The Netflix original series “Ozark” is to money laundering what AMC’s “Breaking Bad” was to drug dealing. The video streaming company already has a show about drug kingpins, “Narcos,” but they’re continuing the trend of well-written crime narratives with “Ozark.”
Set in the Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri, the show follows Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman, giving a gripping performance), a financial advisor involved in a money laundering scheme spearheaded by a Mexican drug lord. Marty lives with his wife, teenage daughter, and adolescent son in a Chicago suburb. But after his partners are revealed to be stealing money from their boss, Marty and his family are forced to uproot and relocate to the Ozarks in order to launder $500 million in five years.
While living in Missouri to save himself and his family from violent execution, Marty is also on the run from the FBI, who are looking into the disappearances of his partners and have made him a prime suspect.
Suspicion runs deep through each character, since no one has much of a reason to trust anyone. Even in the show’s pilot episode, every character is revealed to have some sort of dangerous secret, including Marty’s children.
In general, child actors don’t do very well on screen, but Jonah and Charlotte, Marty’s son and daughter, are two believable and well-performed kids. Marty’s wife, Wendy (Laura Linney) gives a noteworthy performance as well. Jason Bateman, however, takes center stage with his performance.
Marty is an antihero, meaning he’s our protagonist bent on doing the right thing, but for the wrong reasons or through morally questionable actions. From the beginning, Marty is a morally questionable character, given that he’s a money launderer for a Mexican drug cartel, and that he’s a financial adviser to failing businesses (getting their hopes up, then washing money through them).
While Marty is an antihero, he’s not necessarily a bad guy. He loves his family, and strives to keep everything business oriented and violence free. He’s a genius, both strategically and with numbers, so everything goes smoother when there’s little conflict or evidence.
“Ozark” is one of the better Netflix originals to come out within the last year, and the remarkable performances from the cast and crew are responsible for that. Even if you aren’t interested in the crime underworld and shows that revolve around that, you should give the first episode a watch just to get a glimpse at the excellent work done by all involved.
The show currently has one season consisting of ten episodes, all of which are under an hour long excluding the finale.