Review: Season one of Ozark

Readability

Review: Season one of Ozark

By John Ruberry

Last night I ended another binge-​watching ven­ture, this time it was Ozark, a Net­flix orig­i­nal series star­ring Jason Bate­man. Sea­son one, con­sist­ing of ten episodes, was released in July and Ozark has already been renewed for a sec­ond run.

Marty Byrde (Bate­man) is a finan­cial plan­ner who makes a deal with the devil, actu­ally a Mex­i­can drug car­tel, to laun­der its cash. So, Byrde qui­etly toils away and the car­tel gra­ciously thanks him for his efforts and all is well?

Uh, no.

Byrde and his wife Wendy (Laura Lin­ney) are the typ­i­cal smug Chicago area cou­ple who I inter­act with reg­u­larly. Wendy is proud of her polit­i­cal activism, she even worked on Barack Obama’s state Sen­ate cam­paigns, although it’s dif­fi­cult to say why she was needed as Obama ran unop­posed in all three of his Demo­c­ra­tic pri­mary races and the dis­trict he rep­re­sented was far more Demo­c­ra­tic than Wyoming is Repub­li­can. Per­haps Wendy was the scoundrel behind knock­ing all of Obama’s pri­mary oppo­nents off of the bal­lot. If so, it fits her char­ac­ter. Inter­est­ingly, there is an early scene of Marty inspect­ing office space Chicago’s Trump Tower.

Bryde’s han­dler, Camino Del Rio (Esai Morales), dis­cov­ers $8 mil­lion in car­tel cash is miss­ing. After Byrde’s co-​workers are well, liq­ui­dated, in an act of des­per­a­tion Byrde con­vinces “Del” that Lake of the Ozarks, Mis­souri, which has “more coast­line than the state of Cal­i­for­nia,” is a far bet­ter place than Chicago to laun­der his dirty money because it’s not crawl­ing with fed­eral agents.

So seem­ingly quicker than it takes me to check out of a hotel room the Byrdes and their chil­dren, 15-​year-​old Char­lotte (Sofia Hublitz) and Jonah (Sky­lar Gaert­ner) do a reverse-​Beverly Hill­bil­lies and relo­cate to the Lake of the Ozarks, one of sev­eral places in Amer­ica known as a Red­neck Riviera.

The Byrdes nearly imme­di­ately con­front a fam­ily of small-​time crim­i­nals, the Lang­mores, who live in – wait for it – run-​down trail­ers. They are rais­ing two bob­cats. Just inside the door of one of the trail­ers is a a poster of a top­less woman.

And like Brew­ster in the sev­eral Brewster’s Mil­lions movies, Marty finds that quickly spend­ing mil­lions, or laun­der­ing it, is harder than he thought it would be, par­tic­u­larly in the rural loca­tion he chose. An even greater chal­lenge for the Byrdes is a mys­te­ri­ous fam­ily of big-​time crim­i­nals we meet later on. For comic relief, mostly, is the dying old man who lives in their base­ment – he is con­vinced Obama is a Muslim.

Even before the move the Byrde’s mar­riage is on the rocks – and the ten­sion of a dis­in­te­grat­ing fam­ily oper­at­ing an ille­gal enter­prise is rem­i­nis­cent of Break­ing Bad. The graphic vio­lence is rem­i­nis­cent of Sons of Anar­chy. And while no gen­i­talia is shown, the sex scenes are also quite graphic. So this fam­ily drama is by no means appro­pri­ate fam­ily view­ing. Jason Bate­man has come along way since his NBC sit­com Sil­ver Spoons.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_100542” align=“alignleft” width=“217”] Blog­ger out­side Chicago’s Trump Tower[/caption]

I don’t expect there to be a tourist boom to Lake of the Ozarks because of the show, as the red­neck cliches and the ram­pant law­less­ness of Ozark will serve as a def­i­nite buzz-​kill for travel-​minded fam­i­lies. The North­woods region’s vaca­tion dol­lars are secure. Although out­side of a few scenes in down­town Chicago, most of the show is filmed in a reser­voir area in north­ern Geor­gia. And some of the Chicago scenes are laugh­ably wrong – where do all of these hills come from? And there are no hills in Mor­ris, Illi­nois either–a won­der­ful town I’ve vis­ited many times, by the way. Here’s another incon­sis­tency: The Byrdes’ sub­ur­ban home was in Naperville. So why does their Honda Odyssey have an expen­sive Chicago vehi­cle sticker? An astute finan­cial plan­ner wouldn’t waste $136 on a use­less decal.

