Ozark

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Ozark TV Poster Image
Dark drama wants to be "Breaking Bad" but isn't up to par.

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 18+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

A supportive family with a mom, dad, and two teens is at the center of this drama, which is the only positive message to be gleaned from a drama about unrepentant criminals. Many characters voice racist and/or classist sentiments too: One character calls the Lake of the Ozarks the "redneck Riviera," and another says that there "camouflage is a primary color." A law enforcement officer says that if "Mexicans, mafia, and Muslims" weren't "dealing drugs and flying planes into buildings, they'd be cleaning toilets."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Martin Byrde is a criminal despite being an average family man to outside appearances. He supports and loves his children, but puts his whole family in danger with his criminal activities. Wife Wendy is complicit in his criminal activities and deserves some of the blame for her family's difficult situation, yet in many scenes she is loving to her children: caring for them, cooking for them, hugging them. 

Violence

Marty deals with gangsters; violence is potentially possible at any time. Characters, including those we've come to know, are suddenly killed on-screen: shot, thrown off a balcony of a skyscraper. We see blood and dead bodies, including some that are wrapped in plastic and placed in a drum for dumping. Marty and his wife and teen children are threatened with death by a ruthless gangster. 

Sex

Sexual themes and situations: A man covertly watches pornography when he's with clients as well as with his wife. In the porn, a woman performs oral sex on her knees and then has sex bent over a bed; no nudity is seen, but her male partner thrusts and groans. A man vividly imagines picking up a sex worker on the street and getting oral sex; a woman stops a man from "beating off" in his car; a woman is having an affair and her husband finds out. Vulgar reference to masturbation ("rub one out") and to body parts (a man compares a woman's private parts to an animal trap).

Language

Cursing: "f--k," "s--t," "bulls--t," "goddamn"; one man calls another a "little bitch" (implying he's whining) and another man calls his wife a "f--king bitch"; a teenager tells her parents that "no f--king way" is she going to do something. Strong and/or insulting language includes "retard," "screw you," "d--kish," crap."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main characters work for a drug cartel -- expect references to and possible sightings of drugs like methamphetamine. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ozark is a downbeat drama about a man who launders money for a drug cartel who's forced to flee with his family to a small town in Missouri. The family is in league with gangsters; violence is a threat and often erupts on-screen. Characters are suddenly shot or plummet from a skyscraper; we see blood and dead bodies (some prepared to be dumped), and a family including teen children is threatened with violent death. Sexual themes are also common: a man covertly watches pornography with a man and woman having oral sex and intercourse with thrusting and groaning; no nudity is visible. In other scenes, a man is stopped when masturbating in his car, and a woman gives a man oral sex. Cursing includes "f--k," "s--t," and "goddamn," and "bitch" sometimes used to imply a man is a whiner. There are also racist statements, sometimes made by characters who should be admirable.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bydfilmpro July 22, 2017

Nudity, Violence, unessisary sexual content.

not for kids or adults who choose to avoid nudity and sexually explicit themes. This show is decent but ramps up the violence, nudity, and sex as episodes advan... Continue reading
Parent of a 5 and 7 year old Written byAmused in NM August 19, 2017

Potentially interesting until LOTS of reacurring unnecessary sexual content in every episode

I liked the cast and the story line was different. WAY more nudity than the official commonsense review. (Breasts of pregnant stripper, private dance with breas... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byTotoro-Sootgremlins December 26, 2017
All in all I think this is a good show, but not for young kids. There is violence, language, sex, and the overall dark theme of the show.
Teen, 17 years old Written byTub Tub July 24, 2018

Dark, gritty, explicit and thrilling

The show's not afraid to show the violence going on; with almost every single death being shown on screen. This ranges from people splatting onto buildings... Continue reading

What's the story?

In Netflix's mature drama OZARK, Martin Byrde (Jason Bateman) is a fake financial advisor and con man who's been laundering money for a decade for a Mexican drug cartel under the supervision of kingpin Del (Esai Morales). When Martin and Del discover one fateful night that Martin's longtime partner has been skimming from the till, Del sets Martin up with an almost-impossible challenge: launder $500 million for the cartel in just five years. And Martin has to do it from the Missouri tourist town Lake of the Ozarks, where he's immediately to move with his harried, double-dealing wife Wendy (Laura Linney) as well as their bewildered teen children, Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner). It's a lot to handle, but it's better than the alternative: no future at all for the Byrde family. 

Is it any good?

Alas, this show is a bit of a grim slog, clearly hoping to borrow a little of the shimmer of Breaking Bad, but lacking that show's spark and quirky characters. Bateman, who oozes charm in just about every role he's ever played, is curiously opaque in Ozark, hard to relate to. Unlike Breaking Bad's Walter, a righteously furious man who makes the wrong choices for the right reasons (at least at first), Bateman's Marty already broke bad, a decade ago. This makes him a lot tougher to relate to, which muddies the central conflict: It's not as much fun to watch a creep wiggle through a tough situation as it is to see a good guy caught in the grip of something bad. 

Linney's huffy, knowing Wendy is more interesting to watch as the Byrdes settle in to their new home and start questing for the next great money-laundering scheme. Will it be a strip club? A tourist resort? A local evangelical church? And how soon before the local lowlifes come crawling out of the woodwork to start creating their own complications? As the twists start piling up, viewers may find themselves pulled into the drama, despite the script's tendency to have its characters pause to make stentorian speeches about the American work ethic or the criminal activities of immigrants. Fans of Netflix's serious dramas (House of Cards, for one) should give this one a try, but the unconverted are unlikely to stick around. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why criminal settings, particularly ones connected with illegal drugs, are so common for modern television dramas. What dramatic possibilities does Ozark offer? Find out when your teens are ready for complex content like this show.

  • How is the viewer supposed to relate to the character of Martin Byrde? Is he sympathetic? A villain? A flawed hero? How can you tell how viewers are supposed to feel about him? 

  • Movies and TV shows often communicate with a characteristic color palette: cheerful musicals will have eye-popping bright colors, horror productions will have lots of red and black. What's the color palette of this drama? Why?

TV details

For kids who love drama

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