TV NewS: Netflix Cancels The OA

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Netflix Cancels The OA and Your Dreams of Seeing the Octopus Again
By Jordan Crucchiola@jorcru

Photo: Nicola Goode/Netflix

A campaign to save The OA had only just gotten started on social media, but Netflix put the breaks on that straightaway. The streaming giant will not pick up The OA for a third season, despite its singularly earnest wackiness. The series was created by Brit Marling and director Zal Batmanglij, with Marling starring as a young woman who grew up blind, disappeared for years, reemerged with sight and mysterious scars on her back, and then bonded with a group of kids in the small town she lived in and disclosed both her story as well as some secrets of the universe to them. In season two, she became a glam Russian heiress, among many, many other things. But even though the show is over, Marling will live on as our one true Original Angel, and at least we have video of Jason Isaacs doing the now-iconic OA Movements.


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The OA star Brit Marling reacts to show's cancellation

By Clark Collis
August 05, 2019 at 03:36 PM EDT
FBTwitter
The OA
TYPE
  • TV Show
NETWORK
GENRE
Season 2 of Netflix’s The OA ended on a jaw-dropping revelation, which we won’t spoil here but truly whetted fans’ appetites for more adventures in the world — and, indeed, worlds — of this dimension-hopping science fiction show.

Alas, it seems those are adventures we will never see.

On Monday, the show’s co-creator and star Brit Marling confirmed on Instagramthat the show has been canceled.

“Some of you may know already or some of you may be learning from this letter that Netflix will not be continuing The OA,” wrote Marling, who created the show with Zal Batmanglij. “Zal and I are deeply sad not to finish this story. The first time I heard the news I had a good cry. So did one one of our executives at Netflix who has been with us since the early days when we were sketching out Hap’s basement on the floor of our production office in Queens. It’s been an intense journey for everyone who worked on and cared about this story.”
 

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Fuck that show.

After that bullshit season one ending I would have never watched again.

However all these cancelations are a result of Netflix feeling the pressure to create new lasting content since they are going to continue using the rights to stream programming owned by competitors who are launching their own services.
 

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Is The OA Fake-Canceled or Am I Just Losing My Mind?
By Rachel Handler

Me on Reddit at 3 a.m. Photo: Netflix

When I got off an eight-hour flight on Monday and read that The OA had been canceled while I was in the air, I cried for an hour straight in a cab on the way home. Yes, I was jet-lagged, and, yes, I had just watched The Greatest Showman against my will, but this is objectively an embarrassing thing to admit and I should be appropriately owned for it. But the thing is, The OA was embarrassing! To attempt to describe the central premise of The OA to a friend is to sound like an absolute lunatic. The OA required a deep suspension of disbelief, but if you gave it that suspension, you were rewarded with so much: psychic octopi, omniscient trees, houses that were actually portals to other dimensions, dance movements that transported people across space and time, the obliteration of death, flowers growing out of people’s brains, a blind woman who calmly saws beautiful sandwiches in half under extreme duress.

But most of all, if you allowed yourself to be swept away by The OA’sstrange, gently bonkers poetry, you were rewarded with an increasingly rare sort of hopefulness. Comparisons are often made between The OA andTwin Peaks—another absolutely unhinged show I adore about time, space, and blonde women trapped in interdimensional rooms — but Twin Peaks wasn’t a hopeful show. Twin Peaks held a mirror to humanity’s darkest, most nefarious impulses; it ended with its main characters trapped eternally in the wrong dimension, howling infernally.Conversely, The OA was a show about believing in impossible things (and I don’t mean psychic octopi and brain flowers). The OA was one of the only contemporary shows I’ve ever seen that leaned on the notion — as creator-writer-star Brit Marling put it in her mournful post-cancellation Instagram post — “that the collective is stronger than the individual,” that “there is no hero,” that “humans [are] one species among many and not necessarily the wisest or the most evolved.” It was one of the only shows to grapple directly and beautifully with things like toxic masculinity, American gun violence, PTSD and trauma, the pitfalls of capitalism, impossible ethical quandaries — all this on top of coming up with that freakin’ octopus and staffing one of the most diverse casts and crews in TV history.


