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(Spoiler alert: Please do not read ahead unless you’ve seen “Ozark” Season 1)
Anyone who watches “Ozark” knows it’s not a show that will guide your moral compass. Well, stars Jason Bateman, Laura Linney and Julia Garner at least hope you aren’t looking to their characters as role models.
The Netflix drama — which returns for Season 2 Friday — stars Linney as Wendy, the wife of Bateman’s Marty Byrde, a Chicago financial adviser who makes a single bad decision that leads him and his family down an increasingly dark and dubious path of Mexican drug cartel money laundering, murder and betrayal in the Ozarks. Wendy and Marty stand by each other, at all costs, as they all make some bad, bad choices.
“Wendy is not a great mother. I mean she’s just not. She’s just not,” Linney told TheWrap of her character, during the Television Critics Association press tour last month.
“But to be fair, I don’t think any of the characters are great. Even Ruth, Marty, Wendy, anybody on this show,” Garner, who plays Ruth, the fowl-mouthed 19-year-old badass who gets mixed up with the Byrdes, added.
“I mean, if you’re looking to ‘Ozark’ to feel good and soft and cozy, it is not the show to visit,” Linney said. “It’s not a show that is going to … it’s not ‘Little House on the Prairie,” Garner continued, with both actresses laughing.
But to give the characters some credit, Bateman thinks they are at least trying to get better going into the second season of the Emmy-nominated series. Well, Marty is at least trying to keep his family together, while also maintaining his drug money laundering biz. And after the events of last season, that’s going be pretty tough for the Byrdes, as they need to start being more careful when covering up their dirty cash.
“Hopefully [fans are] witnessing the efforts the characters are making to not repeat some of the old mistakes or in an effort to double down they are trying to get themselves out of it and find safer ground for the family,” Bateman — who stars in, executive produces and directs the series — said. “So hopefully they are invested in watching us try to become better, because, certainly, mistakes were made.”
Here’s Netflix’s official description for Season 2:
With Del out, the crime syndicate sends their ruthless attorney Helen Pierce to town to shake things up just as the Byrdes are finally settling in. Marty and Wendy struggle to balance their family interests amid the escalating dangers presented by their partnerships with the power-hungry Snells, the cartel and their new deputy, Ruth Langmore, whose father Cade has been released from prison. The stakes are even higher than before and the Byrdes soon realize they have to go all in before they can get out.
“What’s interesting are the moral and ethical dilemmas that these characters find themselves in, and the choices that they do make — whether they make them consciously or unconsciously,” Linney said. “So I think that’s really, you know, what it is. So I just try and play it as honestly as I possibly can, and I don’t judge her.”
“And she’s not pretty,” Linney added. “She ain’t pretty. And I don’t think any of us are trying to point to the show as to, ‘this is how people should behave.’”
Linney said that because viewers enjoyed following these not-so-great characters’ journey in Season 1, they are looking to go darker in their sophomore year.
“I think because the first season went well, they seemed to like it, so the invitation to stick with us, I think they’re gonna jump in deeper. And I think that gave us permission to go deeper,” she said. “There is a sense that they were hungry for more. So we want to satisfy that and go as deep and as treacherously as we possibly can.”
“And not give them the same thing,” Bateman added. “The writers set the table perfectly in the first year. In a second year, things could collide and braid in an interesting way and people are rewarded for staying on the train with us. That being said, there was effort to create a sequel as opposed to a second season.”
“For my money, it’s even better than what they had in Season 1,” he added. OK, game on, Byrdes.
“Ozark” Season 2 drops Friday on Netflix.