Ozark is only three seasons old but it’s already covered a lot of ground and is only getting better.
There’s crime, family, strong female leaders, and some exceptional performances that make it one of the best shows on TV right now.
I’ve picked out just three reasons that make it so interesting – be warned, there are spoilers!
Women are the real leaders (not angry men)
A lot has been made about how Ozark is the last of the angry male protagonist shows.
Lets set a couple of things straight here.
Marty doesn’t rage, at best he simmers.
And the angry men that feature in Ozark are taken down by the strong female characters in the show.
Here are three examples of that:
- Ruth murders her uncles
- Wendy arranges for Cade to be killed
- Darelene blows off Frank Cosgrove Jr.’s balls
Each of these three women takes out the raging men for various reasons, but one thing is the same in all examples – they do it because they have the leadership to see that it’s the right thing to do at the time.
Far from being show driven by an angry male protagonist, Ozark gets its direction from its ladies.
Portrays the banality of crime’s relationship with gambling
Gambling features heavily in the Ozark’s storyline and it’s interesting to see the stance the show adopts – it’s not a moral one, but instead accepts that it’s simply a part of how crime operates.
Indeed, the banality of the relationship the two things enjoy is refreshing.
Of course, the Byrde’s choose a casino as their primary method for laundering money and it’s natural that they trick their way into getting it.
These are not new ideas but the lack of romance behind and excitement behind everything makes it all the more alluring. Why? Because it feels real.
One of the rare occasions where the relationship between isn’t banal is the slot scam.
Ruth hatches a plan to use an algorithm to bleed their competitor dry by turning their slots into lighting fast cash withdrawal machines.
Now, fast withdrawal casinos are one of the things gamblers look for and I recommend you find out more about them if you’re a gambling fan yourself. But the speed with which their cash drips out goes beyond anything you could ever expect.
And while the idea is (at its core) a really simple one, it does feel like one of the rare moments where the Byrde’s gambling-crime partnership is about more than laundering – it’s about crushing the opposition, which is one of the characteristics criminals and gamblers share.
It has a really
crazy interesting concept of family
Ozark has been called Netflix’s attempt at doing Breaking Bad and there are some strong connections between the two – drug money, extreme violence, smoldering storylines.
But perhaps the most important is family – it’s the motivation that drives both shows.
Walt gets into the drug game because he wants to protect his family and Skylar becomes an accomplice to his plans for the same reasons.
Marty doesn’t get into the business of laundering cartel money for quite the same reason, but many of the actions he and Wendy take are for these reasons – like Walt.
One really interesting feature of both Ozark and Breaking Bad is the fate of brothers.
Hank dies because he’s chasing Walt, while Ben dies because he berates Marty and Wendy.
In both cases, neither the White family nor the Byrde one wants the brother to die but there’s one big difference between the two – Wendy makes the choice that her own brother must die.
It’s gut-wrenching and it means that Ozark offers perhaps the most extreme example people will go to protect their family – killing one their own flesh and blood to keep their core unit safe.
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Female leaders, criminal banality, and family, these aren’t new concepts and in the hands of another show they could be just another set of storylines.
However, with the Ozark writing and acting team behind them they’re elevated to another level.
It’s not one that threatens Breaking Bad’s status as the greatest show of the noughties
But it’s one that makes it a worthy companion and easily one of the most interesting shows of recent years.