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It’s embarrassing to be hopeful in 2019 — to believe, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, that we might someday fix our shit and strive toward a better world, a world where our children will not calmly slay one another in a public arena for access to vegetables. But I felt that way, watching The OA, just like I felt that maybe in another dimension, another me was a wildly famous pop star with 17 pools. In other words, beneath all of its surface absurdities, The OA was really a show about vulnerability.

In the spirit of that vulnerability, let’s dive deep into the realm of the internet conspiracies together, shall we? The fact that Netflix canceled The OA, then handed $200 million to Game of Thrones failbros D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, felt like a plot twist so on the nose that Weiss and Benioff could’ve written it themselves. Which is why so many of the show’s die-hard fans are determined to believe that The OA isn’t actually canceled — that instead, this whole thing is a long con or publicity stunt executed by Netflix, Marling, and co-creator Zal Batmanglij. Five days into my own personal shiva for The OA, I began to wonder: Could these people be right? The answer: Well, no, absolutely not. But let’s hop onto Reddit and examine the evidence anyway because I’m very sad.

1. The Meta Finale (Originator: Reddit)
In the second-season finale, the OA and her captor, Hap, travel to another dimension where actors named “Brit Marling” and “Jason Isaacs” are filming a TV show called The OA in a dimension that looks very much like our own.Brit falls and hits her head and is rushed to the hospital; the last time we see her, she’s unconscious. Some redditors believe that the show’s “cancellation” in our dimension is part of the setup for the third season — a way for Marling and Batmanglij to indicate that the show is, in fact, taking place in real life, and that it’s “canceled” because Brit has smacked her little keppie. This seems cruel and unusual, but also fine with me. I accept being manipulated by a corporation in this profoundly extra fashion.

2. Jason Isaacs’s Instagram (Originator: Reddit)
Jason Isaacs has posted several suspicious items on social media over the past few days. Just days before The OA’s cancellation, he posted a video of himself and co-star Emory Cohen doing “the movements,” or the dance moves that allow the characters on The OA to casually travel between dimensions. “To the many obsessed and wonderful devotees who approach me all over the world to ask if and when we’re carrying on the story: I’m in the same club as you — I think it’s utterly brilliant, I’m dying to know what happens next and I’m waiting for the phone to ring. Don’t ask me #AskNetflix!” Later, after the show’s cancellation was announced, he tweeted, “Farewell Prairie, who I loved, Homer, who I feared, Steve, who confused me, Scott, Rachel and Renata who I hoped would forgive me and understand in time, somewhere.” He ended his message as follows: “Practice the movements, and I’ll see you on the other side.” Some fans believe that because Isaacs’s good-bye posts are written “in character,” we’re supposed to read them as if they’re from “Jason Isaacs,” not Jason Isaacs; and “Jason Isaacs” is sad because the show is canceled because his dumb wife fell from a wire. Do you follow? Cool.

3. Zal Batmanglij’s Response (Originator: Reddit)
Batmanglij replied to Isaacs’s post by referring to him as “Jason or Hap or whoever is in there.” Either the sweet, forlorn words of a bereft creator — or a clue that we are all just pawns in Netflix’s wild-eyed, late-capitalist game.

4. Brit Marling’s Instagram Post (Originator: Reddit)
In her absolutely devastating Instagram post announcing the show’s cancellation that made me cry for 63 minutes straight in a stranger’s car, Marling makes reference to the “last text message to Grandma Vu,” sent by Buck, who sends it before becoming trapped in another dimension. It’s a series of emoji: an octopus, a glass of wine, a crying face, prayer hands, and a key. As one redditor explained it, “Michelle/Bucks last text to Grandma was referenced in S2 episode 1. BUT we eventually see that it clearly won’t be her last text ever to Grandma because at the end of S2 she’s alive and sitting right next to Grandma. It’s a clue.” This one is a little stretchy, but I will accept it because I am desperate and unwell.

