The OA

For Writers + Pop Culture

The OA: A Near Narrative Experience

This’ll contain spoilers, y’all.

So first off, I really enjoyed the ambiguity of the show as a whole in terms of unreliable narration etc etc but there were just SO VERY MANY storytelling flubs I’m surprised I didn’t end the season rocking in a corner. The most frustrating part for me was it has all the makings of a really tight, interesting story but feels like it was rushed off the line after the second draft.

So here you go, have my draft notes.

1. The Spontaneous Sheriff and his Chekov’s Wife

Oldmate arrives at Hap’s in episode 5 to have a super exposition-y discussion about his wife who suffers from ALS in hopes of… I’m not really sure, actually. At first I thought he was gonna be aiming for something Euthanasia related but instead the whole interaction just… petered out, the result being the Sheriff may as well have hung his dying wife over a mantlepiece as he left.


Prairie’s made her break for it relatively recently – who’s to say some drunk juvenile delinquents didn’t spot her at the mine? The sighting, having made it back to the authorities, means the Sheriff rocks up at Hap’s to see if he’s seen anything on his turf, which Hap would of course deny. The Sheriff could then, trusting Hap, brush the sighting off as “kids these days” and proceed to have a Small Town ChatTM with Hap that includes Hap asking — you guessed it — “how’s your sick wife, bruh?”

As a bonus, let’s say Sheriff Oldmate mentions a recent sharp dip in his wife’s health resulting in an ambiguous hospital trip where we (later) find out she experienced her NDE. This’ll save her having to Ass Pull her childhood NDE when Prairie and Homer heal her in episode 8.

2. Hap is a seriously shitty scientist

Hap’s epic leap to the first two Movements being able to heal is based on zero substantive evidence. The only thing he can realistically assume after Scott’s return is that Prairie and Homer’s Movements can raise the dead and even THEN it stands to reason there’s a few extra questions you’d want to ask yourself about the environmental variables.


we're gonna need a montage
“We’re gonna need a montaaaaaage!”

Show Hap actually living up to the degree I’m assuming he didn’t get out of a cereal box and running CAREFULLY MONITORED EXPERIMENTS. Have Prairie and Homer resurrecting and/or healing animal test subjects while Hap hums over a clipboard muttering, “interesting…”. Hell, you don’t even need to show it, just have Prairie do her voice over thing all, “he tested our powers and we did it because lol totes still prisoners but yeah also how neat is bringing things back to life with the power of interpretive dance??”

3. Renata has the most plot-convenient taste in men of all time

Who the shit looks at a pasty, trembling, early-twenty-something with a head wound and goes, “aw yeah, I’ma hit that”?

When Hap came right out all, “she likes younger men,” I almost yelled at the screen, “BASED ON WHAT??” Like I don’t know about anyone else, but I fully supported this lady’s unwillingness to be hit on by a dude fifteen years her senior (who’s creepily offering shady international travel to boot), choosing instead to dance with the hot shirtless cuban bros.

I can only imagine the writers also weren’t sure how Homer was supposed to seduce this vary capable and attractive woman with hands still covered in his dinner because they skipped straight to the room scene, which less said about that whole affair the better tbh.


Renata still blows Hap off to dance with hot young things but said hot young things are women.

“Stacey, your queer agenda is showing” “GOOD”

This means instead of Homer, next time Hap flagrantly disregards international boarders he takes Rachel. Rachel who can get close to Renata through their shared musical talent and who, otherwise, has LITERALLY NOTHING TO DO IN THIS SHOW I MEAN CHRIST.

Hap would still have to come up with some way of “breaking up” Prairie and Homer but come on guys, I can’t do all the work here.

4. That feel when you’re expecting a stripper but a school shooting jumps out of the cake instead

I get it, we’re not supposed to focus on the shooting beyond the fact it represents a nebulous “act of great evil” the five are supposed to thwart through use of the Movements, but man…

Honestly part of me wonders if this was an American thing that was lost in translation; the anonymous treatment the school shooting was given — never showing the shooter’s face, zero setup for the incident — made it feel less like a horrific, deliberate act perpetrated by a human being and more like how one would include a terrible multi-car pileup in the finale of their story.

In not foreshadowing it — giving the impression they didn’t have to — the show treated this shooting like a random incident that could happen at any time which, while an argument could be made that this is the way of it (JFC America), it’s a wildly jarring way of approaching the subject. Which I think is why most of the audience, myself included, WTFed their way through the finale.


Foreshadowing is your friend, friend (and no Prairie’s premonitions don’t count).

I mean guys, you had it half set up anyway: Steve’s put in the “alternative learning” class for his douchebaggery, it would have taken absolutely NOTHING to include a disgruntled kid in a few of his scenes.

5. When the pupil is ready, the teacher will… throw a fit and try to kill you apparently

WHY. Why was this dude even in the show?? He’s literally only there so Hap can exposition about how jelly he is that his literal prisoners are being bros without him, followed by getting killed so that Hap’s then rattled and lonely enough (??!) to offer equal science-bro partnership to Prairie.

Like cool, I can think of 350967456 other ways we could do that without introducing a WHOLE NEW INTERESTING PLOT THREAD THAT’S TIED OFF WITHIN THREE SECONDS OF IT’S INTRODUCTION.


We’ve already established that Hap keeps video journals of his work. What’s to say he doesn’t wangst about feeling excluded there?

Hap in his office
“Dear diary, my literal captive prisoners are being MEAN TO ME”

This would also provide a fix for the whole awkward unreliable narration gaffe (aka: how the shit did Prairie know what happened at the morgue given Hap never tells her?) by allowing Prairie to somehow see these videos. Hell, kill two birds with one stone and have Hap bust her watching the videos only to offer her the partnership deal because he now thinks she’s sympathetic. Extra points if she flips him a double bird in response.

5. Aaaaand just a whole number of small things that ticked me off in no particular order

  1. Hap has a device that can hear peoples’ heartbeats not to mention the ability to record the soundscape of NDEs and yet he never thought to record what his subjects are discussing while in their cells
  2. If you’re gonna scar yourself with interpretive dance code perhaps do it somewhere on your body you can actually see without use of a reflective surface?
  3. Steve being a violent bag of dicks isn’t him being “sensitive” like fuck this whole abuse apologist narrative so hard
  4. Homer’s Super Virtuous Backstory about wanting to provide for his accidental son is dropped like a wet bag of flour the moment it’s no longer needed to establish him as a Good GuyTM
  5. Unless America is even weirder than I thought, there’s no way BBA could just hand the bootcamp goons her inheritance cheque. Estate cheques are made out to people or organisations ergo: that one’s made out to her. The only thing that might save this gaffe is if the goons didn’t know that and then covered their stupidity by just leaving Steve alone afterwards but STILL.
  6. Speaking of Steve, why is he just back at school chilling after this whole “escaping the definitely-illegal bootcamp clutches” thing? Is he back at home with his parents even? If not where the shit is he living? I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS
  7. How is hanging out in a house with a bunch of teenagers enough to land you with an ankle monitor?

*throws down red pen*


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