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#SaveTheOA campaigners urge Netflix to renew the series
#SaveTheOA protestors Justine Ungaro and Emperial Young outside Netflix HQVia Twitter @emverse

Flash mobs & hunger strikes: how The OA fans are fighting to save the show

Following Netflix’s cancellation of the popular sci-fi series, organisers and campaigners talk about their tenacious campaign to #SaveTheOA

Whatever continent you’re living on, it can feel like the world is  falling apart around us, but sometimes, a TV show can act as a life raft. One such show is acclaimed sci-fi series The OA – a story of alternate realities and the many layers of humanity, that galvanised a huge, passionate fandom. Ever since Netflix announced its decision to cancel  the series earlier this month, fans have been coming out in force to urge the streaming platform to rethink. From hashtags on social media – #RenewTheOA, #SaveTheOA, #TheOAisReal – to flash mobs and even hunger strikes, viewers refuse to let the show go down without a fight.

Initially launched in 2017 – as a surprise Netflix releaseThe OA was a mysterious, genre-bending series that ran for two of its intended five seasons. The brainchild of Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij, the supernatural show sees a previously blind Prairie (Marling) return to her parents after being missing for seven years, perplexingly having recovered her sight. After assembling a crew of friendless school kids, Prairie tells her mystifying story – from near death experiences to the discovery of other dimensions.

Praised not only for its eccentric storyline and unconventional structure, fans of The OA often feel an extreme connection to the show. Intended for outsiders, Marling previously told Dazed: “We were always interested in the idea of looking at characters who are on the fringes and don’t feel they have a place.” It’s unsurprising, then, that the series would mean a lot to people who otherwise feel underrepresented in the media.

The OA literally changed my whole life,” 17-year-old #SaveTheOA campaigner Óscar Fernández tells Dazed. “I was so lost, but when I watched the first episode I suddenly felt like I retrieved everything that once belonged to me; it helped me have faith in my future.”

Living in Spain, Fernández’s protesting lives online, where fans have built intimate communities. Now though, the fight is spilling out into the streets. Here, Dazed speaks to organisers and campaigners to explore the wide-ranging  action taken to try and #SaveTheOA.


On the day the show was cancelled, August 5,  a petition was set up with the intention of “requesting for Netflix to renew it for at least a third season”. At the time of writing, the petition has almost 80k signatures, with a goal of 150k. The description urges fans to cancel their Netflix subscription and put pressure on the streaming platform to renew The OA via customer feedback and hashtagging.

The majority of campaigning lives on social media, as well as dedicated websites like Watch The OA, which acts as “a hub where fans can help to organise for the renewal” of the show, as well as urging newcomers to watch. 30-year-old Many Paris, who runs the site, lives in Iowa so regards online protesting as her only method of having her voice heard. “I keep our calendar updated and try to disseminate information to as many OA fans as possible,” she explains. “I can do a lot from my computer!”

The#SaveTheOA campaign mirrors the show itself,bringing together fringe communities – this time, it’s on the internet, rather than reaching across different dimensions. “Even if (the show doesn’t get renewed), we’ll be proud of what we did,” Fernández muses. “We’re achieving something more than just bringing back a show – we’re a collective merging together to work as one. It’s a beautiful movement, and we have faith in it.”


On August 21, 15 people picketed for three hours outside Netflix’s offices in Hollywood. Initially started as a solo protest by 35-year-old Emperial Young, more people joined, bringing homemade signs and flower arrangements that spelled out ‘OA’. The picket was  livestreamed for those unable to attend. Video footage from the protest also shows fans doing ‘The Movements’ from the series (five movements that enable the characters to travel between worlds)The OA’s Brandon Perea – who plays Alfonso ‘French’ Sosa on the show – even made an appearance, writing on Twitter: “Ran into this GEM of a human (referencing Emperial Young) while driving down Sunset! The support for #SaveTheOA is REAL! THANK YOU!”


Probably the most extreme action from the #SaveTheOA campaign is Young’s ongoing hunger strike. “Knowing how important The OA is to so many people, I decided to take a drastic step to ensure this would not be a campaign that’s easily forgotten,” Young tells Dazed.

