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Ozark: A Netflix Thriller Starring an Accountant in a Multi-Cultural Setting
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Ozark: A Netflix Thriller Starring an Accountant i...

By: Teri Bernstein

 

 trailer of Netflix series from YouTube

 

Ozark's initial reviews described it as being less compelling than Breaking Bad. Thereforein the era of Too Much TV (Forbes), it did not get my attention right away. But a recommendation from a former student got me to check out the first episode. I was impressed by how much Ozark conveyed about accounting and the business relationship to crime. Also, I certainly did not expect a TV show to portray business relationships as vehicles for healing cultural divides.

 

The compassionate and complex way characters of all types are portrayed as they interact as businesspeople was a fresh and educational approach. City/rural, rich/poor, millennial/Gen X/Baby boomer, male/female, dishonest/straightforward, gay/straight, foreign-born/multi-generational resident, book-smart/street-smart, liberal/conservative, gun-smart/gun-ignorant, selfish/selfless, religious/non-religious: all find common ground in various business relationships. Different perspectives are portrayed with their own internal integrity. 

Anyone wanting to expand their business opportunities needs to understand those who are motivated by different goals than they themselves might be. This series, at least in its first season, has shown itself to be a painless way to learn about the needs and motivations of others--as well as provide a cautionary tale about the unintended consequences of stepping out of one's ethical comfort zone. 

 

Source: "Ozark: TV Review," by Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, July 17, 2017. 

 

Discussion:

  • Binge-watch the 10-episode first season. Summarize what you learned about money laundering. Why is money laundering considered an essential part of a large scale criminal business operation? 
  • How does the main character, Marty Byrde (played by Jason Bateman), exhibit good management skills in dealing with various individuals and groups that are different from him? What can be learned about doing business in a culture that is very different from the one that you are used to (big city vs. rural, in this case). Specifically address how, in episode 10,  he motivates individuals (the Snells and Del Rio) who otherwise would never be in business with each other (as Del Rio points out...). 
  • CPAs are sometimes recruited by the FBI. What specific skills would be useful in solving federal crimes? Read about the role of Frank Wilson in the prosecution of Al Capone, if you need some ideas. 
  • What was the first ethical "slip" that powered the story? What additional ethical slips followed?