When deciding how to describe a show one will typically jump to genres, but The OA makes this harder than expected. Someone might disagree and be able to quickly determine a certain genre, but I was at a loss for describing the show. The concepts that it covers and the characters that develop certainly leave you puzzled. However, this is where the show succeeds. Clearly from the title of this post I recommend streamers to binge this show. Keep in mind that it was just released by Netflix with only one season, so be wary of binging right away. I know some bingers like to wait till more material is ready. Back to the point, this was a show that deals with existential ideas. Netflix simply sums up the show with this: “Having gone missing seven years ago, the previously blind Prairie returns home, now in her 20s with her sight restored. While many believe she is a miracle, others worry that she could be dangerous.” That is not much to go off, especially when the first five minutes leave you guessing. It’s very plausible to call this a mystery due to this guessing. As you learn how the show deals with higher powers and out-of-body experiences Sci-Fi is also one of the more viable genres. No matter the case, this show will make you re-imagine your outlook on the world in a spiritual sense. Even if it doesn’t there’s still a sizzling story to be discovered here that requires a little bit of thought.
Centering around one single character and her life from a child to her current status, each other character is a branch onto her story. It is hard to not include too many details because doing so could result in small spoilers. It’s her life and her experience with the idea of resurrection and death that fuels this show. Seeming to grow up in a wealthy, small town suburbia her disappearance causes quite the disturbance. That isn’t even nearly the start of this story. Her reappearance draws light on her life as a child and what occurred during this seven-year hiatus. Coming back, she connects with varying characters that seem to stand out from the rest in this town. When she can tell her story to who she meets it’s as if a whole new show begins and that there are stories packed within stories. This missing young adult is so much more than someone who went missing and the people she meets while gone and the people she meets when back home parallel the disconnects within the show. While on the outside it is an entertaining piece that keeps us on our toes, it also one that reaches into us, welcomed or not. I try not to name our main character because her name becomes rather objective during the show.
She is introduced as Prairie Johnson, as the show progresses her name is rather fluid. I will hold off on the people she meets while missing for the sake of not spoiling anything, but be on the look out for actor Emory Cohen who plays Homer and Patrick Gibson who plays Steve. Cohen is becoming a breakout star and is not to be dismissed in this work. Another actor you might recognize once played Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter, Jason Isaacs. Isaacs gives a chilling performance with a character surrounded by mystique and desperation.
For Walking Dead fans, Prairie’s father is played by Scott Wilson who played fan-favorite Hershel in the show. Although not as large as a character he plays another loving father role, but in a much different sense. Britt Marling cannot be undermined from establishing a strong leading role as Prairie, but the one person who caught my attention the most was Phyllis Smith, who played Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Broderick-Allen. You might remember her from The Office playing a character with the same name. After playing Sadness in Inside Out, it appears that Smith is coming into the limelight.
Her character developed more than I thought it would and ended up becoming one of my favorites. Please comment one of your favorites below if you’d like. I’m curious to see how the show progresses and how each role will mature in the future. The characters that become assembled at the end of season one are a jumbled bunch that almost reflect the differences brought out in The Breakfast Club. Imagine those differences and add an existential plot and you might have a general idea of what The OA is about… maybe not. Binge to find out for yourself!