Love it or hate it, the Netflix series The OA is one of the most unusual and daring TV shows in years. Writer Sara Lynn Michener says that much of the show’s originality comes from series co-writer and star Brit Marling.
“A lot of content creators—a lot of showrunners—are out there going, ‘OK, what’s the next big story?’” Michener says in Episode 376 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “Or they sort of latch onto other people’s stories and say, ‘How do we tell this?’ But you really feel that sense of authenticity from her, that she is very desperately trying to rearrange the way that we tell stories entirely, and I just have so much respect for her.”
Unfortunately for the show’s small but devoted fanbase, Netflix recently canceled The OA after two seasons. Science fiction writer Anthony Ha was disappointed but not surprised, given recent trends at Netflix.
“They had a really bad quarterly earnings report, and subscriber growth is not going the way they want it to, so they had a number of cancellations around the same time,” he says.
Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley had major misgivings about the season 2 finale, but is still disappointed that the show is ending.
“I would give a lot to know what the plan was for seasons 3, 4, and 5, and I would be happy to have it demonstrated that they had something that was going to work,” he says. “I think it’s an absolute tragedy if we never find out the answer to that question.”
Even if there are no more episodes of The OA, screenwriter Rafael Jordan is confident that Marling will continue to produce great work.
“I think Brit Marling is one of the most talented people in Hollywood,” he says, “and I think if that’s the end of the show, it was still two superlative seasons and we were lucky to have it.”
Listen to the complete interview with Sara Lynn Michener, Anthony Ha, and Rafael Jordan in Episode 376 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Anthony Ha on Hap:
“He clearly has ambition and greed and anger, but that doesn’t obviate the idea that he has ideals as well, and he feels maybe the most human of any of the characters on the show, and in general I like the arc that they took him on. I think with a number of television shows—and also the Marvel movies—there’s this [pattern] where as the villains stick around they become softened, and become more like anti-heroes or allies of the heroes, and I think in this case they did something really smart by continuing to reveal different aspects of him without ever soft-pedaling the monstrousness of what he was doing.”
Sara Lynn Michener on the Bay Area:
“Throughout the year they have these crazy parties that are often themed, where people walk around reciting scripts and reading poetry, and there are just a lot of really strange little subcultures and communities in San Francisco. … There’s a lot of drugs and a lot of money, and a lot of people who feel sort of disenfranchised and are trying to expel themselves from this world that they’re actively participating in, and trying to see themselves beyond it. And there’s a lot of tech bros who are trying to save the world in less than ethical ways, and so [The OA] is just nonfiction to me. Which is hilarious to say about something so out there, but it’s true.”
Anthony Ha on Azrael:
“Going into the scene there’s this slightly sinking feeling of, ‘Oh my god, they’re going to do tentacle porn? Seriously?’ But then it’s just shot so beautifully. There’s no winking at the audience. … Just the detail where he says, ‘My name is Azrael, but you call me Old Night,’ and there’s no explanation for why that is. There’s this kind of confidence when the show is making a big ask, it doesn’t try to hold your hand or soft-pedal it. It just says, ‘Yes, we are going to have a school shooting and they’re going to fight it with interpretive dance, we are going to have a telepathic octopus who communicates with her through his suction cups, just go with it.’ And I really liked that.”
Sara Lynn Michener on originality:
“Every time we see a new Disney remake come out, if you go into the comments section—which for some reason I do, because I’m crazy—people are like, ‘Why do we have the same stories over and over? Why don’t we have new stories?’ [The OA] is what it looks like when you do new stories. You don’t just mess with what the story is, you mess with the structure of storytelling itself, and what people believed that they have been led to expect. And people get upset if you take that away. It’s like, ‘You ask for new stuff, but when we give you new stuff you give up halfway through the season. You stop watching and you declare it unwatchable.’ And it’s tragic to me.”