Family comes first
After four very intense seasons, the Ozark series came to an end without disappointing its many fans. Until it was released in the summer of 2017, many people – Americans included – had no idea what the Ozarks were: a mountainous, forested area of Missouri with a large number of navigable lakes and rivers. “The rednecks’ Riviera”, as one of the characters describes it. The sophisticated Byrde family ends up in this part of deep America. The father, Martin, is a major financial advisor from Chicago who years earlier decided to look the other way when his partner started laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel. A bad move from his the partner, however, leads Martin to find himself in a difficult position: either he agrees to collaborate more closely with the Mexicans, or he and his family will be killed. The only solution he can think of is to propose the Ozarks as an ideal destination – with more coastline than California – to launder huge amounts of money. Thus, with the constant threat on his life and those he loves, Martin ends up getting more and more involved in criminal activities. Accompanied by his wife, Wendy, and their teenage children, Charlotte and Jonah, he will have to exchange the luxuries of Chicago for a shabby motel first and a house shared with a dying old man later. As we get to know the different members of the family better – Wendy’s excessive ambition, for example – a strong connection is established with a family clan in the area, the Langmores, petty criminals who live in a caravan camp. This is where Ruth comes in, the 19-year-old daughter. Everything she lacks in physicality – she is very petite – she has in boldness, stubbornness and badassness. Ruth will end up becoming the right hand of Martin, who has great difficulty finding businesses from which to launder money.
The series, with a great soundtrack that sets music to a landscape of mundane and human contrasts, captivates with intrigue, suspense and unexpected plot twists, always with a sense of danger hanging over the Byrdes, and gets us to end up empathising with characters who move between dubious moral values and the need to survive. Much of Orzak’s success is due to the magnificent performances of Jason Bateman – far from his typical comedy roles – Laura Linney and Julia Garner, in the roles of Martin, Wendy and Ruth, respectively. Based on an idea from screenwriter and creator Bill Dubuque, both Bateman and Linney were closely involved from the start. As well as being producers, they have also directed some episodes. In total, there are four seasons and 44 episodes of approximately an hour each, which have accumulated several Emmys and which lead to a surprising, emotional and twisted ending that will leave no one indifferent.