No Lights, Camera, Action: A Review of Ozark

This is something new here on Strikeouts + Sprinkles: A collab post! It features yours truly and Paul, from over at The Captain’s Speech! This post delves into both of us watching Ozark on Netflix. So, enjoy!

As someone who watched four out of the five seasons of Breaking Bad, I love a good money laundering and drug cartel show. Doesn’t everyone?

Coming off of my The Blacklist high, I was still big on crime-y shows and had seen Ozark floating around on my Netflix home screen. I knew the general gist of the show and figured, why not?

Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) is a financial adviser who lives in Chicago with his family—a wife, daughter, and son—and ends up involved with a Mexican drug cartel and says that he can launder money for the cartel. He just has to move his family to Ozark, Missouri. Seems simple enough. But, you know, how drug cartels are. Plus they get entangled with a local family who’s up to no good—the Langmores—especially once they find out Marty has millions of dollars.

I won’t give too much else away—unless Paul wants to jump in and talk more about the overall concept of the show. I’m really bad at spoiling things, so I don’t want to go any further.

BUT

BUT

I need to make a very important statement about this show:

IS THERE NO LIGHTING ON THIS PRODUCTION?

Now, I’ve never been to Missouri, so for all I know the place could be just naturally dark. BUT THE SHOW IS LITERALLY FILMED IN THE PITCH BLACK. I CAN’T TELL WHO ANYONE IS. It doesn’t help that the Byrdes sort of look the same and so do the Langmores. I was the first of the two of us to start watching Ozark so I feel partly responsible for dragging both of us down into this very dark hole of little to no lighting whatsoever on this show.

My working theory is that since the topic of the show is dark, they’re trying to set the mood with limited lighting. Because you don’t really do your money laundering for a Mexican drug cartel in broad daylight. (I’m just assuming, here.) But it’s so pitch black that it’s hard to follow what’s going on. Paul suggested turning on the subtitles so you can at least figure out who is who, like when the characters directly mention someone else’s name.

It’s more distracting than anything else. Plus a mostly dark screen just breeds glares from other lights in my room. Because I believe in proper room lighting. I’m convinced they have like one light on set, but even that could be a stretch.

Now that I’ve finished the two seasons currently on Netflix and watching regularly-lit shows, it’s like a whole new world. I don’t have to wonder what characters are on screen, who’s talking, or who just got shot. Don’t get me wrong—the show is good. I like it. I’m interested to see what happens in season three when it comes out this year. I don’t want this to discourage anyone from watching it. Rather take this as a precautionary warning.


Hi, Paul here. Can you see me? No? Must be the poor lighting. A lot more on that later.

So, Becky roped me into watching Ozark. She sent me a really aggressive message one day that read: “You need to watch Ozark.” Instead of causing a brouhaha, I watched the show.

I had seen Ozark around Netflix, but I never clicked on it because I assumed it was a show about drugs, where the main character had face tattoos and was in jail.

Boy, was I wrong. The Ozarks is a region in Missouri. How was this Canadian supposed to know?

Ozark is a show that will really make you question if your computer screen brightness is malfunctioning. You know how in school, when the teacher put on an episode of Bill Nye, but the blinds wouldn’t close fully, so there’d be a glare on half the screen and after five minutes you succumb to the fact that the right side of the screen is an obstructed view?

That’s what watching Ozark is like, but it’s intentional.

To make matters worse, the casting director cast a bunch of actors who look the same! Why does the pastor have to look like the FBI agent, and why does Jacob have to look four other characters? Must they all have white hair and itchy-looking beards?

Speaking of lookalikes, I think Jason Bateman and Nathan Fillion look the same. Not to mention names, but someone told me I was wrong, so we need an official ruling.

At one point, I mentioned a scene to Becky, which included the pastor in a grocery store, but I thought it was the FBI agent because I couldn’t tell them apart. As a result, she had no clue what I was talking about.

I realized my error a few days later (I think?) and told her, but she still didn’t remember it. It was then that I learned Becky could be sleeping through some scenes.

(Rebuttal from Becky: Well… he’s not wrong. It’s not that the show is boring, it’s just that I’m tired… and I more often than not lay in bed and watch Netflix. So I’ve had to rewatch parts of episodes because I fell asleep.)

Unbelievable! It’s amazing she’s so good at blurting out spoilers when the show is watching her.

The lighting in this show only gets worse with every episode. I was convinced that Marty Byrde’s daughter, Charlotte, was re-cast late in season one because I finally saw her in a rare, well-lit scene and she looked like a completely different person.

I learned about proper lighting in Grade 11. Hire me. Put me on the production crew and we’ll let everyone glow. Currently, it’s as if no one budgeted for light bulbs, or they assumed the Ozarks were in California.

If you look up photos of the show on Google Images, the characters look like cadavers that are alive. This is not The Walking Dead! Their skin tone does not need to come across as, “Dead for 48 hours”.

Not only is the show dark, but it uses a colour filter on the lens. It’s like an over-edited Instagram photo.

One thing I do like about the show is they kill off characters as soon as I start to get tired of them. It’s like a “choose your own adventure” show, except they’re reading my mind. I appreciate that level of customer service.

All lighting jokes aside, I highly recommend this show. A new problem presents itself every two minutes, which makes every episode interesting and prevents you from falling asleep during important parts.

Also, if you ever wanted to learn how to launder money, this show will provide you with everything you need to know. I can only imagine how many people have moved to the Ozarks to carry out the plot of this show.

Here’s hoping they stocked up on light bulbs.

Have you watched Ozark yet? Thought about it? Thought twice about it after reading this post? Should Paul and I do more collab posts in the future?

12 comments

    • Now that you supply that picture of Jason Bateman and Nathan Fillion next to each other, they kind of look the same… like through the eyes and maybe the nose. But knowing what they look like separately, I didn’t really see what Paul was seeing haha.

      Don’t let the lighting discourage you from watching the show. At least you know what you’re getting yourself into haha.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This is so fun, you should def do more collabs! Also, I will vote no to the Nathan Fillion/Jason Bateman lookalike question. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen them both in so much and have them as distinctly different people in my mind, but I think they do not look alike at all, haha.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you—I’m glad I have someone on the “no” side of the whole Fillion/Bateman thing haha. Put side by side, they kind of look alike, through the eyes, but to say it out of the blue, I don’t see it. (Sorry Paul.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well this must be a pretty darn good show if you guys still recommend it after all the lighting complaints. I honestly don’t think I’d be able to watch it at all! How fun that you two collaborated. 🙂 Always interesting to hear two different opinions on the same thing!

    Liked by 2 people

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