Amazon Review: The OA, by Turner Schmidt

If you can handle a show with an interesting concept but somewhat confusing organization, then Brit Marling’s first season of The OA is right for you. This Netflix Original is about Prairie (otherwise known as The OA) and her troubling and strange life story. She grew up in Russia with her father where she experienced a near death experience which blinded her. She was then subsequently put up for adoption and later adopted by an American couple. She decided later in life to run from her adopted parents while blind, in search of her Russian biological father. On her return home to her adopted parents seven years later, Prairie had full eyesight, and an extremely troubling story to tell to a select few.

While missing, Prairie was (allegedly, according to her telling) kidnapped by the evil Dr. Happ, who was obsessed with studying near death experiences. In order to study his obsession, Dr. Happ kidnapped and enslaved people who had near death experiences and put them through countless near-death experiences in order to study what happened after death. Along with Prairie were a handful of other enslaved people who Dr. Happ was studying. Through their numerous trips to the afterlife and back, Prairie and her other enslaved friends picked up a series of movements that when put together, had the power to heal, send people to other dimensions, and (spoiler alert) stop school shootings. After Dr. Happ caught on to the movements and learned them himself, he freed Prairie, leaving her with the mission of teaching a group of friends in her hometown the movements in order to free her friends that were still trapped by Dr. Happ, or worse, in another dimension.

One of the main components of this show was time and how it was broken up. We learned all about Prairie’s story of kidnapping and enslavement through her telling of her story to others- the show was not played out in chronological order, but rather through a series of flashbacks that could sometimes leave viewers confused. Especially at the beginning of the show, viewers had absolutely no clue of what is going on. But, as the show progressed, everything became clearer until the end, when most questions were answered and the plot began to make sense. I believe that the structure of time in this show was a double-edged sword. On one hand, the breakup of time and the confusion that came with it kept viewers interested and invested in the show, wanting to find out what happened to Prairie and why she brought together a strange group of people to tell her story to. On the other hand, the confusion due to the breakup of time could make viewers disinterested and annoyed.

Another component of the show which bothered me particularly was how silly the dance moves were that Prairie learned in the afterlife. Up until the first dance moves, I was invested and interested in the show. But once Prairie started doing the movements, I immediately lost interest. Really? Of all things she could have learned in the afterlife, she learned those silly dance moves that had magical powers? The dance moves had me rolling my eyes and shaking my head. As I watched them for the first time, I cringed the entire time, and the last scene of the show pretty much ruined the entire thing for me due to the dance movements.

Lastly, I thought the concept of the show, near death experiences and the afterlife, was a very interesting topic to explore (although I didn’t like that the dance moves were what came out of the afterlife). To me, the afterlife is the number one biggest mystery in the universe, which is really what kept me invested in this somewhat confusing show. Hopefully the next season of the show will get rid of the dance moves and explore the afterlife in a more mature and less silly manner.

All in all, I give The OA a 3.6 out of 5 stars. The topic of the show was interesting and the characters were deep and well developed, but a few flaws such as the order of time and the silly dance moves could deter viewers from watching. Hopefully the second season will have a less confused sense of time and ditch the silly dance moves in favor of a deeper look into the afterlife.

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