5. Netflix’s Non-Statements (Originator: Reddit)
In the days since the cancellation, fans have been flooding Netflix’s social media accounts with pleas to #SavetheOA, often posting screenshots of themselves canceling their accounts in the process. But Netflix’s social channels have been mysteriously quiet, and redditors have been posting alleged conversations they’ve had with customer-service representatives who won’t confirm the cancellation, explaining that Netflix “hasn’t released any official statement” or press release. The only statement Netflix has made on The OA’s cancellation comes from vice-president of original content Cindy Holland, who merely said, “We are incredibly proud of the 16 mesmerizing chapters of The OA, and are grateful to Brit and Zal for sharing their audacious vision and for realizing it through their incredible artistry. We look forward to working with them again in the future, in this and perhaps many other dimensions.” UM, WHICH DIMENSIONS, CINDY? CINDY? HELLO?????

6. Everybody Loves The OA,Including Kehlani (Originator: Reddit)
#SavetheOA has been trending on Twitter for days, and a lot of extremely important celebrities are very upset, including Rob Delaney and Indya Moore. If the show actually had a numbers problem, why are so many people freaking the fuck out about its cancellation — for example, me and Lea Michele? I, for one, do not want to see what happens when Lea Michele is crossed. The sheer amount of support online is proof that people were and are watching the show. Nobody has given us any real reason why it was canceled. STILL NO ARRESTS?? HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY???

7. Tarot Cards (Originator: Reddit)
One redditor wrote, “I’ve been reading tarot cards for 16 years and I’m quite proficient. I just threw down some cards on ‘Have they already filmed S3 of the OA?’ and the answer was a VERY clear ‘Yes, in secret’ (sun and seven swords) and then showing the contract being solid. ((herophant+world).” If you want to come at whatever paranormal force operates tarot cards, be my guest, but don’t come crying to me when you are permanently cursed.

8. Brit Marling’s Birthday (Originator: Me)
Netflix canceled Brit Marling’s show just days before her birthday. Nobody would do this unless they were kidding or actual demons sent from hell to incite a civilian uprising against God himself. It’s her birthday!

9. Netflix’s President’s Name (Originator: Me)
The CEO of Netflix is named Reed Hastings. So … he reads hastily. So he makes mistakes! This was a mistake and he’s embarrassed to say it. Please tweet at him to say he shouldn’t be embarrassed, but he should read more slowly.

10. It’s Actually Our Responsibility to the Universe to Save The OA(Originator: Reddit/Me)
What if, just like the characters on the show, it’s our responsibility to save the fucking OA????? Like on a metaphysical level, I mean — Netflix is not even involved here. This is bigger than Netflix. This is about the universe!!! What are you doing? Go outside on August 12 at 12 p.m. ET and do the movements! Sign the petition! Stop working! Quit your job! Shed all earthly belongings and attachments! It’s what The OA wants!
 

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Shonda Rhimes, Welcome to the #SavetheOA Movement
By Bethy Squires

Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Shonda Rhimes is just one of many people who aren’t happy with Netflix for canceling The OA, Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij’s show about dimensional travel and the hope such ideas inspire. Rhimes tweeted Thursday night that she was “holding a grudge about the fact that they cancelled @The_OA on us.” Many share her grudge. Cancellation of The OA has been protested with billboards in Time Square, flash mobs, and a hunger strike. Netflix gave the show the ax August 5, which prompted the show’s creators, fans, and even one executive to cry. “The first time I heard the news I had a good cry,” Marling wrote on social media. “So did one of our executives at Netflix who has been with us since the early days when we were sketching out Hap’s basement on the floor of our production office in Queens.” For Rhimes, at least, the time for crying is over and the time for spite has come. If they want to cancel the very concept of hope, what can Netflix expect?

 

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The #SavetheOA Movement Is About More Than a TV Show
By Rachel Handler

The flashmob outside Netflix HQ in Manhattan Monday evening. Photo: Jessica Lauren La France

On a sunny, late-summer Monday evening in New York, I walk up to Netflix’s Manhattan headquarters, looking for a flash mob. Instead, I find one woman standing by herself, wearing the millennial version of a Flashdance ensemble: curly bangs, wide-legged pants, a cropped gray sweatshirt. She waves me over with a smile. “Are you here for The OA?” she asks brightly. “We’re practicing down the street. Come with me.”

