The Netflix original The OA got significantly better as it progressed through the episodes and ultimately ended in me believing the viewing experience was a worthwhile endeavor (beyond the fact that it was required). In class our discussion centered largely around the believability of the OA’s story, plot holes and something to be desired in character development. While, these topics and others I omitted control a large portion of the discussion around this show I found a different topic we touched on slightly much more compelling. The meaning I found in this show was in bringing to the viewers mind the telling of traumatic experiences across various mediums and the need to listen.
This idea was not evident at first to me and really took until a specific scene in episode 8 for it to click. The scene being when the FBI psychologist encountered Alfonso in the house and Alfonso tells him all OA’s stories were lies. Then the FBI psychologist tells him whether her story was lies or not just by listening to the OA, Alfonso took her pain away so she could survive. This idea of using media/ communication to take others pain away after a traumatic experience is what I believe to be the most powerful message in The OA. Then beginning to look at the mediums which horrors are told we look at when The OA first decided to tell her story to the group. She needed them to believe her and immerse themselves. She wanted and very possibly needed a medium where her audience had the ability to give and take. This doesn’t seem too hard until you think about how few media mediums actually offer this.
This then sparks somewhat of a transmedia debate by bringing into scope what effects her story being told in a different medium other than verbal storytelling would have on her story, her and her pain. The OA made evident in the show that the use of a book was not what she needed, as in her own words her story wasn’t finished. Similarly, other mediums like an audiobook or movie I believe would not have worked either as they also lack the give and take. Then if you look at the only medium other than storytelling with give and take you are left with an online blog. Although, the army of anonymous online people I think we can all agree has its downsides. Leaving us with the ultimate question of were there any other viable mediums for The OA to tell her story?
Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not comment on the scene about the author coming to turn The OA’s story into a book. In my opinion, turning tragedies into profit is an absolutely disgusting type of literature. It is one thing for an author to be approached to write a story, it is a completely different thing for a person to be approached by an author. Turning a profit on someone else’s misery to me is horrible. I understand it garners publicity and potentially wealth for that person, but if that is not what they need then to me it seems little more than exploitative.