Review: The OA

From beginning to end, I found myself completely absorbed in the alternative narrative and complex dynamic of how the story unfolded. However, The OA is not without fault, there are many moments where this show abandoned the rules of storytelling in its aim to execute a far-fetched concept.

The protagonist, Prairie Johnson, makes a dramatic return after seven years and we follow her personal account of how she was tortured during her time missing. Her stories incorporate out of this world discoveries about life and death, how she regained her sight and some questionable interpretive dancing. The cinematography displayed in this show is above and beyond my initial expectations for a Netflix series. The use of vibrant colours and attention to every last detail are reminiscent of Stranger Things but don’t be fooled into expecting the same vibes.

There are so many plot holes in Prairie Johnson’s (Or as she prefers, OA) story, that it makes you question if she is absolutely delusional. While in many other shows you want to feel empathy or sympathy for the main character, she proves to be difficult to connect with. Perhaps it’s because all of her experiences and claims seem outlandish, you suspect that she might be stringing you along. You find yourself connecting more with the characters around her whose individual stories certainly don’t lack in substance.

One of the biggest problems with a show like this is that it seems to exist for those who are willing to go into it blindly, it lives in the realm of ‘No Spoilers’. Even while watching it you feel tempted to look up what’s happening but that ruins the very effect of what the entire show is based on. Simply put, if you don’t like being confused, you’ll hate this show. Despite the fact that The OA only aired less than a month ago, much has been said about the show on social media and it’s caused a stir of mixed comments and reviews.

The OA
Some people are just naturally awkward looking when they queue.

When discussing the show’s finale with a friend who had also binged it overnight, they said they felt it was an ending where you had to come to your own reasoning and conclusion. If this was the director’s intention then they achieved this. It seemed as though the writers needed a reason to have all the characters in the same place on the brink of a tragedy but the appearance of a lone gunman and the random school shooting seemed like a weak attempt to connect it all to gun violence. Somehow they turned a series that was based on mystery and fantasy into a slight political dig at society all while making the audience question the sanity of the main character.

I felt like the final episode was a lazy attempt at wrapping up the story without having to give further explanation to its audiences about what was fiction and what was reality. I know many felt very cheated by it. Of all the conclusions that they could have chosen to end the show on, they chose the least satisfying one.

When analysing the show as a whole The OA did successfully stretch the imagination to the point where you think it might snap. This could be why I would still (hesitantly) recommend it as one of the best, if a bit convoluted, Netflix shows released this year.

Zainab Boladale

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