Netflix announces that after a critically acclaimed second season, The OA would not be renewed for a season three, leaving its fans in the lurch of a major cliffhanger. The series had premiered back in December of 2016, and then followed up with its second season installment of eight episodes in March of 2019. While Netflix does not officially release viewership numbers, the series had received widespread critical as well as audience acclaim. Its most recent season continues to sit at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes from critics and 89% from the audience, and had been generally expected to receive a reprieve.
The sophomore season continued to build on the show's mythology and ended with a cliffhanger, but one that could also serve as the series endcap. The mystery thriller series was led by Brit Marling as a blind woman named Prairie Johnson. Johnson had disappeared without a trace years earlier ago only to return today, though now with her sight inexplicably restored. The first season revolves around Johnson's drawing a small group of outcasts around her as she slowly begins to tell her tale of who she was, and who she had become.
THR shared a statement from Netflix's head of originals, Cindy Holland, reiterating the streamer's confidence in the strengths of series creator Zal Batmanglij, as well as Marling, "We are incredibly proud of the 16 mesmerizing chapters of The OA, and are grateful to Brit and Zal for sharing their audacious vision and for realizing it through their incredible artistry." Holland continued, "We look forward to working with them again in the future, in this and perhaps many other dimensions."
The OA is only the latest instance of Netflix's recent culling of several of their ongoing series. Previously announced cancellations already include Travellers, Tuca and Bertie, Designated Survivor, She's Gotta Have It and Chambers. As Netflix looks to increase revenue, or at least to allay their customer's unsubscription rate, the company will be making use of something more akin to gaming's "fail fast" model. That means rather than most series having a near-default initial order of three seasons, an underperforming freshman may be cancelled without even a second season.
The downside of the cancellation is that the ending of The OA's series with the ending of season 2 is that for all of the fans who have been following the series are stuck with a cliffhanger ending, and not knowing what happens next will be frustrating to many. However in the particular way that the story does end is not dissimilar to the ending of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer's spin off series, Angel - with the heroes chasing off to the next big adventure.