Netflix Review – Ozark (Seasons 1-3): The Best-Acted Crime Drama on Television

Jason Bateman and Laura Linney star as a couple who are forced to work for a drug cartel.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free for Season 3)

Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) is a financial advisor who has been laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel. His partner Bruce (Josh Randall) is caught skimming millions of dollars. Facing his own execution, Marty tells the cartel that he has a plan to launder millions of dollars in the Ozarks. The cartel gives him a short time to replace all of the money that Bruce stole, so Marty moves with his wife Wendy (Laura Linney) and his children Charlotte and Jonah (Sofia Hublitz and Skylar Gaertner) to the Ozarks and sets up buying properties to launder money. He hires local criminal family member Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner), is pursued by FBI agents Petty and Evans (Jason Butler Harner and McKinley Belcher III), and tries to work with local drug growers Jacob and Darlene Snell (Peter Mullan and Lisa Emery). Eventually Marty and Wendy set up a casino in the Ozarks to increase the amount they can launder.

Ozark - 1Byrdes
That feeling when you have to launder money in the middle of nowhere or die.


I should start by saying that I was almost certainly going to like any show that included both Jason Bateman and Laura Linney in the cast. I think that they are both unbelievably good dramatic performers who also can deliver killer laughs when the occasion calls for it. Putting them together in a dark crime drama allows for a wide range of performances, including playing very strongly into Bateman’s deadpan comedy moments that he did so well on Arrested Development

Ozark - 2Byrdes
He’s a much better father on this than Arrested Development

However, even though they are both amazing, the supporting cast in this show really brings it to another level. Julia Garner’s performance as the abused outcast of her redneck crime family is phenomenal, as is Janet McTeer’s performance as Helen Pierce, the cartel’s ruthless attorney who shows up in Season 2. Everyone has very well defined motives and watching all of them interact never ceases to create amazing scenes. 

Ozark - 3Julia
She’s just the right level of redneck. 

The writing and pacing of the show are both amazing. The show frequently escalates the stakes and changes the status of the characters, but it always feels appropriate and organic. Similar to Breaking Bad, we see the members of the Byrde family forced to take greater and greater measures to protect themselves from the cartel and the FBI, but we also see that they start to enjoy aspects of the dangerous lifestyle. 

If you haven’t checked it out, I recommend it strongly.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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