Ozark, Netflix’s latest original Drama/Thriller series starring Jason Bateman is tense, exciting, clever, and fresh.
Ozark follows the Byrde Family as they run from Chicago to the Ozarks to do some bidding for a massive Mexican drug cartel. Marty (Bateman) was a normal Chicago based financial advisor. He and his wife, Wendy (Laura Linney), were having a hard time making ends. When Del (Esai Morales) darkens the doorstep of the financial agency Marty works for. After years of prosper washing the mob’s money a bad deal catches up with the firm and Marty’s life is upended.
The first shock to this series is Bateman isn’t doing comedy. Best known for his turn as Michael Bluth in the cult-classic, fan favorite, infinitely rewatchable series Arrested Development. Bateman is also an amazing actor. Ozark may be the best showcase on his impressive resume to really show his acting chops beyond comedy. He does get in some really solid snark and his monologues are Glengarry Glen Ross level good.
The portrayal of the Byrde family is perfect as the series begins with them as picture perfect and quickly peels back layer after layer of a barely held on facade. Laura Linney really elevates every project she’s in. She’s an actress that never seems to fully get her due. Linney is also given her own story a few episodes in and her character is refreshingly fleshed out.
In addition to Wendy being a fully formed character it’s also nice that the older of the Byrde kids was given a lot to do. Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) has a storyline of her own. It starts typical teen and gets worrisome like Jack Bauer’s daughter encountering a bobcat, but soon it all makes sense and comes together. Hublitz is also a fine actress without much of a resume but will likely keep getting work if she keeps up this level of quality.
The show is a little weaker on the younger of the Byrde family, Jonah (Skylar Gaertner). Sure he’s there. He interacts, he even gets a bit to do. But it’s more plot device than character development. It’s possible there was just too much going on for everyone to have a full blown story, but there it is.
The opening monologue is pure genius and will have you hooked in the first three minutes. The show is tense from the very start to the end. Bateman’s Marty is slippery and a pro-level bullshitter in every scene. Even when he’s laying it on the line and opening it up his words come out in twists and turns as the next piece is being put into play and the table is being set for the next mark, con, wash, lie, job, etc.
There is a little to be wanted in the way the show is shot. Its drab. The scenes are dark and greenish all the time. It’s done intentionally to set the stage, set the environment, and set the mood. It just looks… not right. The video quality is sharp and all, its really just the exposure and coloring that makes it feel like your TV needs to be calibrated.
Ozark is another amazing Netflix Original truly worth your time. Seeing Bateman outside of a comedy is a nice treat but isn’t really a factor with the quality of writing in the series. Without giving a spoiler the season has an ending but also leaves the possibility for more. A couple small issues aside, more is definitely something you’ll want.