Netflix thought they were so smart when they set Ozark’s release date for March 27. They weren’t competing against any other shows or movie launches, so they could own the weekend. And they did, just not for Ozark. Tiger King, the utterly documentary following exotic pet owners has captured everyone’s attention, but for the diehards (like myself) we were all in on Ozark. The show came out of nowhere in 2017, but it quickly cemented itself as one of the more compelling shows on offer from the streaming giant. Now in its third season, the show is better than ever and now begs the question: Is this the best show out right now?
If you haven’t familiarized yourself yet, here’s a brief summary: Marty Byrde is a successful accountant with the quintessential family and a picture-perfect life in suburban Chicago. But, as we come to learn, this is just one of the many fronts that the money laundering maven has created. Byrde actually works for one of the most powerful Mexican drug cartels. When his partner gets caught with his hands in their cookie jar, Marty has to concoct a scheme to make the Mexican cartel whole and keep his family alive. He conjures up a plan to move them down to the Ozarks and build an operation large enough to not only make the cartel whole but to make them even richer than they were before.
If/when you watch the trailers, you will see that there’s enough violence and vague, concerning dialogue to hook just about anyone in. While it may not look it on the surface this a family drama through and through. Marty and Wendy’s marriage is on the rocks and their kids are wayward, growing beyond the control of their parents. The Byrdes are forced to manage their fracturing family while the cartel looms in the shadows and the FBI watches their every move from afar. The tightrope that they are forced to walk as they try to make things right and keep everyone safe is as nerve-racking as anything I’ve seen on TV.
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In the midst of all that, we also get some fantastic acting across the board. Ruth Langmore, played by Julia Garner (The Americans, Waco, Dirty John) is probably the best character on the show. She’s already in the pantheon of best swearing characters of all time. Darlene Snell, played by Lisa Emery (Jessica Jones, Unfaithful), is a manic pixie turned angel of death. Whenever she enters, there’s no telling which way it will go. But the back and forth between Wendy and Marty throughout the show stands out the most. The Breaking Bad comparisons that the show elicits are inevitable. However, they fall apart because of how strong and how resourceful Wendy proves to be. Not one of the female leads from other prestigious tv series (sorry Carmella Soprano, Betty Draper, and Skylar White), holds a candle to Laura Linney’s Wendy. Her performance this past season should earn her an Emmy nomination at the very least. It’s also something to watch Jason Bateman emerge not only as one of the best leading men in a TV Drama but as one the best television directors too.
Ozark is already the best show that Netflix has put out (80s nostalgia isn’t good enough to vault Stranger Things to the top of my list ). If it continues on its current trajectory, it will force its way into the best shows of all time conversation. The showrunners and some of the writing and directing talent used to work on another incredible show, The Americans, and you can see that early on. The plot and the quality of the acting here is phenomenal. You won’t regret putting the time into this excellent show.