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Netflix's mysterious series The OA is about philosophy, feelings and time travel

It’s streaming right now


After dropping a trailer earlier this week and announcing that its new show, The OA, would premiere on Dec. 16, we finally know what the Netflix series is about.

[Warning: Stop reading if you don't want to know anything before you start watching.]

The OA the story of Prairie Johnson, a woman who has returned home after vanishing for seven years. She’s gone through an incredible ordeal, but she’ll only talk to a group of teenagers and one high school teacher about what she went through. At the same time, her adoptive parents are trying to reconnect with her after spending the majority of the last decade desperately searching for her.

Prairie, however, doesn’t want to confide in them. Instead, she spends her time talking to these teenage boys about her time traveling experience, leading the group to question everything about her story. The show focuses on tales about near-death experiences and the mysticism surrounding them, but the hook is whether or not Prairie’s story is true. Did the events that she claim happen really happen, or is it a stretch on her part?

As the eight-episode series progresses, Prairie’s story’s accuracy is questioned again and again. It gets more difficult to tell just how much of what she says actually happened versus how much is a metaphor. There are details that seem legitimate and others that scream of absurdity, but the aspect of Prairie’s story that’s reiterated throughout is the trauma that she suffered because of the events she went through.

When series creators Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij came up with the idea for the project — one they spent three years working on, according to Variety — they wanted to focus on the idea of trust and honesty. Through the reaction the teenage boys have to Prairie’s story, the audience gets to try and figure out if she’s lying.

“We’ve always maintained the idea that our interpretations of them doesn’t matter as much as the audience’s,” Marling told Variety. “There’s no right or wrong answer, it’s just what you feel, which is kind of what being alive is like.

“If you’re going to have faith in something, you have to have it in the face of incredible doubt. Nobody can take your doubt away.”

All eight episodes of The OA are available to stream on Netflix right now.