It seems fair to say that The OA's loyal viewership hasn't taken news of its cancellation lying down. From the moment that Netflix announced that the head-scratching sci-fi drama was joining the likes of American Vandal, Lady Dynamite and Sense8 on their list of two-season wonders last month, fans have made it their mission to bring it back from the dead.
Within just 24 hours of being set up, a GoFundMe campaign raised over $5,000 for a digital billboard appeal in New York's Times Square. A small army of disgruntled obsessives have picketed outside Netflix offices in both the Big Apple and Los Angeles, recreating the cosmic five-step routine known as 'the movements' in the process. And more than 80,000 people have signed a Change.org petition demanding its return.
Then, worryingly, there's one person who has gone on hunger strike in protest of the show's treatment. "Entertainment is food for the human soul and Netflix's algorithm isn’t measuring that right now," the woman in question, Emperial Young, told Insider. "And by not taking physical food, I’m saying that this show is more important food to me than actual food," the 35-year-old added.
The OA star Brandon Perea, who portrays star lacrosse player Alfonso 'French' Sosa, even responded to this on Twitter after spotting her while driving down Sunset Boulevard.
But, is all what it seems?
In keeping with a show that often provides more questions than answers, there's a theory that the whole thing could just be one giant hoax. Indeed, within a few days of The OA going to that great big TV network in the sky, one particularly optimistic Reddit user began to speculate that its cancellation was all just a part of the show's elaborate mythology.
For those who haven't yet fully immersed themselves in the series' weird and wonderful world, then (spoiler alert), its second season ended with the titular character (Brit Marling) and her captor Hap (Jason Isaacs) heading to a new dimension. There they inhabited the bodies of fictional versions of the actors Brit Marling and Jason Isaacs, who just happened to be acting in a show also named The OA.
If that weren't meta enough already, fans also believe that the scene where Brit is knocked unconscious after hitting her head – and therefore potentially putting the show-within-a-show's future in jeopardy – could be a major clue that things might not be as they first seemed. In fact, there's also a theory that Jason Isaacs' Instagram posts about the cancellation are, in fact, written by the character of 'Jason Isaacs'.
The official statement from Netflix’s vice president of original content, Cindy Holland, about the show coming to an end could also be viewed as relatively cryptic. It reads, "We are incredibly proud of the 16 mesmerising chapters of The OA, and are grateful to Brit and Zal for sharing their audacious vision and for realising it through their incredible artistry. We look forward to working with them again in the future, in this and perhaps many other dimensions."
Could one of these dimensions possibly be referring to a third series? Or are we reaching?
If its creators are in on the whole charade, then they've certainly had us fooled. Brit Marling melted everyone's hearts with her response to the cancellation, writing on Instagram that she was "deeply sad not to finish this story," and that she had a "good cry" on hearing the news.
However, one of the show's most vocal supporters, protestor Rachael Root, isn't buying into the theory. She told Insider, "I feel like our movement has gone so far that I think someone would have come out and said, 'Oh my God, please stop spending money on this.' Like, 'We're just kidding!' And we'd realise this was a really horrible joke gone wrong."
Of course, whether The OA's cancellation is for real or not, Netflix have certainly benefited from all of the furore. Indeed, the streaming service has unarguably received more publicity for dropping the show than they ever would have done issuing a renewal.
And as a report published in The Information claims, "Netflix has learned that the first two seasons of a show are key to bringing in subscribers, but the third and later seasons don’t do much to retain or win new subscribers."
The OA's fans can take some solace, at least, in the fact that a handful of other shows deemed to have been cut short before their time have gone on to live another day. In June earlier this year, the reboot of classic sitcom One Day at a Time was picked up by CBS's Pop network for a fourth season just three months after its Netflix cancellation.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine got five seasons on its original home network but even so, the outcry over its dumping by Fox was so big that NBC picked up the cop sitcom within just 24 hours. Fan power has also driven extra seasons of Lucifer, Community and The Expanse, just to name a few. While Netflix also gave Sense8, a show similar in scope if not tone to The OA, a mammoth 150-minute send-off after its most ardent viewers campaigned against its abrupt cancellation.
You could argue that it was a miracle that something as bold, audacious and challenging as The OA was ever given two entire seasons in the first place. But you could also argue that by leaving the story in limbo, Netflix have ultimately betrayed their original leap of faith.
Whatever happens, it seems unlikely that The OA's fans will stop fighting for the cause.
The first two seasons of The OA are available to stream on Netflix worldwide.
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