These days it seems like Netflix is promoting or premiering a new series almost every day. That constant onslaught of new material means that it’s possible to miss some of Netflix’s offerings no matter how diligently you’re paying attention. If that’s what happened to you with the streaming service’s new crime series Ozark, then you’ve been missing out on a subversive, exhilarating series that will never fail to surprise. The series follows the Byrde family as they relocate to Missouri’s favorite tourist trap, the Lake of the Ozarks. The catch is that dad Marty Byrde is trying to wash eight million bucks for a Mexican cartel. The cartel, in turn, is run by a genuinely frightening man who is about a hair’s breath away from wiping out Marty, his wife Wendy, and their two kids. As the Byrdes set up shop in the Ozarks, things begin to spiral out of control in some truly shocking ways. If you’re not waiting intently for season 2 of Ozark, then you’re missing out on one of the most engrossing shows on television. Here’s why.
1. Jason Bateman Is Fierce
We all loved Jason Bateman as Arrested Development’s self-obsessed lead character, but pigeon-holing the actor into the role of flustered comedy straight man is a disservice to his talent. Thankfully, Ozark makes great use of Bateman’s range. Sure, there are moments where Bateman plays his insane predicament for laughs, but the lead character in Ozark is also allowed some moments of surprising pathos running the gamut from abject remorse to flat-out rage. Bateman is a revelation in the role and he alone makes the series worth watching.
2. It’s Written By the Writer of Ben Affleck’s Best Action Movie
Show creator Bill Dubuque has based the series off his time working for a small hotel and marina in the Lake of the Ozarks. If you’re looking for proof of Dubuque’s talent, just check out the smart action thriller The Accountant, a movie so well written even Ben Affleck was watchable. Dubuque lends Ozark the same info-stuffed dialogue and snappy back-and-forth that made The Accountant a cut above traditional action flicks.
3. It’s Way Funnier Than You Think It Is
If you judge Ozark from its slow and somber trailer, you might be convinced that the series is too self-serious for its own good. In fact, Ozark is filled with darkly humorous moments that will catch you by surprise. In addition to some creative plays on the “city slicker in the woods” set up, there are some devilish moments of schadenfreude that might make you question your own sense of morality even as you giggle remorselessly.
4. Laura Linney Makes Vindictive Behavior Fun to Watch
Seriously, cast Laura Linney in pretty much anything and you can bet the final result will be markedly better for her involvement. It’s been the case with too many shows and films to name, and Ozark is no different. Linney is a hurricane in the crime series, imbuing her vindictive housewife turned realtor with electricity.
5. No, You Really Don’t Have a Clue What Is Coming Next
You think you’ve seen this story before. City guy moves to the woods with his family for whatever reason and finds something transformative about the setting or the people or yada yada yada. Ozark is not that story. Without wanting to spoil things, the series starts out shocking and continues plunging into unexpected from there. If you want a story that will continue to surprise you, start binging Ozark now.
6. It’s Talky in the Best Way Possible
Too many serious dramatic shows these days rely on long expanses of meditative silence. Ozark is a refreshing change from this silence. It seems every character is a chatterbox who has a way with words. Verbose without being artificial, Ozark’s characters are always willing to sit and wag their jaw. Even better, they’re so sharply written that you want them to keep gabbing.
7. ‘Ozark’ Isn’t Afraid to Use Its Brain
Another strand of DNA that Ozark shares with The Accountant is Dubuque’s fearless use of his noggin. You can tell the writers have done their homework and they’re not afraid to use insider lingo without laboriously defining everything. The show constructs complex, interwoven plots without going into needless detail explaining them to slower viewers. The show is legitimately intelligent and it requires the same thing of its viewers, a rare trait on today’s TV landscape.
8. ‘Breaking Bad’ Fans Might Have a New Addiction
In TV land, when you see a family man doing desperate things to get out of dire straits, the obvious connection to draw is Breaking Bad. True, Ozark shares some of the tone of Vince Gilligan’s masterful drama, but the Netflix series is a different animal entirely. Byrde is a good-hearted schemer. His wife, Wendy, is an active participant in the proceedings. The whole family knows the score. There are myriad details, technical flourishes, and narrative twists that make Ozark something really unique.
9. Rednecks Are People, Too
All too often, the trend in Hollywood is to treat the citizens of New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago as the only people with intelligence or depth. Ozark, meanwhile, takes great pains to turn every member of its supporting cast — a great number of whom are just flat-out hillbillies — into living, breathing human beings. The show soars as a result.
10. Feel the Slow Burn
Though there is the occasional moment of shocking violence, the joy of watching Ozark is in watching the simmering tensions infect every corner of the series until they explode in some startling way. The dialogue is fascinating, the cast is on point, and the story is moment-to-moment dynamite. If you’ve overlooked Ozark, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
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