It turns out that I wasn't wrong about the show. Ozark ended up having an outstanding first season, in my opinion. Aside from Bateman, playing Marty Byrde, it stars Laura Linney as his wife. Wendy Byrde may be the most polarizing character on the show. It also features Sofia Hublitz and Skylar Gaertner as Charlotte and Jonah Byrde, respectively. The kids, although mostly dragged along for the crazy ride, are also very important to particular bits of the story.
In short - without giving any real spoilers - Marty Byrde launders money for the Mexican cartel with his pal/business partner Bruce, and things go very badly when Bruce is found to have stolen from the cartel. Who steals from the cartel, right? Silly Bruce. Once this is discovered by their boss, shit hits the fan in spectacular fashion. This leads Marty to make a deal for his life (and his family's), and they all end up in the Missouri Ozarks.
The Ozarks are basically in the middle of BFE, surrounded by water, mountains, and forests. It's land on land on top of more land, with several rivers flowing in between. It's rugged, but beautiful and serene. Also, it's full of criminals. The Snells, for one, clash with Marty on multiple fronts. Jacob (Peter Mullan) and Darlene (Lisa Emery) don't play when it comes to their money.
Ozark surprises you from the very beginning. Every scene is filled with witty, relevant dialogue. Some would say the show moves slowly because there isn't much in terms of action. There's a few shots fired here and there, but the meat and potatoes are the interactions/conversations among characters. It's easy to miss a few things because of this, so there were definitely times I needed to rewind a little to get back on track.
Bateman is exceptional. His dry, matter-of-fact delivery is at its best. The most interesting thing is how each person reacted differently to it. Some found it refreshing that he was straight to the point, others found him to be quite the asshole. Byrde isn't your really your protagonist or antagonist in Ozark. He is a man who willfully decided to do illegal business and is now doing what he can to keep that business from killing him. He is lost in the middle of the spectrum.
As mentioned earlier, Laura Linney also plays a very complex character in the show. Wendy is somewhat dishonest, but very loyal. She, like Marty, would do just about anything for their family. They aren't perfect. Not even close. More importantly, though, they've got each other's back. Despite the craziness, they're a team.
The overall idea isn't exactly fresh, and combines a few different concepts together. You have the kids; they had to leave all of their friends and are trying to adapt to this new environment within a situation they can't control. The Byrdes are the new family in town, so pre-existing folk seem to give them a hard time. You have the local trouble-making family who wants a piece of the action (Julia Garner makes Ruth Langmore one of the best characters on the show!). Then there's the borderline psychotic federal agent (played by Jason Butler Harner) trying to put it all together.
It makes for a spectacular cast of contrasting characters. By the end of the season, when it all comes to a head, everything and everyone is intertwined in a very interesting, well-told story. Netflix has done an amazing job with their original programming and this one's no different. After you watch OITNB or The Defenders - but before season 2 of Stranger Things is out - I highly recommend you go home, relax, maybe get yourself a frozen custard, and start Ozark.
Rotten Tomatoes: 64%