The following review of season one of Netflix’s Ozark contains minor spoilers.
True-crime has become infectious within mainstream pop culture. The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, Making A Murderer and Serial helped to jumpstart the true-crime trend. The majority of these shows focus on real life events, documenting the mystery and fear behind these incidents. Netflix’s Ozark is putting its spin on the true-crime trend, not with reality but through an intense dramatization.
Ozark stars Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Julia Garner, and Esai Morales. Martin Byrde, played by Bateman, is a Chicago businessman who has become involved with a drug cartel because of his money laundering capabilities. The following is a race against time to launder $8 million within Ozark, Missouri, the stakes on the line, the lives of his family.
Jason Bateman impresses both on and behind the camera. Bateman has become known for his comedic chops, but Ozark allows him to show off his wider range of acting abilities. Comparisons to Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Breaking Bad are inevitable, but Bateman puts his spin on the role of a man entering into the world of crime to provide for his family. Bateman directed four episodes of the series, which allowed him to express his take on the characters and story from a prominent perspective.
Laura Linney is simply fantastic. Her character shows a range and allows the audiences to connect to the story. Linney is a woman going through the unthinkable, and her only priority is keeping her family alive. Linney’s performance is captivating, aggressive and passionate. Julia Garner proves that she is one to watch in the business, her performance holds up against Bateman and Linney.
Ozark starts off with a hard-hitting first episode. We are thrown into this life or death scenario, with the backdrop of a town that is filled with history, tourists, and crime. Ozark is smartly paced and is designed for a binge-addicted audience. With cliff-hanging endings, it allows viewers to become even more invested into the Byrde family. The premise of the show does follow a paint-by-numbers true-crime story, but it’s the acting and directing talent that elevates this drama.
Ozark capitalizes on the true-crime trend and binge-watching culture to create a series that is intense, yet familiar. That familiarity of a crime drama draws audiences in, and the cliffhangers keep them watching. As most original series on Netflix do, this show is left open for the storyline to continue. It’s highly likely that fans will be able to return to the Ozarks for a second season.
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