These kind of opinions are somewhat frowned upon on the internet but I’m fearless so I’m gonna go ahead with it anyway: Ozark isn’t terrible, but it’s not great. I know everything online is supposed to be the greatest thing ever or the worst thing ever, but this is neither. It’s meh. It’s ok. Ozark is bad sex, you’re not gonna stop in the middle of it but when it’s done you’re not going to be satisfied and you’ll think that there were much better things you could’ve been doing with your time. There are tons of shows I watch, even Office reruns, where I will immediately click “Play Next” as soon as an episode ends, but with Ozark I found myself watching the countdown to next episode tick away while I sat there thinking “I’ve got nothing else to do, so, I guess…”
There’s no real OH SHIT moments with Ozark, no closing scenes where you absolutely *need* to find out what happens next. The entire season is an exercise in monotony with problems constantly being solved but guess what? Those solutions just lead to another problem. Who woulda thunk it!
Action is almost completely absent in the show as well. The pilot episode is excellent and has plenty of shit happening, so you may think that’s what you’re in for the rest of the way, but from there on out it’s mostly boring. I’m not a child who needs constant battle scenes, season one of Bloodline is probably my favorite show on Netflix and everyone loves to say that was a “slow burn” (big TV buzzword these days). But Ozark is a slow burn to a dud of a firework rather than the 4 episodes of explosion that Bloodline gave us. On top of that, Bloodline had incredible writing and acting from a handful of characters while Ozark’s is all just “fine.” Ruth, one of the backwoods girls that Jason Bateman finds himself heads up against, is excellent, everyone else is OK to good, much like the show. Even the cinematography in Bloodline beats the shit out of Ozark, as Bloodline excelled at making the Florida Keys feel like an actual character in the show with great shots, exploration of the surroundings, and even subtle things like the fact that everyone is constantly sweating. In Ozark, the Ozarks always just feel like the place they are rather than a key component, despite the fact that consistent reference to “more coastline than the state of California” in the pilot makes you think the environment will be far more important.
At the end of the day Ozark just wants to be way better than it actually is. It wants to be a cross between Breaking Bad and Bloodline but it’s not. It’s your standard antihero drama that constantly gets made, with the patriarch who’s doing it for the family and the matriarch who’s nagging him along the way. It’s not the worst show ever made but at the end of the day it’s nothing you haven’t seen ten times by now.
PS – One episode I really did like was the flashback episode, “Kaleidoscope” (ep. 8), which shows how the whole thing started. If they focused on the beginning and showed us how everything fell apart I’d be into it, but I never got hooked by the storyline they chose.
PPS – I’d also watch a show that was just about Ruth, or even the hillbilly heroin dealers, but I’ve seen the “good guy is in over his head with some bad stuff” story too many times to fall in love with it again.