You wouldn’t be necessarily wrong to say that Ozark is hitting similar ground to a show like Breaking Bad. Replace meth with accounting and you can imagine where Ozark is heading in its 10 episode first season. There’s nothing wrong with that though, especially if you’ve been searching for the next show to dive in after your adventures with Walter White. Here, Jason Bateman stars as Marty Byrde, a financial advisor in Chicago who happens to be laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel. His family; wife Wendy (Laura Linney), and teenage children Jonah (Skylar Gaertner) and Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz), are generally oblivious to what’s going on with Marty and his work. The kids have no idea, and Wendy tends to turn a blind eye, but their lives are thrust into danger when it’s discovered that someone taking part in the money laundering is skimming cash. With little left keeping him from becoming the next victim, Marty convinces Del (Esai Morales), the ringleader of their operation, that there’s plenty of opportunities to clean cash in a region of the Missouri Ozarks.
Marty promises that he can clean hundreds of millions of dollars within 5 years, and Del tasks him with proving it by re-laundering 8 million first. Marty packs up the family, who are clearly not happy with what’s happening, and sets out to prove something that he isn’t even sure will work. Once they arrive, Marty soon finds out that there’s plenty of smart criminals in the region already, forcing him to not only deal with the ticking clock on his promise, but with the already powerful criminal element in the Ozarks.
As seems to be the growing trend with a number of the recently released Netflix shows, the joy in Ozark isn’t generally found with Marty and his family. Once again, the lead characters tend to be the least interesting, especially when we’re introduced to the superb Julia Garner as up and coming teenage criminal genius Ruth. While Bateman, Linney, Gaertner and Hublitz tend to stick to the one note we find them introduced on, Garner gets to be slick, sneaky, sweet, and downright terrifying at times. Her story of life with her criminal family and her scheming to get her hands on Marty’s money provide a lot more entertainment than any other section of the series.
Bateman and Linney certainly perform well, and it’s always a blast to watch Bateman deadpan his way through some serious situations, but their characters just aren’t that interesting. The same situation that Marty and family find themselves in the beginning is basically the same situation they’ll find themselves in over and over again. The only real differences are who they’re trying to outmanoeuvre at any given moment. It’s entertaining to watch, but repetitive and hardly surprising. Subplots and side characters are far more fun to watch, and the series benefits from their stories greatly.
That doesn’t mean that Ozark isn’t worth watching. It’s very dark and depressing, but does manage to find a few seconds here and there to give viewers a dry chuckle. Netflix has been the place to find a growing list of very dreary crime thrillers, and this is another addition to that lineup. Some may think that the genre is tired, but fans will applaud the fact that they have yet another series to be drawn into. The series manages to surprise here and there, although nothing massive, and by the end, you’ll certainly be looking forward to some more.
Is Ozark Essential Viewing?
It may be another dark crime drama, but if that’s something you enjoy, you won’t want to miss out on this one.
Ozark is available for streaming Friday, July 21, 2017 on Netflix. Check their website for more information.