TV Review: Ozark

Character appears with an 'O' as a target on his face

It’s been [unjustly] hailed as a ‘dark drama that wants to be Breaking Bad’ that isn’t ‘quite up to par‘. I am talking about the Netflix Original series everyone should be talking about: Ozark. The series follows Marty Byrde as he attempts to launder money for Mexico’s second-largest drug cartel. As you might expect, this mammoth task doesn’t come without its obstacles, which include inflated egos, proud hillbillies, scheming FBI agents and many more.

Mother, father, son and daughter pose happily for a camera unconvincingly

The Byrde family put on a wholesome facade

Plot

After financial planner Marty Byrde’s money laundering scheme fails, the Byrde family relocate to the Ozarks in Missouri. Unaccustomed to life in the rural south, they face many of the difficulties families experience when uprooting; impending drug lord visits and FBI investigations aside. One of the main antagonists is the aptly named ‘Agent Petty‘. This FBI agent, whose obsessive pursuit of Marty results in his own personal descent into crime, makes viewers question the morality of the law itself.

In the picturesque backdrop of the Ozarks, corruption lingers on every embankment.  The formidable Ruth Langmore, head of a criminal family while her father’s in prison, plays both ally and enemy to the Byrde enterprise. The Byrdes are also in regular cahoots with the Snells, a dangerous hillbilly family with a history spanning back centuries. The beauty of Ozark is that the integrity of each family unit is undermined, and corruption always seeps its way in, causing rifts that seemingly appear from nowhere. Admittedly, this makes it sound a little like Breaking Bad, but it is different, and in some ways better.

Female character stands with torch pointed at safe

Ruth Langmore (played by Julia Garner), Marty’s most “trusted” employee

Character Development

Wendy Byrde, played by the oh-so amicable Laura Linney, is a prime example of the ‘good girl gone bad’ trope. She begins in Ozark as a post-political-career suburban housewife whose only wrongdoing is infidelity. Who would judge? However, her hands progressively get a little dirtier…and dirtier, until they are completely soiled, much to the viewer’s delight.

Other notable characters are the aforementioned Ruth Langmore, whose loyalties between her own kin and Marty’s business make her an unpredictable force-to-be-reckoned-with. It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Characters like Buddy Dyker, the Byrde’s terminally-ill nudist tenant, give the show a more lighthearted dimension. He becomes indispensable in many ways, particularly to Marty’s troubled son, Jonah.

Well, that’s it in a “nutsnell” *ba-dum-tss*. I would give Ozark a raging 5/5 for its ability to make regular breaks for an intake of breath necessary. Whether you agree or not, let’s hear your thoughts below. Here’s the trailer, too (warning, contains graphic violence).