The woman’s name, I soon learn, is Jess Grippo. She’s responsible — along with friends Ashley Williams and Eduardo Pacer — for organizing the flash mob that’s about to go down in front of Netflix HQ, as well as the one an hour later in Times Square. On a purely surface level, the point of the flash mob, the latest action by the #SavetheOA movement, is to convince Netflix to renew Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij’s supernatural TV series, starring Marling as a missing blind woman who reappears seven years later with her vision restored. But it quickly becomes clear that the gathering is more about a sort of collective catharsis, a way for likeminded people to come together and find connection inside the cold-sweat grip of late capitalism.

This isn’t Grippo’s first OA-centric dance mob. A former ballerina, she tells me she began watching The OA in 2017 after Trump’s election, and was instantly transfixed by “the idea that movement is healing and powerful — it reminds us that we need art to keep us going, especially in these crazy times.” A few weeks later, she and Williams and Pacer planned a flash mob in front of Trump Tower, where they reenacted what’s known on the show as the “movements,” in an effort to propel him into another dimension. It didn’t work (I think).


On The OA, the movements transport the protagonists across time and space, but only when done in unison and with “perfect feeling.” They represent blind faith, community, and a willingness to be open and vulnerable. On their own, they are a bit difficult to swallow (at first). They’re unnatural and odd. There’s nothing sexy about them. One movement involves putting your hands in front of your mouth like a bird beak; another is a sort of fake stomach stab paired with a hard exhale. But in the context of the show — and the flash mob — the embarrassment is part of the point.

And for a certain subset of people, they are contagious and thrilling. Before Grippo and I can head to the park, we’re stopped by an older woman and her teenage daughter. “Is this the OA flashmob?” she asks. “I’m so excited. Can I take a picture?” Grippo gamely poses for a photo, pulling me into it. I ask the woman why she’s here. “I can’t do the movements, but I really wanted to see them,” she says. “My daughter told me, ‘Watch this show mom, you’re gonna love it.’ I watched it earlier this year and I just fell in love.”

The woman and her daughter, camera in hand, follow us to the park, where Grippo is greeted by two dozen or so people with applause and hugs. The group rehearsesthe movements several times. It’s imperfect, with some slip-ups and loss of synchronicity, but I find myself getting choked up. I’ve written about the show’s rare hopefulness before, but there’s something even more baldly hopeful about watching a group of strangers — ranging widely in age and race and gender — come together and risk looking slightly ridiculous in public, all because they love a piece of art so much. It’s one of the least cynical things I’ve ever seen.

Across the country, on the corner of Sunset and Van Ness, there’s another uncynical movement unfolding. Emperial Young has been standing outside of Netflix’s Los Angeles headquarters since August 16, and hunger-striking since early last week, partly in an effort to convince Netflix to release the rights of The OA back to its creators. But the protest isn’t just about The OA, asYoung explained in a long, five-part thread on Twitter, where she goes by @emverse. The show’s cancellation, she says, is symptomatic of much larger problems: capitalism, greed, the lack of access to mental-health services, and individualism, among other things.

For Young, who’s been supported and trashed online in equal measure, the absurdity of her gesture is the point. “To all the people thinking it is absurd to hunger strike over a TV show: I agree. But you want to know something even more absurd?” she writes. “Tens of thousands of people die in the United States every year because they … cannot afford services to treat mental health issues and medical conditions. Untreated conditions make it harder to obtain employment, making it even more impossible to get help. It’s a capitalist cycle, because in capitalism, an individual who cannot contribute to the system has little to no value.”

That last part is of particular significance to Young. When I call her on Monday night, she’s been standing on the corner all day, holding a handmade sign. I can hear honks of support in the background. She tells me that while she isn’t necessarily a die-hard fan of The OA, she loves the show’s messages of collectivism and sincerity. “When I’m having issues, and I try to reach out and get support, I can’t get anything,” she says. “You leave messages, people don’t call you back. But when things are difficult, you can turn to art. It makes a difference to people who don’t have anything else.”

