Did Netflix Really Cancel ‘The OA’?

News that Netflix had cancelled its popular supernatural show The OA after airing only two of its five planned seasons aired broke on August 5 2019, causing #SaveTheOA and #RenewTheOA to trend on Twitter.

Not long after, fans of the show on Reddit became skeptical of the news, proposing an alternate theory — that the purported cancellation was a meta-plotline based on several elements of the intricately detailed show.

On the day of the cancellation news, The OA‘s creators shared statements to Instagram and Twitter:

Brit Marling — who also co-created the series with Zal Batmanglij — took to Instagram on [on August 5 2019] to commiserate with fans of The OA, which got the axe from Netflix earlier in the day after a two-season run. “Zal and I are deeply sad not to finish this story,” Marling wrote. “The first time I heard the news, I had a good cry. So did one of our executives at Netflix who has been with us since the early days when we were sketching out Hap’s basement on the floor of our production office in Queens. It’s been an intense journey who worked on and cared about this story.”

[WARNING: Spoilers begin now.]

Rumors about a meta-plotline involving supposed cancellation circulated quickly, thanks to the final moments of The OA season two taking place in a fourth- all-breaking “real life” timeline. On the same day the rumors began circulating, a thread appeared on Reddit’s r/TheOA claiming that the cancellation was a fake-out:

In that post, a Reddit user gathered all the information available at that early stage about the news:

The fact that this was announced today when the renewal movement was supposed to begin is clue #1. The fact that the inception of the renewal movement was started by Jason Isaacs is clue #2. Brit’s tweet about the last text from Grandma Vu is clue #3. The netflix VP’s quote about looking forward to working with Brit and Zal in this dimension and many others is clue #4.

We have now truly moved into the third season where the show was cancelled due to Brit (OA) being injured, and not being able to continue her role as OA. Due to the show being cancelled Happ has a way to help repress Nina and OA inside of Brit, by saying she just misses the character and acting on the show. Jason Isaacs (Happ) is pushing for the show to continue so that he seems like a caring husband, thus adding more doubt to Brit’s mind, the rest remains to be seen.

That post was followed by several others targeting individual “clues” purportedly indicating The OA had not really been canceled. On August 7 2019, a thread about all purported clues identified to date was shared to the forum:

The key elements of the theory are as follows:

  • That news of the cancellation came primarily from the show’s creators (not Netflix);
  • That Netflix only vaguely referenced cancellation and did not commit to saying The OA had necessarily been cancelled;
  • That Netflix metrics typically lead to cancellations one to two months after a season airs (not several months);
  • That actors in the show (particularly Brit Marling and Jason Issacs) shared strangely in character commentary on social media;
  • That images shared by those actors was suggestive of ongoing filming;
  • And finally, that the premise of the end of season two was the show moving into “this” dimension (along with elements of an augmented reality game or ARG “going real life.”)

Unconfirmed rumors seen on Reddit included claims that Marling deleted references to the cancellation ruse on her Instagram account, and that late actor Scott Wilson spoke of having filmed scenes for season three of The OA before his death in late 2018. Unrelated to the theories, fans of The OA began sending mustard to Netflix, in reference to a character saying that the condiment “fucked up” a sandwich in season one:

As of August 9 2019, no one at Netflix or from The OA‘s production team had commented on rumors that the cancellation was part of the show.