New Ways of Seeing: Ozark

From Amy Dotson, NWFC Director and PAM Curator, Film & New Media
Series Creators: Mark Williams & Bill Dubuque
Available on Netflix

I’d been warned as a day-one fan of Ozark that season three packed a wallop, but even still, I was unprepared for its final moments. Beloved by everyone from my Oklahoma relatives to Guillermo Del Toro (check out his quarantine watch list on Twitter!), this Netflix-series feels like sitting in the theatre for 24 hours straight—with all the trappings, high-production values and gut-punching performances we’d expect from such a cinematic offering…streaming on our TV.

Ozark sets the idea of corruption on its head, first by setting it within the Ozarks of Missouri (pronounced properly, that’s Miss-u-r-a) within a family of you’re-not-from-around-here “city folks” arriving to shake things up while trying to outrun their past white-collar crimes and demons. The first two seasons pitted these sophisticates against local criminal enterprises, but season three hits its stride as the entire family goes, well, rogue. Ok, I don’t want to ruin it—I’ve already said too much! But if you like acting, this is a masterclass in everything from Marty Byrd’s (Jason Bateman) slow burn criminal mastermind, Wendy Byrd’s (Laura Linney) heartbreaking oscillation between maternal and survival instincts and to her brother Ben’s (Tom Pelphrey) full tilt, entire episode journey into the heart of it all. This series went from rewriting the rules to breaking them entirely, setting up the audience for something truly unexpected and dare I say in this heightened time, absolutely shocking. Expect the unexpected indeed!