The last few years have marked a major surge in genre shows. Superhero adaptations have all but overtaken the programming slate, and series like Westworld and Stranger Things fast became the standouts of their respective seasons. Just this morning, both projects scored nominations in several major categories at the Golden Globes, beating out drama-oriented contenders like The Americans, Empire, and House of Cards.
Netflix, in particular, seems to be paying special attention to sci-fi’s hot streak. In 2015, it dove into the Marvel universe with Daredevil, and has followed with Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. Sense8, too, is finally on the fast track to a return. After a lengthy hiatus, The Wachowski-helmed fan favorite was confirmed for an impending Christmas special, plus a May premiere date for its second season.
Now, Netflix is adding yet another sci-fi title to its burgeoning roster. On Monday, the company surprise released a trailer for a new series called The OA. It’s slated for debut on Dec. 16, though concrete details around its premise remain murky. What’s known so far is that Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij (The East) co-wrote and created the project. Marling stars as Prairie Johnson, a woman who inexplicably reappears after going missing seven years ago. Now in her 20s, the previously blind Johnson returns home with her sight restored. Many think it’s a miracle; others worry there’s something more dangerous at work. Also appearing are Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter), Scott Wilson (The Walking Dead), and Emory Cohen (Brooklyn).
Have you seen the light?— Netflix US (@netflix) December 12, 2016
This time around, Netflix skipped any regular promo, instead opting for an ultra-mysterious lead-up. The unprecedented announcement began with a series of foreboding questions on the company’s official Twitter. “Have you seen death? Have you seen darkness? Have you seen the light?” the tweets read. Then came a pair of grainy videos featuring Johnson jumping off a bridge—seemingly to her death. But seconds later, in the full trailer, we see her being questioned about her “disappearance.” Johnson insists she “didn’t disappear,” but “was present for all of it.” It assumedly deals with something supernatural—or more likely extraterrestrial, given the foreign markings seen on Johnson’s back—but beyond that it’s anyone’s guess.
The OA’s release may be a shock for viewers, but it’s certainly perfectly timed. After Westworld’s buzzy season wrapped earlier this month, sci-fi fans will be looking for a new fix, and the series’ secretive reveal leaves little time to judge whether or not it’s worth a watch. Marling and Batmanglij aren’t the most established showrunners, but The East (2013) raked in strong critical reviews, proving they’ve got a knack for captivating storytelling. The trailer looks enticing, so hopefully The OA will live up to its self-crafted hype.
The eight-episode first season of The OA, which was entirely directed by Batmanglij, will be available to stream on Friday.