- 30 Apr 19
Let’s get metaphysical: The OA
In 2016, Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij dropped the first season of The OA on Netflix. For viewers who were not familiar with Marling’s and Batmanglij’s previous offerings, Sound Of My Voice and The East, the series’ strange narrative may have been a bit jarring.
The American sci-fi show follows a woman named Prairie, who resurfaces after being missing for seven years. So far, so straightforward, you might think. The kicker is that somehow, over this period of time, Prairie has regained her vision after losing it in her childhood – and that’s just the jumping off point. And the longer The OA goes on, the odder it gets.
The deep-seated and metaphysical mythology that pervades the entire show is by turns intriguing, magical, batshit crazy, and even occasionally silly. Season two is no exception, and in many ways takes even more narrative risks than the first. These qualities have led the show to garner a cult following, and like most cult shows and movies, it tends to be polarising. If you aren’t into The OA after the first few episodes, there’s no point in continuing. But if you’re willing to go in with an open mind and embrace it for what it is, the series can be a rewarding and absorbing watch.
The OA’s slow pacing gives Marling and Batmanglij a chance to explore the lives of the supporting characters, and some complex themes, such as Prairie’s readjustment to society and family life. All the while, it trickles out new information about the central mystery. Sometimes it can feel like there are more questions than answers, but just when you might be getting impatient, unexpected twists and revelations draw you back in.
Marling, who plays Prairie, and the rest of the cast turn in such great performances, it’s hard not to cheer them on and hope for happy resolutions. Thanks to the distinctive vision presented by Marling and Batmanglij, the most mind-boggling ideas and surreal occurrences are grounded by a humane and diverse set of characters. Without these elements, The OA would have quickly devolved into a convoluted mindfuck, but instead, it’s something to binge on and behold. It definitely won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but The OA’s strong second season will enthral its fanbase – and perhaps even draw in a few floating punters.