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Ozark: Why you should be watching it

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Ozark: Why you should be watching it

Netflix. You know about it; it exists – it’s your friend and mine. It’s no secret that Netflix Original shows have been some of the most memorable TV of the last few years, but today I want to share my passion for one show in particular in the hopes that other people will become as hooked on it as I am. That show is Ozark

If you’ve ever seen Breaking Bad, then the set up for Ozark will feel kind of familiar. Marty Byrde, played by Jason Bateman (Arrested Development, Game Night), is a money launderer for a Mexican drug cartel until he is betrayed by his business partner Bruce. The Byrde family are then forced to flee their cushy life in Chicago to live in the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, thus beginning double lives as affluent investors in a backwater part of the USA. Under intense pressure from the cartel, Marty is tasked with cleaning $8m in blood money – all the way chased and harassed by the FBI, the local cops, and the myriad other criminal organisations that call the Lake of the Ozarks home.  

Money laundering, for those who don’t know, is the process of ‘washing’ the ill-gotten gains of a criminal organisation, since cash and bank transferred can be easily traced by the government. That’s where Marty comes in. His job is to ‘clean’ stolen/illegally procured money by rinsing it through a complex system of businesses and investments, inflating and over-reporting the monetary of transactions to account for the illegal money. If you were to go and spend that money without laundering, you’d be busted immediately, but laundering allows you to actually spend the money you steal.  

With the specifics out of the way, let’s take a look at what it is that the show is so good at. Firstly, the performances are off the chain. Jason Bateman (who also directs a lot of the show’s episodes) presents a character who is as devious as he is calm and pragmatic, and Laura Linney (The Truman Show, Love Actually) does an amazing job as Marty’s wife Wendy. Her character is the one who grows the most as the show progresses, transforming from a hapless bystander to an active participant in Marty’s schemes. The whole cast is exciting to watch, from the couple’s teenage kids to the show’s frankly intimidating villains.

And that’s all thanks to the screenwriting. The drama is slow, but the writers are constantly building up and drawing out tension between characters and the impacts that their actions have on one-another, so when the big moments do come, you’re left covering your mouth in shock. The mood of the show is massively supported by its presentation as well. It’s obvious that Netflix really flexed their budget on this one, with each episode looking like a big-budget movie. The shot that ends the first episode is a great example: when the Byrde family pull up to the side of a cliff to look over the Lake of the Ozarks for the first time, the drone camera tracks backwards up into the sky for what feels like miles, revealing more and more of the Lake’s geography – and just how tiny the Byrde family are in the grand scheme of the task they’ve been forced to take on. 

Lockdown may be easing, but there’s really no better time than now to sink a bunch of time into a show. Especially when it’s as good as this. I usually can’t focus on a series for longer than a couple of episodes, but after nailing the first season of Ozark in less than a week, I think it’s safe to say that I’ll be sticking with it to the bitter end.  

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