***SPOILER FREE*** Following the likes of Black Mirror and Stranger Things, Netflix continues its run of compelling, high quality, science fiction-drama series. Created by Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij (Sound of My Voice, The East) and produced by Brad Pitt, The OA is unlike anything you’ve seen before, and will haunt you for days after you've finished watching its eight episodes.
Here are five reasons why this needs to be the shows you binge on over the holidays:
1. Its story is gripping
In the opening moments of the series, a phone records a young woman jumping off a bridge. When brought to a hospital, the woman doesn’t seem to remember who she is or who her family are, referring to herself as ‘the OA’. She is then collected by her (adopted) parents, and we learn she has been missing from home for seven years. She was also blind before and now, mysteriously, she can see.
We meet a young man living in her neighbourhood who possesses a quiet, angry, destructive nature. Over the course of the episode, we meet his teacher and other characters who will make up the story-driving individuals.
The OA is truly enthralling from the opening minutes, and its preceding story builds from episode to episode. It’s a tough one to drag yourself away from, because the more that is revealed about The OA (aka Prairie to her parents), as she tells the companions she has surrounded herself with her life story, the more pulled in the viewer finds themselves. You’ll be invested after the first episode, completely hooked by next few, and won’t be able to stop after the fifth.
2. Its characters are delightfully human and yet intriguingly otherworldly
The OA is played exquisitely by Brit Marling. She captures the strong but delicate nature of her character beautifully, and gives her character such intrigue that you are completely enraptured. The rest of the talented cast lined up includes Emory Cohen and Scott Wilson, as well as The US Office’s Phyllis Smith and Harry Potter’s devilish Jason Isaacs.
Standouts of the cast also include its younger members, Patrick Gibson and Ian Alexander. Gibson is an Irish actor who audiences may recognise from What Richard Did. There’s also Ian Alexander, a transgender boy who plays a transgender character named Buck in a refreshingly sensitive, pure way. While the OA is the individual who connects all these characters, they develop their relationships with one another as well, which makes for some really fascinating story arcs.
3. It themes are thought-provoking without being wanky
Going into the series, as our titular character tells us herself, you have to be open-minded and prepared for anything. The show deals with big themes like the nature of life and death, spirituality versus humanity, alternate realities, worlds and dimensions, and there are a few dream sequences where everything gets a bit trippy. But going with the series’ story and characters ultimately provides a rewarding viewership, so stick with it.
4. Other production qualities
The OA is also just a really well produced series. It is filmed beautifully, and will transcend on smaller as well as bigger screens. The music is also stunning. It has a really interesting layout of episodes where one flows into another and are not limited by set lengths (most are one hour in length but two of them are 30 and 40 minutes longs respectively) which allows the style to compliment the narrative. It is powerfully written and directed as well - it's just really good television.
5. It leaves you wanting more
Here’s hoping there’s another season to the show as matters are left mysteriously open-ended in the final minutes – but then again such is the nature of TV drama. Hell, what’s great about The OA is that even if you dislike the series, find it unconvincing or just don’t buy into it, it’s certainly one that will get people talking.