I should probably finish watching the whole season before I comment, but I thought this essay made some great points about how diverse casting can backfire. In this case, despite The OA’s multicultural (sorta) cast and crew, the underlying message is that POCs only serve to move the white protagonist’s story forward. This essay in particular evokes the “magical negro” trope which is a plot device in which a black character, oftentimes socially or physically constrained/impaired/disabled, magically appears, often with no back story, and helps the white character overcome obstacles. I’m not sure if that’s 100% relevant here, but I also haven’t finished watching all the episodes.
This is a surprising turn of events given that the show director and co-creator is Zal Batmanglij, an American film director and screenwriter of Iranian descent, you would think he’d be more sensitive to that as a POC himself. But one never knows how much Hollywood politics comes into play with these sorts of things, so we can’t really point fingers, blame, or accuse anyone of doing this intentionally. Also, Brit Marling is credited as a co-creator of the show, so it makes sense that she would want to play the lead. I’m still committed to finishing season 1 (eventually), so I’ll reserve my personal opinions until I’ve actually done that. Either way, as prefaced, I still think this essay is worth the read, catch it on io9.