Young says she’s feeling “great,” despite having eaten nothing for seven days, bolstered by a recent visit from Marling and Zal, who ran out of their car at a red light on her second day of protesting and offered her food and water. “I got a bit starstruck,” says Young. “I didn’t really know how to process it. I could barely speak. They seemed friendly and open and wonderful.” Marling later posted about the interaction on her social media channels, ruminating on themes similar to Young’s protest: “The more news I take in of the world, the more I often feel terrifyingly certain that we are on the brink of moral and ecological collapse … No one is coming to the rescue. We have to save each other. Every day, in small and great ways.”

Back in New York, the flash mob is getting ready to approach Netflix. The building is under construction, so they gather across the street instead. I ask a woman wearing a blue dress with hearts why she’s there. “I was in the first one, and it was so much fun to dance with people that are likeminded,” she says, smiling. “Brit Marling’s character reminds me of myself in a lot of ways. I’m legally blind, so I have a lot of similar childhood memories.” She says she’s here today because “I think we can make things happen with our hearts. That’s why I’m wearing the hearts.”

Most of the flash-mob participants already know each other from Reddit and Discord, or sites like TheOAIsReal.com, where they’ve been speaking for weeks, sharing personal stories and coming up with creative ways to reach Netflix. Among the thousands connecting: a Brazilian ex-nun; a former CEO turned live-streamer; a queer, single Christian mother; an immigration lawyer for the U.S. government; a Hong Kong protestor; a Turkish farmer; a Mexican-American film editor; a bipolar, formerly suicidal Texan teen; and a Scottish philosopher. They’ve also used the channels to plan good deeds in the spirit of The OA, like cleaning up local parks and highways and fundraising for the Amazon rainforest fire.

One 19-year-old woman tells me that she loves the show because “it speaks to issues that a lot of us have dealt with. Trauma, emotional repression, and letting go. It runs the human emotional spectrum. If you’re paying attention, it’s hard not to feel really emotional.” Her friend, who she’d previously only met online, chimes in. “What if we came together? That can be really healing for a lot of people.” The group plans on continuing their efforts long-term. “We’re still figuring out exactly what we want to do long-term, but we want to do something bigger,” says the 19-year-old.

When it’s time for the official performance to start, a hush settles over the dancers. Everyone takes their places, and Grippo stomps her feet three times to signify the beginning of the movements. The group repeats the sequence three times, each with just as much feeling; the whole thing lasts only a few minutes, but it’s palpably sweet and heartfelt, the gentlest and least-inconveniencing protest of all time. Next to me, a young woman films the performance with tears in her eyes. She turns to me. “Not to be weird,” she says, “But it’s like a net that catches people that it’s meant for. Not everyone’s gonna get it. But the people that do, it’s a beautiful thing.”

The mob begins its journey to Times Square, where they’ve recently erected a billboard for their cause via a GoFundMe. I post a video of their performance on Twitter, naively thinking that most people will find the whole thing as sweet and charming as I do. Instead, within minutes, a series of hateful comments start rolling in: “Every day I hate people more.” “Who let these nerds out of their lockers?” “I’m sure some blind people loved Hitler, too, that doesn’t mean he didn’t suck.”

I open my DMs, where I have a message from one of The OA’s writers, Claire Kiechel, whom I’ve been communicating with over the past few weeks, and who’s been entrenched in the #SavetheOA campaign. She politely asks me to take down the video. “My OA kids are getting bullied,” she says. I oblige, and ask her why she thinks the video garnered such a strong negative reaction. “It reminds me of how people reacted to the ending of the first season of The OA,” she writes, referring to the controversial finale, wherein the OAand her cohorts help avert a school shooting by distracting the shooter with the movements. “ Many people claimed their anger was about depicting a school shooting, but I think it hit something much deeper. We’re so used to violence in our media that I think the anger was about not seeing a typical school shooting. In Hollywood’s vision of the world, violence should be met with violence. Our automatic response: ‘That would never work in real life.’”

“True,” she continues. “This is a fantasy, like all media is. The OA just puts forth a different kind of fantasy.”
 
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