To be certain, I am a fan of the works of Batmanglij and Marling. “The Sound of My Voice” is a favorite movie. The OA caught my attention a few years ago.
The first season of “The OA” was a powerhouse if a bit incoherent. I liked it. The second season has a little less punch but it’s far more coherent. That is likely a trade-off, and I will admit that I am uncertain which I like better.
But the coherence is necessary if the show is to have subsequent seasons. That fact looks clearly like a lesson from “The Sound of My Voice.” SOMV ended in a way that made a sequel difficult, as did one of my other favorites from that period: “The Master.” (I miss Philip Seymour Hoffman.)
The same could be said of OA season 1. OAS1, however, did have enough hooks in the story to make OAS2 possible.
For me, the series is a rich source of writing prompts. But…
…OAS1 and OAS2 do suffer from a serious problem: “don’t try this at home.” Some people might interpret the show in a way that they are inspired to take risks that can bring harm to themselves or others. Again, “don’t try this at home.”
Don’t jump up and start dancing and wiggling your fingers if you see a school shooter coming.
OAS2 suffers from another flaw that only some people will catch but that bothers me deeply: some aspects of the mental health settings are out of the 1950’s and others are just wrong or inconsistent.
In the Joe Biden (San Francisco) timeline, is Hap an MD psychiatrist or PhD psychologist? He sounds like one at times, an MD especially in OAS1 in the morgue scene, yet acts much like a PhD in other parts. Ditto for Homer in OAS2, especially when he says he decided to go into “clinical psychology” (PhD).
Some might think I am splitting hairs, but the training and mindsets that emerge from that training can make a huge difference in how the characters would act and what their character arc would be. The problem is even deeper. While in theory anyone can enter either program with the right grades and test scores, in reality MDs are typically chemistry majors or biology majors and those are quite different tribes from the tribe of psychology majors who aim for PhD in Clinical Psyc.
Confusing the two is like confusing bicycles and canoes. Both are vehicles, and neither are quite like sports cars or jet boats (seasoned professionals in the respective fields).
Some of the mental health is out of the 1950s, 1970s at best. For a movie MUCH closer to how modern mental health operates, watch The Dream Team with Michael Keaton et al. As an aside, Keaton’s Clean and Sober was brilliant both in general and in terms of its portrayal of treatment and early recovery from addiction.
“Managed Care” destroyed “field trips” for the most part, except maybe outside AA meetings sometimes, and much of mental health has been affected (unfavorably) by “managed care,” but I have a “shout out” to the idiots in Hollyweird in general: GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. MAKE A BOLD LEAP INTO THE ’90’s. At least rise to the level of “Clean and Sober” and “Dream Team.” (Now that I think about it, “Michael Clayton” also gets it right.)
Locked units don’t have unattended supply closet doors unlocked. That is a firing offense, and the staff know it. The staff don’t let people go to the back just because someone shows up and claims to be a detective. Patient ID numbers and other essential security are required, otherwise staff members repeat “I can neither confirm nor deny” and ask the person to leave. The “detective” threatening staff with “calling the police” doesn’t happen, in fact it is the other way around, especially if he doesn’t leave immediately after the request for the security info.
And staff never chase a non-patient who is leaving. They call 911, and the police do that. If SOA2 wanted to get this right, they would have Alfonso (in the Joe Biden timeline) and some of his FBI co-workers show up and “take over” once the police apprehended the pair. That would have been a little more believable, and some interesting plot twists could have been spun out of it.
Want to make Hap more interesting in the Biden (San Francisco) timeline? Give him a corrupt local police Sergeant who does some of his dirty work, and make Alfonso (in the Biden timeline) of the FBI at cross purposes. No need to make this police procedural, but it is a side plot that can remedy some of the problems and also lays the groundwork for a spin-off.
Frankly, the list of mistakes is too long to put in a blog entry, and this entry is already in “tl;dr” territory.
The show still excels beyond most of what is currently available despite these errors (which irritate the hell out of me). I love the near death experiences and strange dance like rituals and hints of walk-ins and starseeds. Just don’t screw up the mental health stuff.
Consider an old passage from TV Guide when it was still on paper in the 1990’s regarding the X-Files: we can accept two headed space aliens on the X-Files but revolt when someone tries to convince us that Muldur and Sculley can make it from Baltimore to Northern Virginia, across DC, in ninety minutes.