Created by: Zal Batmanglij, Brit Marling
Starring: Brit Marling, Emory Cohen, Scott Wilson, Alice Krige
The OA is an original series, or maybe better defined, miniseries from Netflix. The series follow The OA, or Prairie, a young woman that disappeared as a child. She randomly returns some years later. The real mystery around her return is that when she vanished she was blind and upon her return her memories are gone but her vision has returned.
The first half of the series follows a unique narrative as the OA’s past is revealed to a ragtag group of misfits while current events and mysteries unfold. Following this group of youngsters as they work together to learn more about this mysterious woman is some of the real meat to the story. There’s a great deal of social commentary here defining what isolation and feeling disconnected as a youth really means. That feeling of being out of control is the same across all classes, genders, and personalities. What sets these kids apart is how they handle these feelings in the world at large. They learn this truth as they work together for a common goal. These sequences work better than any other part of the story.
Some of the best monster movies, and this is not a monster movie, or alien stories, and this is not an alien story, are the best because you never really see the monster or the alien. The imagination in the mind is often really hard to beat, and sometimes a story that’s steeped in relatable real world characters can’t render the fantastic without coming off cheesy. Another Netflix series stepped close to the line but never crossed it. The big reveal in that series worked near flawlessly within the world the series designed. The big reveals that starts happening around the midway point not only feel cheesy for sure, and the tools the teens must use by the series end just look plain dumb. On a side note, this series also begins to straddle the religious line, but it never really gets preachy. The visual representations of the fantastical just don’t work, they look silly and play even worse.
The OA reminds me of one of those great Stephen King novels taken to TV where the majority of the story is spent expertly assembling characters and building the world only to have the finale sputter and fail. The best example is The Stand. That book works as a book but the mini series is fantastic until the end. It feels rushed and unfulfilling just as the ending to The OA feels. It’s a real shame honestly because the first half of this series is just so good. From the halfway point the show veered from laughable to disappointing. There were bright spots between that kept me to the end the final verdict has to be that The OA is a bit of a letdown.