I watch a lot of movies and TV series. A lot…Really, a lot… It’s not a brag, I realize that I probably wasted a couple of years of my life just watching a screen but I’m ok with that. Think there are worst things one could do.

There are different reasons to sit through a movie – for most people it’s to be entertained, waste some time, disconnect from daily routine or stress, spend time with someone. I do it because I see them as a sort of puzzle, at least the good ones. I don’t mind watching a blockbuster where I know the good guy will save the world and get the girl in the end but those are not memorable, they don’t tickle my fancy. Those I watch to test my predicting skills.

Recently I went through (more accurately binged on) the first season of Ozark. A fresh TV series on Netflix. Produced by two pretty well known companies, Media Rights Capital and Zero Gravity Management, this project was intended to compete with some of the bigger shows out there (and in my opinion, it does so quite well).

For me, the cast is one of the strong suits. You have big A listers, Jason Bateman and Laura Linney, alongside some actors that are not that well known like Harris Yulin and Esai Morales. Everyone just naturally fits and feel like they belong in that world (and that’s very important for me). Yes, makeup can help, but attitude, accent, demeanour cannot be artificially created, you need talented actors to organically portray it.

I particularly enjoy the character played by Julia Garner – a teenager hardened by life, living in poverty, with a broken family, trying to make sense in a world that doesn’t give a shit about her and is almost voided of opportunities. She is smart, shrewd and determined but also flawed (like all characters).

The soundtrack also caught my eyes, or better said ears. It seems that quite a few of the new series realized that this is an integral aspect of what makes a good and complete viewing experience. (Some other shows that impressed me in this aspect are Stranger things and Westworld)

One thing that sometimes worries me is to see the actor that stars in the show or movie also get credited as director. I was surprised to see that the episodes directed by mr. Bateman were quite solid in this regard, pretty straight forward, a couple of more artistic shots here and there, nothing bad to report on this front.

I’m not going to delve too much into the plot or the story (the plot is simple and the story needs to be experienced by the viewer, so no point in talking too much about these). What I did want to touch on and highlight was the way in which the characters choose to react seeing the situations they are put in. The internal struggles with greed, temptation, forgiveness, hate, love. How much are you willing to do to save a strained relationship? What are you prepared to do to save your life?  What are you willing to give up for your family? How much can you really trust someone? Could you forgive your partner for cheating? These are questions most people have asked themselves at one point or another (or should). For me this is what the show is about, making you part of the narrative and putting you in the position of answering these questions for yourself.

The show is not flawless. The protagonist(s) suffer from a slight case of Hollywoodian cliche syndrome – Marty is smart and when that’s not enough he’s lucky…and when that’s not enough…he’s saved by the script. It’s not all bad, you want your lead character to be special but not too special… just the right amount.

Overall a good show, looking forward for the next season.

What are your thoughts?



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