me” which she sings after graduating college, which is an example of classic Heather at her best!

I love the quotability of the show, “that was super rando!” is now very much part of my vocabulary! My partner and I often find ourselves quoting ‘We’ll Never Have Problems Again” when we encounter couples in the honeymoon phase and my best friend and I often end up singing “I Have Friends”. The way that all of these songs and quotable moments have stuck with me, convey what a special show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was/is and I look forward to re-visiting the show many times in future!

(The whole series of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is available on Netflix)

PS I have recently booked tickets for Rachel Bloom’s London show (IM SO EXCITED!!)

PPS since this is a Memeow Blog post after all…

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