I want to tell you about The OA.
You might not understand why I’d take the time to tell you about a TV show while reality itself seems to be falling apart, children are getting murdered in their homes, and politicians are doing their best to exploit your misery for their gains. But to quote the main character from the first episode, “pretend to trust me until you do.”
With those lines, spoken by the story-telling character to both her in-show audience and, by extension, to the viewers, the show begins a fantastical tale, stretching your imagination and your willful suspension of disbelief to their limits. Asking you to go along for a journey that is both incredibly imaginative and achingly down to earth. The OA dares to tell its story despite knowing that it may lose many viewers along the way, despite knowing full well that there are moments during which some viewers will get up and walk away and declare in their jaded wisdom that the show has jumped the shark. It does not just jump the shark, it leaps, beautifully and acrobatically, over the shark, with a profound lightness of spirit and a deep conviction of purpose. It acknowledges your doubts and embraces them, embraces you for staying along with it, and, in return, rewards you with countless moments of beauty and sincerity. It is immensely imaginative in scope and yet achingly real in its moments. The cast delivers an incredible performance, painfully grounded, painfully sincere. A performance, with such conviction, that if the mountains could hear or see it, tears would be running down their slopes.
There is a scene in the show, no spoilers here, I wouldn’t dare, but there is a scene in the show, towards the end of the first season, that when I re-watch the show, always has me in tears. Something terrible is about to happen, and the characters, with unfathomable and irrational conviction, do the only thing they can do to try to stop the horror from happening. What they do is nonsensical, irrational, as I just said. Yet, they do it, and they do it with such fortitude, such unambiguous hope, such desperate conviction and with such indomitable will that the action itself transcends the fiction of the show, becoming a palpable thing, touching so many viewers that they themselves have taken to performing the same actions outside of the show, because it gives them strength, because it ties them together, because in sharing the love for the show, in sharing the love for the characters and the story, in sharing the sense of community the show fosters and nurtures, in sharing the lessons of the story, they grow stronger and more loving.
The show dares, and it loves, and it dares to love. It does not trade on cynicism. It does not trade on grit or grime. It does not lower itself or cater to a taste bespoiled by genre or convention. It does not debase itself or its ambitions. It rises to meet its own beautiful ambitions and expects its viewers to meet it there. It knows you’re jaded but hugs you anyway. Giving you all the love it has to offer. It knows you’ve been corrupted by shows that appeal to the lower animal in you, shows that want to excite you, or shows that, at best, look for a chuckle. It knows that it’s a lone, calm voice trying to reach you in the midst of a thunderous cacophony of cheaply expensive junk. It knows all this and doesn’t care because it approaches you with an open heart and expects you to meet it the same way. Pretend to trust it, it says, until you do.
There is always a better way ahead, and it starts with the strength of character it takes to be vulnerable and the conviction that sincerity is the only real bedrock of our existence. That sincerity is, in the end, all we can really have.
We start with reality, but we do not stop there. Our battle is always multi-dimensional and cross-modal. To quote from a book I rarely do –
“We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
If you haven’t seen The OA, there’s nothing I can do except recommend that you do, knowing full well that you’ll be heartbroken when season two ends and you find yourself grasping for more time with its characters, more of the beauty it seems to effortlessly and generously offer, and more of a story that goes far beyond the medium that carries it.
Join us on this journey, and help us get it back. Tweet to Netflix, use the #SaveTheOA hashtag, get others on board.