It’s been a few months now since Deb and I, while wintering in northern Arkansas, binged the first three-and-a-half seasons of Ozark. Season Four, Part Two of the compelling serial dropped a few days ago, so we settled in Friday and Saturday to watch the final seven episodes.
The ending didn’t disappoint — it was perfect, actually, skillfully written and produced. All 44 episodes were extremely well done. If I was gonna give up two days of my life to fiction, Ozark turned out to be worth my time.
When the series premiered in 2017, Trump had just been inaugurated and Hollywood still was coming to grips with The Inevitable Woman’s latest failure. Ozark‘s script maintained relatively decent plot discipline, albeit with occasional digs at the political Right. We couldn’t ignore that the Byrdes (like the actors who play them) are avowed Democrats, wannabe-elites seeking to amass enough dirty money to wield political clout and fund liberal causes.
Wendy is the prototypical progressive apparatchik, as brittle as she is pathological, clawing her way back to relevance among the powerful. Deb and I found the character easy to hate — in fact, we agree that when someone casts The Really Big Hillary Movie, Laura Linney should get the lead role by acclamation. All she’d have to do is reprise her Ozark role, channeling the conniving and clumsily ruthless Wendy.
Marty, on the other hand, is far more complicated. Though actor Jason Bateman is no centrist, his believable performance appears to reflect his own thoughtfulness (such as it is) and intellectual dimension.
Bateman not only played the protagonist but also was Ozark‘s co-executive producer and directed nine episodes. That may have shaped his role and others’, perhaps even the scriptwriting.
Consider that some of the series was shot on-location in Missouri near Lake of The Ozarks, which is surrounded by four very conservative counties. We’re talkin’ major MAGA Country — in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, Trump’s share of the popular vote was between 76% and 86%.
And what happened when woke Hollywood came a-callin’? Here are a couple of excerpts from an interview that Bateman did in 2017, right after a well-received Season One:
“It’s a really mysterious place, because it’s populated with a very colorful, quiet-yet-proud people. That can be off-putting, and there’s kind of a dangerous indifference to a lot of people down there. They’re comfortable, they’re happy and there’s no real need for them to adjust or pivot to anybody else’s agenda.”
“The middle of the country has to be reckoned with. They’re the majority insofar as they got [Trump] elected. Perhaps people on both coasts might come out a little bit more in earnest next time… but they can’t be ignored, they can’t be belittled. They just do things differently, and different things are important to them.”
I don’t attach great significance to those snippets, but I do find what Bateman said (on that day) interesting. An area inhabited by true Americans must seem like “a really mysterious place” to visiting coastal elites, yet this actor managed to talk about it without hurling any of the standard leftist epithets (“deplorables,” e.g.).
In the series, Marty figured that shit out. Wendy never did.
In the end, Ozark doesn’t set any cultural benchmarks and it isn’t groundbreaking. I mean, All In The Family it ain’t.
What it is, is excellent. Every minute I invested was rewarded. It earns all the accolades it gets and, in my opinion, it deserves your attention.
Some aspects of Ozark will resonate awhile, I expect, as a cultural phenomenon. Perhaps the best prospect is Ruth Langmore.
Even if you watched only an episode or two of the series, you know exactly why. Ruth was Ozark‘s most popular character.
For the record, I’m not looking for another show to binge. (I know, I wasn’t looking for this one, and you can shut up about that.) The day may come when I’ll be confined to a chair in front of a TV but that day’s not here yet. And though I’m glad to have devoted those 48 hours to Ozark, I still have a life and I intend to keep living it.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.