Already in 2016brought us two very different shows about girls with weird superpowers.
One was. The other was The OA, a mind-bending mystery set in a small town with a villainous scientist conducting inhuman experiments.
One of those shows is no longer on the air. Yet The OA is still the second best TV show to sink into Netflix’s mines. We believe the best show isbut OA is not far behind.
The OA is hard to describe because it combines a handful of different genres into its own ethereal plane. OA is surreal at times. Yet instead of floating images gently bumping into each other, the science fiction here is delivered with the grounded confidence of a Christopher Nolan film. It moves with the same relentless force.
Our lead and main character is Prairie Johnson. In the very first scene, Prairie, a young blonde woman, jumps off a bridge. When she woke up, she went home. He had been missing for seven years.
No one knows what happened to her. Her return is a miracle. Even more shocking: once blinded, she can see again.
Prairie has scars on her back and has experienced traumatic episodes, but she won’t burden her adoptive parents with her story. Instead, she uses the Internet, finding like-minded friends through YouTube.
From here on out, the story functions a bit like the mystery in the. We don’t know if Prairie is telling the truth to her new friends or not. We don’t know if she really has supernatural powers. For them, it doesn’t matter at all. She unites unhappy, trapped people, showing them the same kindness and understanding they gave her. Showing them an escape.
The OA comes from longtime creative team Brit Marling (who also stars as Prairie) and Zal Batmanglij. The show seems like the product of buzzing minds excitedly throwing out idea after idea. The OA is as intense as it is dense, exploring the human condition, mortality, the afterlife, and… the multiverse.
This is true. Forget it. 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 the way it works follows the most unexpected rules.
The OA also doesn’t follow any strict TV series formula. The opening credits don’t appear until 57 minutes into the show. It was written as an eight-hour film with a novelistic 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 turns into a noir detective story set in Silicon Valley where kids, one of whom is played by Zendaya, disappear after competing in a VR game on an app. Filmed with a cleaner look, Season 2 is a little less dark than the character drama of Season 1. There are even attempts at humor – Marling is no stranger to comedy, appearing in the public and British series Babylon.
Sometimes The OA’s literary voice hits a gem. “To exist is to survive an unfair choice,” someone tells Prairie.
So it’s a little baffling that Netflix canceled the show after two seasons. Somehow this ambitious, genre-bending ball of tangled threads is a coherent, life-affirming experience.
It sticks together with realistic, loyal characters bonded by their harrowing shared trials. There’s even a believable love story, a spark of warmth amidst the creepy science, cryptic puzzles and trippy imagery.
Netflix made a mistake by canceling this show. Many fans believed it was a publicity stunt — there was no way the streamer would stop funding this critically acclaimed, if expensive, series that was slated for five seasons, each wildly different in style and setting from the last.
Surprisingly, the end of season 2 almost works as a finale for the entire series. Yet Marling and Batmanglij have the real conclusion hidden somewhere. Let’s pray they get a chance to release season 3 on screen. Someone please jump dimensions and save this show from the realm of canceled TV.
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