Yes, I’ll be back for the next sea­son. By then end of that one Ozark may have shed the shadow of Break­ing Bad.

John Ruberry reg­u­larly blogs in the Chicago area at Marathon Pun­dit.

By John Ruberry

Last night I ended another binge-watching venture, this time it was Ozark, a Netflix original series starring Jason Bateman. Season one, consisting of ten episodes, was released in July and Ozark has already been renewed for a second run.

Marty Byrde (Bateman) is a financial planner who makes a deal with the devil, actually a Mexican drug cartel, to launder its cash. So, Byrde quietly toils away and the cartel graciously thanks him for his efforts and all is well?

Uh, no.

Byrde and his wife Wendy (Laura Linney) are the typical smug Chicago area couple who I interact with regularly. Wendy is proud of her political activism, she even worked on Barack Obama’s state Senate campaigns, although it’s difficult to say why she was needed as Obama ran unopposed in all three of his Democratic primary races and the district he represented was far more Democratic than Wyoming is Republican. Perhaps Wendy was the scoundrel behind knocking all of Obama’s primary opponents off of the ballot. If so, it fits her character. Interestingly, there is an early scene of Marty inspecting office space Chicago’s Trump Tower.

Bryde’s handler, Camino Del Rio (Esai Morales), discovers $8 million in cartel cash is missing. After Byrde’s co-workers are well, liquidated, in an act of desperation Byrde convinces “Del” that Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, which has “more coastline than the state of California,” is a far better place than Chicago to launder his dirty money because it’s not crawling with federal agents.

So seemingly quicker than it takes me to check out of a hotel room the Byrdes and their children, 15-year-old Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner) do a reverse-Beverly Hillbillies and relocate to the Lake of the Ozarks, one of several places in America known as a Redneck Riviera.

The Byrdes nearly immediately confront a family of small-time criminals, the Langmores, who live in–wait for it–run-down trailers. They are raising two bobcats. Just inside the door of one of the trailers is a a poster of a topless woman.

And like Brewster in the several Brewster’s Millions movies, Marty finds that quickly spending millions, or laundering it, is harder than he thought it would be, particularly in the rural location he chose. An even greater challenge for the Byrdes is a mysterious family of big-time criminals we meet later on. For comic relief, mostly, is the dying old man who lives in their basement–he is convinced Obama is a Muslim.

Even before the move the Byrde’s marriage is on the rocks–and the tension of a disintegrating family operating an illegal enterprise is reminiscent of Breaking Bad. The graphic violence is reminiscent of Sons of Anarchy. And while no genitalia is shown, the sex scenes are also quite graphic. So this family drama is by no means appropriate family viewing. Jason Bateman has come along way since his NBC sitcom Silver Spoons.

Blogger outside Chicago’s Trump Tower

I don’t expect there to be a tourist boom to Lake of the Ozarks because of the show, as the redneck cliches and the rampant lawlessness of Ozark will serve as a definite buzz-kill for travel-minded families. The Northwoods region’s vacation dollars are secure. Although outside of a few scenes in downtown Chicago, most of the show is filmed in a reservoir area in northern Georgia. And some of the Chicago scenes are laughably wrong–where do all of these hills come from? And there are no hills in Morris, Illinois either–a wonderful town I’ve visited many times, by the way. Here’s another inconsistency: The Byrdes’ suburban home was in Naperville. So why does their Honda Odyssey have an expensive Chicago vehicle sticker? An astute financial planner wouldn’t waste $136 on a useless decal.

Yes, I’ll be back for the next season. By then end of that one Ozark may have shed the shadow of Breaking Bad.

John Ruberry regularly blogs in the Chicago area at Marathon Pundit.