Stranger Things captivated new fans this summer largely through the element of surprise. Nobody knew what to expect, which made the science fiction series all the more captivating. The streaming service is trying a similar thing with the equally mysteries new series The OA. Plus, the audience will notice right away that The OA and Stranger Things have a lot in common. There are minor spoilers for The OA ahead — if you are enjoying the mystery, don't read ahead.
First of all, The OA is not a sequel or a prequel to the Duffer Brothers universe. This isn't some big Netflix expanded universe or conspiracy. The two shows aren't connected in any official way. Prairie is not Eleven grown up, even if they are both experimented on in their respective shows. Barb isn't just having an NDE. Though we do later learn more about his research, I don't want to know what Jason Isaacs' character would do with government resources like we see on Stranger Things. No, the two shows only have similar themes, similar feels, and similar airs of mystery.
Heck, Episode 5 has a maze similar to Westworld and the finale references The Iliad. That said, due to the platform and the secretive nature of this original series, it's the comparisons to Stranger Things that stand out. Even though they aren't related to one another, The OA should keep Stranger Things fans engaged and guessing while we wait for Season 2.
Little Girls With Nosebleeds Calling For "Papa"
That's the biggest thing that'll give Stranger Things fans reason to double take at The OA. In the first Nina flashback, she wakes up from a prophetic dream with a bloody nose and calls for her Papa, just like Eleven.
Prairie talks about other dimensions, which the residents of Hawkins know all too much about. The dimension that Prairie goes to is much better lit than the Upside Down, though.
Four Misfit Boys (And One Teacher)
The group that Prairie tells her story to, in true campfire fashion, is not unlike the kids in Stranger Things who start to find the cracks in their world.
Suburbs & Bikes
Both Stranger Things and The OA bring the supernatural to an unlikely place — American suburbia, where you can go travel by bike in the middle of the street. The cul-de-sacs in The OA are a bit more bleak than the charming '80s town in Stranger Things, I'm afraid.
An '80s/'90s Aesthetic
The flashbacks to Prairie, or Nina's upbringing have an old school, Labyrinth fairy tale feel. She's an orphan, drifting from one tragedy to another. The way that French, Jesse, Stephen, Buck, and their teacher react to her tale has a very Princess Bride vibe as well. It references storytelling tropes the same way that Stranger Things references all of your vintage favorites.
Images: JoJo Whilden/Netflix; Giphy (5)