Young outlined her protest ‘manifesto’, linking her hunger strike to the fight against capitalism. “There are two components to the capitalism angle,” she says. “Firstly, my personal experience of a system that makes it so hard to navigate that sometimes a television show is the best support you have available. Secondly, the fact that The OA is at the mercy of capitalist forces – because it failed to generate what Netflix considered sufficient, it was cancelled.”

Young reportedly repeated this motive to Marling and Batmanglij when they appeared at the protest outside outside Netflix HQ. Writing on Instagram, Marling said of the #SaveTheOA campaign: “We’re humbled, to be honest floored, by the outpouring of support for The OA. Your words and images move us deeply.”

Young began hunger striking on August 19, but tells Dazed she has eaten minimally since then, explaining: “I did skip one day and had a single meal this past weekend (August 24 and 25), so today is day six plus two. The number of my sign reflects the total number of days I haven’t eaten since I began.” After her strike received significant media attention, Young posted on Twitter to discourage others from taking similar action, writing: “Hunger strikes should not be undertaken frivolously. While I support individual autonomy and the right to choose for yourself, please examine your motive thoroughly.”


On Monday (August 26), a video billboard appeared in New York’s Times Square featuring imagery from the show, alongside the #SaveTheOA hashtag and text that reads: “we will not give up on you”. A GoFundMe page funded the billboard, started by 17-year-old Ryan Lulofs. The fundraiser hit its $3,500 (£2,868) target in six hours, eventually reaching $5,520 (£4,523) just a day and a half later. 

“When I heard The OA was cancelled, I immediately thought about how fans of The Expanse saved the show by flying a plane banner around Amazon HQ (the show was cancelled by American channel Syfy in May 2018, and picked up by Amazon two weeks later),” Lulofs tells Dazed. “I thought that was a good idea, but wanted to do something a little more creative and different. The artists who made it spent dozens of hours over ten days, and put everything they had into it. I think it’s perfect, and I’m so glad their amazing work paid off.”

When asked why he’s so determined to save the show, he explains: “What Brit and Zal are saying in The OA may not be perfect, but the way they say it is. I’m addicted to that feeling, I’m addicted to the characters, and I need to find out where they go next. It’s a story about overcoming what life throws at you, and using your traumas to better yourself. Many, including me, connect with that and don’t want to see it go.”


In perhaps the most idiosyncratic method so far in urging Netflix to renew The OA, fans are taking to the streets to clean up parks and highways as part of a green initiative, dubbed #GreenOA. Fundraising for anti-human trafficking organisation A21, campaigners can be seen picking up rubbish in photos posted to Twitter, in the name of ‘cleaning this dimension’. The OA star Ian Alexander, who portrays Buck Vu on the show, even tweeted his support: “this is beautiful!!! i hope #GreenOA is just as big of a movement as #SaveTheOA.”


Following the billboard appearance, campaigners led two flash mob performances – the first outside Netflix’s New York office, and the second in Times Square. Organised via a Facebook event, the flash mob was led by dancer Jess Grippo and imitated ‘The Movements’ from The OA. Continuing what has been a largely peaceful campaign, the event urges participants to “obey NYC protesting rules and do not use amplified sound or block the streets”. 

Footage from the event shows around a dozen people dancing near the billboard, soundtracked by music from The OA. An unusual sight, the group understandably drew a crowd of onlookers who filmed them.

The campaigners believe that, as well as sending a clear message to Netflix, they’re promoting the show. “Netflix’s strategy has been really poor over the last few years,” Fernández explains. “It’s unfair for them to complain about audience figures when they didn’t promote the show properly and treat it as some kind of cult.” Paris believes the #SaveTheOA movement can act as a form of advertising for Netflix, which will attract more viewers if the platform was to renew the series. “If they don’t want to market their shows,” she asserts, “let us!” Although, fan theories have also emerged questioning whether the show’s cancellation is actually a marketing ploy by Netflix.