Review: The OA is Super Weird, and That’s What Makes It Must Watch

Photo Courtesy of Netflix

The OA Series Premiere Plot Summary:

Prairie Johnson (Britt Marling), a blind girl who has been missing for years, mysteriously returns home after the YouTube video of her attempted suicide goes viral, and her adoptive parents (Scott Wilson, Alice Krige). Prairie’s whereabouts for the past seven years remains a beguiling mystery — she won’t divulge any information to her parents, but she seems hellbent on recruiting people to help her out on a “mission.”

Netflix’s new series, The OA is super weird. Now some of you may be thinking to yourself, “Well, Stranger Things was weird, and I liked that, so…” Okay let’s stop the logic train right there. Stranger Things, was a show that was weird, but also funny, relatable, nostalgic, and had an overwhelming sense of familiarity to it. The OA has none of these. So if you’re in the mindset of “Oh, if you loved Stranger Things you’ll love The OA” you might be in for a shock to the system. Now if you’re into the paranormal, the metaphysical, or enjoy shows that really play with subjects like time, reality, and is told on multiple timelines — you’re good. Basically, if you own Donnie Darko on DVD, you’re definitely going to be more comfortable than the person who enjoyed Stranger Things because of the Goonies-esque camaraderie of the cast.

With that out of the way, The OA is not a comfortable show. It takes you out of your television comfort zone with its stark atmosphere, it’s layers of mystery, or from the sheer fact that the opening credits don’t appear until 30-45 minutes into the episode.

To some this will be an absolute turn off. While to the others, particularly all you who felt Westworld really fell short, you’ll be absolutely entranced by The OA’s premiere.

Britt Marling, who both created and stars in the series, is the perfect choice to play the fragile, weird, and fascinating, Prairie Johnson. She’s not a familiar face (although she’s done a ton of work on the indie scene), so any preconceived notions about what she brings to the table (as opposed to an established name) is as much of blank slate as the character she portrays. This gives her performance incredible depth and credibility, and those are probably the wrong words for it. In short — she is this character. You’ve never seen her before, so to this viewer, she is Prairie Johnson. She embodies and embraces the weirdness, and the mystery of the series even without saying much. Basically, her character is the Trojan horse for the rabbit hole we’re about to enter.

The rest of the cast isn’t very well established in the first episode outside of Patrick Gibson’s misunderstood, death drive teen Steve Winchell, and The Office’s Phyllis Smith as Elizabeth “Betty” Broderick-Allen, Winchell’s teacher. Smith, in her short time on screen, is probably the most interesting supporting character as she completely divorces herself from her former sitcom self, and delivers a rich, and complicated (and yes, mystery-laden) performance.

The ending of the episode, which won’t be spoiled here, is the equivalent of walking into a glass door. You think you see what’s ahead of you; then wham you get nailed with what’s actually going on. And what’s going on in The OA is such a trippy, intoxicating, and out there world, that (if you’re into this type of show) you’ll be dying to watch more of.

Buyer beware — this is not Stranger Things. What this is is a unique television show that will hook you if you give it a chance.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites