So I have just stopped watching the new Netflix series Ozark. “Why’s that?” you ask. Well apart from how quickly it went from moderately interesting premise with some good actors to turd on a stick, it was for the same reason I have stopped watching numerous dramatic series over the last year. Let me 'splain…
A story has a natural beginning, middle and end. It has direction and resolution, as do the various sub-plots and character relationships it contains. Thus, one delights in a good film or well-written book or, on rare occasions, a good dramatic series. A good example of the latter would be Ripper Street, a superior series whose poignant and satisfactory conclusion I recently watched.
More commonly, though, since all Hollywood wants is as many seasons and episodes as possible, they employ the trick–particularly common now in the era of higher quality dramas on Netflix and elsewhere–of drawing you in with the promise of a great series (great actors, atmosphere, seemingly unusual story lines), and by the time you realize they have no intention of ever allowing any resolution of anything, and will simply drag it all out with one meandering story line after another until the series gets cancelled, you’re hooked.
Now I have gotten a bit more savvy about this. As I say, in recent months I’ve stopped watching several series at this moment of realization; but I also tell myself each time that I “won’t get fooled again.” Ha. I get fooled again, alright. Let me tell you. As evidence, I give you Ozark. I like Jason Bateman, and I like dark, atmospheric dramas where some guy is running from a drug cartel 'cause he ate all their pork rinds, but let me tell you, Ozark will lead you down the garden path. Yep. Right down that path.
I’ve given up on a few series just because they end up going nowhere forever. Orange is the New Black is one of the latest ones I’ve given up. There are just so many things you can do in a prison before you run out of ideas. I also gave up on Weeds and The 100. It’s quite liberating once you give them up!
I totally agree. It’s fine to have running storylines in serial dramas like weekly crime shows, but when the show is setup as a standalone story, it needs to have resolution. Fargo is good like that. Many BBC shows also do it well, where the series is just one season or each season is a single story.
I’m reluctant to watch many network shows for exactly this reason. I might find the initial premise interesting, but I know they’ll just drag it out until the viewers get bored and the show gets cancelled.
I think the complaint, and I’ve made a similar one, is that the story wasn’t tied up. The British shows tend to follow the characters for a clearly defined arc and wrap things up. They do another season if they come up with another story.
US shows seem to set up a story arc and then - if it turns out to be popular or if they just hope it will be- drag the story out indefinitely, using more improbable, unrealistic antics. The irony is that typically the show goes under anyway, when the audience realizes that Lucy has once again snatched the football away.
One of the more annoying examples for me was “My Name Is Earl.” Earl had a clearly defined story set up (his list) and I’d have happily followed him on the road to enlightenment. But when it became a hit, it went off the rails and seemed to no longer care about that story and became just another wacky sitcom. I dropped it, like about half the audience, and it abruptly ended, leaving the audience and producers unsatisfied. Hell, I think only Jaime Pressly walked out of the wreckage with anything (an Emmy).
Anyone seen the Turkish remake, btw (“My Name is Vangelis”)
This is what they learned from the soaps. Do you have any idea how LONG some of those have been running?
Some years ago, I left home to go to college. The day I left, grandma was watching Days of Our Lives. Four years later, I returned with diploma in hand. Grandma was watching Days of Our Lives.
The same actors were in the same room having pretty much the same conversation as they were the day I left.
I detest soap operas, and any TV series that wants to become one.
I watched a few episodes of season one, and it was clear to me that the writers didn’t have a direction or a resolution in mind, they were just making it up as they went along. So I stopped watching. I was a little surprised years later when the series ended that anyone was upset by the lack of a satisfying conclusion.
Oh man, I never considered for a moment that they didn’t have an explanation for all that stuff, not until around season 3 or 4. You don’t DO THAT with a story, after all! You don’t introduce smoke monsters and a polar bear on a tropical island without knowing why they are there!
Except, some people do.
LOST taught me a lesson, and it didn’t help that I was watching HEROES around the same time. I don’t watch NEARLY as much TV as I used to.
…Lost co-show runner Damon Lindelof’s next TV series the Leftovers (show-runner with Tom Perrotta) demonstrated that Damon had learnt his lesson. (Even though I personally loved Lost, even the finale, I understood the criticisms.) It was a brilliant series, only three seasons, with a clear beginning, middle, and a perfect ending.
That’s been my fear of Ozark. I watched the first episode and I haven’t watched another. I really don’t have the energy for a moody, brooding story with no direction. Having an anti-hero and half an idea isn’t enough. With the rush for everyone to put on prestige dramas, the quality is declining.
Twin Peaks used to be the primary example of this sort of thing (back in the day), but, indeed, Lost has rightfully assumed the mantle.
In the original Twin Peaks, the writers never wanted to solve the murder–the murder was just the MacGuffin–the show was about the characters and their interactions. This was not what the viewing audience was looking for, at the time.
Broadchurch handles this same general idea really well. Each season, the crimes are, in some way, solved/resolved, but, at the same time, that was never really what the show was about. Each new season, they continue the character’s story arcs, but start with a new crime to drive the plot and stir things up and allow them to bring in new characters and let others fade out. (On a side note that is, in fact, in a side note, Broadchurch is about to, in retrospect, feature not one but two Doctor [Who]s in about every episode of its first three seasons).
Back to the original discussion–
Ozark had a few things that I did not enjoy, but I was satisfied with the last episode. I know where the OP is coming from on the major reset, but, to me, it was a fitting ending that had been built to the entire series.
To me, the main story was about family, and how the Byrde family started out living this wealthy, entitled, suburban life which they thought was the definition of the perfect family (this is going back to before the series started, as shown in flashbacks–when the series starts, things had already started going south). Then things hit the fan. Then the Byrde family disintegrated. Eventually, even the parents realized that harping on the bit about that they were a family and needed to stick together sounded stupid, because they weren’t.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the lake (metaphor, maybe), was the Langmore family, who all did stick together and love and accept each other even knowing the full truth about each other, but whose lives were a wreck.
So the series was about two families. Who, over time, went in opposite directions.
The fulcrums for this shift were the two teen girls–Charlotte and June. Both, over time, and especially as the series went deep, shifted their families towards each other.
In the end, both teens were willing to abandon their past and shift each of their families towards each other.
There was the one that was a true, accepting, bonded family that knew they had to stick together, but were also a bunch of poor, under-educated, violent, blue-collar criminal rednecks who society regarded as trash. (For some good reasons).
The other family was distant, their roles were based on lies, and had few real ties and each felt that they had an absolute right to do their own thing regardless, but were also wealthy, educated, physically non-violent, white-collar criminal elites, who society regarded as outstanding, which was hammered home in their interactions with the sheriff.
So the series ends with a potentially combined Byrde-Langmore extended family, starting new, in a dangerous, but potentially lucrative situation, in the same (pun intended) boat now instead of antagonists.
I thought the ending of this story was fine.
The second season would be about the differences between the new Byrde-Langmore family, and the established Snell family, and how all that works out.