Dark Times Ahead in Bateman’s New Drama: Ozark

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courtesy of Netflix

If you are a native of the Saint Louis area, the Ozarks have an enigmatic feel about it. Whether it’s a childhood memory for family get-togethers or a simple staycation with your loved ones, the simple reminicing gives way when you start hearing about the other side; Party Cove, skinny dipping, drunken escapades with fratboys and of course, what is fondly referred to as the “Redneck Riviera”. The Lake of the Ozarks other side may be a dark and mysterious place that holds some secrets.

Ozark is the soap opera-ish tale of what goes on in the shadows telling foreboding stories of what greed and bad decisions drum up; all delicious elements for a chilling dark tale set in the country.

Jason Bateman plays Marty Byrde, a former Chicago money mogul who has been laundering money for a Mexican drug lord played by Esai Morales. Byrde’s operation is discovered and seeks to move the whole operation to the Lake of the Ozarks.  It’s a virtual maze in that territory and finding people would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Bateman always does a good job of playing the guilty, terror-ridden with fox like intelligence that makes the audience ultimately root for his underdog characters.  His wife Wendy, who is played by Laura Liney  reminds me of a real life Lois Griffin.  Julia Garner is cast as Ruth Langmore, the young but formidable matriarch of an illegitimate family business.

“Ozark” isn’t a pretty dynasty where beautiful people do dastardly things. It’s raw with a bit of Swamp people and Duck Dynasty. The inhabitants are as “country” as you can get. The hill people aren’t all goodnatured goofballs. Underneath the surface, they are cunning and use their wits to survive. In this land, the Byrde’s are the ones who have to worry and they have to learn the lay of the land fast before anything else happens.

This tale is dark and gritty. It’s earned itself a TV-MA rating for violence and language and it definitely doesn’t have the happy go lucky ending. It’s not a show for everyone but if you like shows like Twin Peaks and Narcos.

There are points in the show where humor breaks up the drama and the characters are definitely well developed from the pilot. The audience needs to pay attention with all the twists and turns as the story definitely will hold interest but not laid out so clearly to keep viewers from feeling lost.