Saturday, July 22, 2017

New Netflix series set in my part of the country: Ozark

The Atlantic magazine reports this week on Netflix's "Ozark" under the headline:  "Ozark: Netflix's Grim Foray Into Flyover Country" and the subhead, "The new 10-hour drama follows a Chicago financial adviser forced to move to Missouri to launder money for a cartel."  Here's an interesting excerpt:
Ozark has the potential to be many interesting things, and the fact that it commits to none of them feels like overextension. With America’s rural and coastal divide sharper than ever, a premise that drops a tony Chicago family into flyover country is full of promise, particularly because Bill Dubuque, the show’s creator, worked in the area during college, and still lives in Missouri. Even if you’re as hell-bent on dourness as Ozark is, the environment is rich with narrative potential, as the stories of Daniel Woodrell and the 2010 film Winter’s Bone would attest. And yet Ozark can’t get into it. It wants to unpack this intriguing rural community, but it also wants to be a drama about an unlikely criminal, like Breaking Bad, and a show about a boring marriage revived by a shared mission, like The Americans, and a fable about how everyone’s trying to make a living the best way they know how, just like The Wire.
 The link embedded there is to a New York Times review of the series.
Elsewhere on the lake, assumptions about families and class are similarly subverted. An extended clan of petty crooks is overseen by one of its youngest members, a teenage girl. Perhaps the warmest relationship on the show is a marriage between two other local criminals, a pair of murderous heroin dealers.
That story also makes this statement, which reminds me of the series "Justified," specifically where matriarch of the local crime family Mags Bennet gets the best of the Harvard-educated lawyer trying to do a land deal with her on behalf of "Big Energy."  Here's the NYT excerpt about the "Ozark" equivalent.  
Marty, the arrogant Chicago financial expert, is consistently thwarted by locals who are smarter than he assumes, with schemes of their own. “He makes a really bad miscalculation in what he perceives that environment’s going to be, and his ability to manipulate it,” Mr. Bateman said.
By the way, the lake referred to is the manmade Lake of the Ozarks, a section (Party Cove) of which the NYTimes referred to in a 2005 story as “'the oldest established permanent floating bacchanal in the country'”— where expansive waterfront mansions sit within a few miles of trailer parks."

For some of my posts on Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone --or, more precisely, Debra Granik's film based on it--see here, here, here, and here.  A post on another Woodrell book set in the region, The Maid's Tale, is here.

As a 6th generation Ozarkian myself--albeit from the Arkansas side of the state line--I'll be keeping an eye out for "Ozark."

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