On August 5th, 2019 Netflix announced that The OA, a groundbreaking series, was canceled. Fans across the globe were heartbroken. Millions of us had watched the show and no real reason was given by Netflix about why they chose to cancel the only sci-fi show on television created by a woman (and a Muslim man of color).
This cancellation came despite the fact that Cindy Holland, VP of Original Programming at Netflix, had been quoted, only months before: “The OA is fantastic. From the very beginning, when Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij pitched us a five-season arc, we were really excited… I think the fans will be very happy.” We were happy. And so were the critics. Part II of The OA has a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics have called The OA a “masterpiece,” a testament to “radical sincerity” and “the most ambitious and thought-provoking show on television.”
But for many of us, The OA is more than a show. The OA is not only interdimensional, it is intersectional, international, and now, interactive. Because it values nuanced stories and lived experiences of diverse characters across races, genders, class lines, and sexualities, The OA has given us real meaning and real community. We have made friends across languages and borders, we have created art work and music and poetry, we have collaborated and witnessed each other struggle and thrive.
With the help of art, we have repaired relationships, mourned loved ones, overcome trauma, and shared wisdom. It has emboldened us to be kinder, better citizens of the world, to know that every single person is worth saving, no matter what the external world would have us believe. That’s what we mean, when we say “The OA is Real.”
On this website, we are collecting a testament to this story’s power. Through The OA, we realized we weren’t crazy, alone, broken. We realized that science and spirituality could co-exist. Most of all, we realized that hope is not naïve. We may be living in a dimension crumbling to violence and pettiness and greed, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be repaired if we all work together.
“No tree survives alone in the forest. When one tree falls ill, we all send food. For, if one tree dies, the canopy is broken. Then all suffer the weather and pestilence that flood in. You will not survive on your own.”
Netflix, you may defend yourself with an algorithm whose unconfirmable numbers you refuse to share. But what if you looked beyond the numbers? The story you programmed drew us to your platform in the first place, the story you nurtured has taught us something real about faith, about myth, about each other. We worry that the “numbers” will always reward easy narratives that reward singular, male journeys and categorize the world in binaries: good and evil, hero and villain, right and wrong, success and failure.
Watch the show. Explore this site. Observe how joyfully we do these movements, look at our art, read how this story changed us. And then join our tribe — there is room here for everyone. We welcome you.
We only ask you to consider one thing: what kind of world have we built with the old stories? And what kind of new stories do we need right now? And what is your responsibility (yes, you) in a world that desperately needs to work together, to listen to each other, to care for our planet and our most vulnerable? What can your algorithm say about all that?
To Brit and Zal, we love you. Your gift has empowered us and made us believe in impossible things. We will make you proud by carrying it within us. We will never lose faith. We are your boys. Your tribe. Your angels.