Netflix made a surprise announcement earlier this week when it dropped the trailer for The OA. The latest original show that not only intrigues but reminds me of another hit show, Stranger Things, with its promise of otherworldly fascination, medical miracles and the very curious case of a young woman who has returned home after she went missing for years.
The OA comes courtesy of Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij, who have previously put their creative partnership into films The East and Sound of My Voice. It would appear The OA is capitalizing on the semi-supernatural qualities of Sound of My Voice, a film focused on a man trying to debunk a young woman’s claim she is a time traveler. The OA picks up that thread and explores the tangled web at the heart of protagonist Prairie Johnson’s disappearance.
The OA trailer appeared unexpectedly and instantly had tongues wagging about the parallels between it and Stranger Things. There’s plenty here to connect the dots to the two Netflix original series’, even if they aren’t connected. Those connections not only build up fascination around The OA, but make it one of the most exciting must-see releases of the year.
How does The OA compare to Stranger Things? Here are some of the most noticeable similarities.
1. The lead character is similar to Eleven
The focus of The OA is Prairie Johnson, who has seemingly been found years after she went missing as a young girl. In the trailer, we see Prairie stumbling through the woods; at another point, she is being strapped into an unusual device. These key moments specifically recall Stranger Things‘ Eleven and what happened to her before she arrived in Hawkins, Indiana.
2. There is a mystery at the center of The OA
Prairie’s friends and family have zero idea what happened to her during the years the she was missing. Was she abducted? Did she run away? Prairie says that she wasn’t taken, implying the she left of her own free will, so why did she do it? Going missing is one thing Prairie shares with Will and Barb from Stranger Things.
3. It takes place in suburbia
Just like Stranger Things, it looks like the mystery of Prairie Johnson will unfold in the suburbs. The suburbs often amplify the strangeness of certain occurrences, and Prairie’s circumstances are no different. Is the neighborhood due for a shake-up now that she’s returned home?
4. There’s an ominous research institute
Another link to Eleven and her origins is this cold, clinical look at the facility where Prairie ostensibly spent time while she was missing. Whatever study or project she is the subject of, it certainly looks ominous.
5. The OA involves a connection to another world
In the trailer, Prairie appears to be in a dream world or otherworldly landscape and looking skyward. Did she travel through space and time to get to this place? Stranger Things had the Upside Down; The OA has Prairie’s place of mystery.
6. There are cryptic markings on main character Prairie Johnson
Eleven had incredible supernatural powers; Prairie seems to have some very cryptic, mysterious markings. They look old and healed, implying she got them when she was missing. Did they come from the experiments she was a part of?
7. Prairie may get help from male friends on The OA
Twice during the trailer, Prairie is seen with two young men. Are they her friends? She seems to be very comfortable around them the respective times she is shown with them, indicating that she has a close relationship with them. These relationships are just like the ones Eleven shares with Dustin, Mike and Lucas.
8. Who’s the guy in the glasses that seems to be interested in Prairie?
Just like the foreboding Dr. Brenner who is in control of the experiments being done on Eleven, it would appear that Prairie’s primary connection to the lab where she is experimented on is through a mysterious bespectacled man. We first see him sitting in a bar and looking at something intently, and then we see him strapping Prairie into a hefty machine. Is he tracking her down after she possibly escaped just like Brenner did with Eleven?
9. The OA could span decades
The OA and Stranger Things appear to share one big thing in common: They go back in time. Stranger Things stayed planted firmly in the mid-’80s with all the decorative trappings of the decade present. It looks like The OA will go back to the late ’80s and ’90s to focus on Prairie’s childhood. As the family gets their portrait taken, Prairie looks very unhappy — a sure sign that something bigger is going on underneath the surface.