Here's Why 'The OA' Took So Long To Return — And When It Could Be Back For Season 3

Nicola Goode/Netflix

The OA is finally gearing up for a second season after making its debut way back in December 2016. Fans have been dying to know what happened to Prairie/OA after she was seriously injured during an active shooter situation at the local high school. Did she actually jump to another dimension? Were her friends able to do the same with their weird dance moves? Hopefully, most of these questions will be answered when the show comes back, but with a story this layered, it will likely raise a few new ones, too. So will The OA return for Season 3, or will we be left to wonder indefinitely?

Update: The OA has been canceled after two seasons, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Earlier: So far, Netflix hasn't announced any official plans for another season, but there's reason to believe it will be renewed. From the beginning, creators Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling have made clear they're telling a long, involved story. "We designed it that way," Batmanglij told Variety after Season 1, when asked if the show would continue. "Whether it will happen or not, I think that’s up to you guys. All of you in the world. If people connect to it. I would like to see this story continue… Brit and I figured out the whole thing. The whole thing's a riddle. There are a lot of clues."

And Cindy Holland, Netflix's Vice President of Original Series, confirmed in July that Batmanglij and Marling pitched the project with a five-season arc. "I think from the very beginning, when Brit [Marling] and Zal [Batmanglij] pitched us a five-season arc, we were really excited and sat at the edge of our seats when they started talking about Season 2. I've seen some early cuts [of the second season] and the fans will be very happy," she said during the 2018 Television Critics Association press tour, per Indiewire.

So if all goes according to plan, The OA will be around for quite some time — especially considering the lengthy gap between seasons. Season 1 debuted out of nowhere back in 2016 and is only now returning almost two and a half years later. Marling explained the delay on Instagram last October, writing that the series doesn't follow the traditional format for TV production, in which "the writers team writes 3-4 episodes and then another team begins shooting those those episodes while the writers continue writing." Because she's "both the lead actor and a lead writer," she said, they "can't leap-frog the production. We have to write all eight chapters up front before we can begin shooting the first chapter." She also noted that "each chapter [requires] completely different resources to achieve scripts of different lengths, casts, and ambitions."

Given how complex The OA's narrative is, it makes sense that it would take some time to put together and map out. As Marling wrote, many people saw Season 1 as an eight-hour film, and if you think of it in that context, "That's pretty fast considering most 2-hour films take at least 2 years to make!" However, that also means that even if they're able to release all five seasons, it will happen over many, many years. If Marling and Batmanglij follow the pace they've thus far set, we should get Season 3 in June 2021, Season 4 in September 2023, and a fifth, final season in December 2025. In total, the full scope of the show will have spanned almost a decade. So hopefully, they'll make it worth the wait.

This post was updated on August 5, 2019.