WTF Is Netflix's The OA? We Investigate.

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There’s a mystery afoot, and it just so happens to be our favorite kind. The TV kind.

Tomorrow, The OA drops on Netflix, and we probably could not know less about it at this point. This both delights us and infuriates us, because we’re both journalists who are used to knowing as much as possible, and TV fanatics who are also used to knowing as much as possible.

Promotion for the show only really started just four days before the release date, on December 12 (though a mysterious Instagram started posting things six days ago) and gives us very little in terms of what this show actually is. So really all we can do until midnight tonight is guess, based on everything we’ve been given so far, which is exactly what we’re about to do!

Behold: everything we currently know about The OA.

On IMDb, the official description of the show is: Prairie Johnson (Brit Marling), who comes home to the community she grew up in with her sight restored. Some hail her a miracle, others a dangerous mystery, but Prairie won’t talk about her seven years missing with the FBI or her parents.

On Youtube, the series is described as a “powerful, mind-bending tale about identity, human connection and the borders between life and death. The Netflix original series The OA is an odyssey in eight chapters produced in partnership with Plan B Entertainment, Netflix and Anonymous Content. The groundbreaking series offers audiences a singular experience that upends notions about what long-format stories can be.” 

The IMDb description is helpful. The Youtube one is not. 

Brit Marling Did It

The writer and star of 2011’s Another Earth seems to be the main creative force behind whatever this is, along with director Zal Batmanglij, whose name is just incredible. 

Other stars include Jason Isaacs and Scott Wilson (Hershel from The Walking Dead), as well as Riz Ahmed (who’s in everything these days) and Phyllis Smith (from The Office), according to clips. However, neither Ahmed nor Smith are listed on the show’s IMDb page. Conspiracy?! 

The Trailer

Based on this trailer, we totally get the formerly blind girl returning home with sight, per the IMDb description. That would be a perfectly fine premise for a show, but the big mystery comes from everything else in the trailer. 

There’s also a weird machine, Jason Isaacs, birds, a lot of running, and lines like “the biggest mistake I made was believing that if I cast a beautiful net, I’d catch only beautiful things,” all while Brit Marling realized she remembers everything

Grounded

A photo posted by The OA (@the_oa) on

Instagram

The show’s main social media account is an Instagram, started six days ago, in which every post is part of a larger sort of poster for the show. Each square has captions like “movement” or “did you enjoy the ride,” but written upside down. Some of the pictures themselves have words like, “How do you cross a border that’s hard to define,” and captions like “If at first you don’t succeed, die and die again.”

Some of the posts are also creepy videos, usually just of a strange song or sound. 

Listen.

A video posted by The OA (@the_oa) on

You just need to see it (and load all images). It’s a creepy work of art. 

Twitter

The show has its own account with exactly five tweets: a link to the Instagram, the show’s trailer (which we’ll get to), and three clips, which have also been uploaded to Youtube.

However, when you click on tweets and replies, five becomes 45. The show’s Twitter has been responding to people tweeting about it with strange quotes or audio clips saying things like “trust the unknown” or “why do we try to understand.” One girl tweeted about how she had another show to binge, and the show tweeted back an audio clip of a robot saying, “You know what they say about repetition.” If people tweet about how they’re going to wake up early to watch it, the account might reply with “RIP.”

Netflix’s main account has also been having some fun. On December 12, they tweeted, “Have you seen death?” They followed that up with “Have you seen darkness?” and “Have you seen the light?” Then, they started posting what looked like cell phone videos of a girl running in traffic and jumping off of a bridge.

Needless to say, Twitter users were concerned. 

What is this, the Westworld maze? 

Or are we watching the sequel to Awake, that Jason Isaacs show we fell madly in love with before it was rudely canceled after one season? 

Marling posted this image on Twitter on Tuesday, which (presumably) reveals some of the episode titles. The last two episodes of the season (series?) are called “Empire of Light” and “Invisible Self.” 

Podcasts? 

The OA has appeared as a sponsor on some odd things, like this week’s episodes of our favorite celebrity nonsense podcast, Who? Weekly, but not even the hosts could explain what was going on other than saying it was a new Netflix original series from Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij.

Why is this show suddenly sponsoring previously unsponsored, seemingly totally unrelated podcasts? Who made this decision? We’re just confused!

So WTF is it? 

Is it secretly a Stranger Things spinoff? Why did we only start hearing about it on Monday? Will it be the next Stranger Things? Will we ever stop equating weird things on Netflix with Stranger Things? Who will be the Barb of The OA

We have no real answers here, but we are definitely basking in these last few hours of blissful ignorance. At this point, this show could be anything. It’s like Schroedinger’s show—both incredible and terrible at the same time, ‘til we open that box. 

Guess we’ll just have to wait a little bit longer to find out, but for now, head to the comments with your theories! 

The OA will be available to watch on Netflix tonight at midnight. 

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