The second season of Netflix’s original Ozark has been on Netflix for over a month now. The show is, “really good,” according to Jennifer Given, history teacher and student council adviser, and I have to agree. Jason Bateman plays a quick thinking and calculated man named Marty Bryde, the main character. His partner in crime, Wendy, played by Laura Linney, tries to build the perfect family, sweeping their issues under the rug, which is typical for her occupation as a politician.
The entire dynamic of the show was called “underhyped” by Film Studies teacher Victoria Flaherty. In many opinions, the story is grabbing, shot using moody gray and blue filters, and elicits an impending unavoidable anxiety.
Marty Byrde, who crunches numbers as a financial adviser, is hardworking and provides for his family by laundering money for a Mexican Cartel. Byrde’s MO is pushing numbers and creating shell companies, but when he and his business partner, Bruce, are caught skimming, he’s turned into a field agent.
His business partner is shot to prove a point, and Byrde strikes a deal with the Cartel: he must wash, or launder, eight million dollars in one summer, in Ozark, Missouri. With all of this occurring in the first episode, Given said that if in the “first 10-15 minutes you don’t like it, it isn’t for you.” She emphasized that the show “really hits the ground running.” Flaherty agreed with this sentiment, also recommending for students to talk with their parents before viewing, as she can’t recommend it as a teacher, since the content is “not for everyone.”
Season two builds off the premise of the first season, and, without giving away spoilers, it’s intense. The show raises the stakes, introducing new problems and recurring issues such as the FBI and the Bryde’s problematic neighbors. New characters are introduced and old ones make appearances too, making the show dance the line between a balanced array of colorful personalities and too many people.
Navigating life without an accompanying moral compass is a major theme throughout both seasons. The Cartel reminds Byrde and his wife that they do not appreciate being double crossed, and that their family is at risk too, because to them, nothing is sacred. “It’s tricky because they kind of say if you don’t stop we won’t harm the kids- The thematically imposed moral dilemmas are a part of the show to make the viewer think, “you kind of end up rooting for the bad guy,” said Given..
Ozark also manages to hit serious notes, with Wendy Byrde, Marty Byrde’s wife, talking about life’s choices. With well-written dialogue and highly- formed characters like Wendy building the story’s foundation, it’s hard to think of the show as one dimensional.
Truth be told, the show is what you make of it. To me the show is about exploring what you, the watcher, would do to preserve the livelihood of your family when faced with unthinkable adversities. To contrasts this, Kiera Allen, writer for the Daily Journals, says “Just when you think it can’t get any darker or disturbing, Ozark rips the rug from underneath you.” The show never lets the viewer rest for long, matching prolific moments with a dark counterpart.