After watching Last Chance U: Season 2 I wanted to check out a new scripted series on Netflix. I had a few on my list but had recently seen people on twitter talking about how “crazy” the new show “Ozark” was. I thought I’d watch an episode and if it was interesting I’d add it to my list.
I ended up watching the entire season.
Let’s get right into it.
(By Netflix): ‘They Byrdes and their teenage kids, Charlotte and Jonah, are, for all intents and purposes, an ordinary family with ordinary lives. Except for the job of Marty, a Chicago financial advisor who also serves as the top money launderer for the second largest drug cartel in Mexico. When things go awry, Marty must uproot his family from the skyscrapers of Chicago and relocate to the lazy lake region of the Missouri Ozarks.”
Ozark is like Breaking Bad if the pace was tripled . . . and I think I’m being modest. There is not a single wasted episode in the series. Bad decisions have almost instantaneous consequences. As soon as you think you know where things are going you’re hit with another surprise. On top of this the performances by everyone in the cast are gripping. You’ll want to talk about this show with people. (That might be why I’m cranking out this review)
While a great or interesting story can sometimes make up for average/bad acting if you can get both right you will be looking at awards to go along with your longevity. Ozark has both.
Marty Byrde: (Played by Jason Bateman)
While I have a hard time taking Jason Bateman seriously because of the roles I’m used to seeing him in he does the goofy guy in serious situations well. It worked in “The Gift” and it works here. He’s not a hardened or sophisticated criminal in any way. He’s a father, a husband, and a wizard with finances who got too comfortable working for killers and is now in a race to keep himself and his family alive. He balances the family drama and the life and death drama with the calmness of someone whose mind is always working through solutions. He is great on his toes but not once did I think “how did he think of that out of nowhere??” His conclusions are logical, you can feel him working through things without having to see it acted out (I have no idea if that makes sense.) The thing I like most about his character is that despite his great mind he still makes mistakes and it is the people around him that sometimes step in to bail him out (in several instances without him even realizing it.) You have the feeling that his lucky streak will come to an end at any moment and despite several twists and turns I still feel it after the season has come to an end.
Ruth Langmore: (Played by Julia Garner)
Julia does not have any serious awards or nominations at this point but she may get one for her performance in this series. The 23 year old actress plays a sophisticated redneck criminal who is both psychotic and loving at the same time. You get the feeling she wears a tough exterior as a survival tactic since she’s the only girl in the family (that we see) but she is also intelligent and calculating. Throughout the series I don’t know whether to love her or hate her as she dances back and forth between plotting with and plotting against Marty. By the end of the first season I can’t say for sure where she stands and it will be fun to watch it play out.
Pastor: Mason Young (Played by Michael Mosley)
Having previously only seen Mosley in an extended role in the USA comedy “Sirens” (which I loved and wish hadn’t been cancelled) he was almost unrecognizable as the pastor in Ozark. After watching him for several episodes without being compelled to look it up I decided in my head that he must have a brother or just look like this actor but as I sat down to do this review I confirmed it was him. It’s a fun character but an intense one as well. I feel like he’s not going away any time soon.
As I mentioned the show is non-stop drama. The beauty is that it’s not all centered around the money laundering but also focuses on the familial aspect. The kids themselves have individual situations they’re navigating, the side characters are navigating their own situations and Marty is dealing with family problems on top of trying to stay alive. It creates a great balance that allows you to care about everything that is going on without leaving you overwhelmed by any of it. While overdoing it in the first season can doom shows I don’t feel that will be the case here. Characters come and go swiftly and it’s easy to see there being a continual flow of new players entering the mix.
I really don’t want to say too much because I feel like I’m drifting into spoiler territory with every sentence but I am really excited about the future of this show. It came out of nowhere but that really is the beauty of Netflix. The show combines the best elements of Breaking Bad and Fargo and will no doubt be the family/crime drama to fill the void left by Bloodline.
If you were on the fence about it go check it out now. I’m rating this show a “Maaaaan this show is awesome” on the Bib Scale.* If you hate it, feel free to tell me about myself on your preferred social media platform. Also, if I have not convinced you, the teaser is below.
In the meantime, thanks for the read!