There are two schools of thought about TV right now. Some people are complaining that there is literally TOO MUCH good television to watch, whilst others consider this the golden age of television. The moment when TV finally beat movies as the ideal form of entertainment. The people who disagree about the Golden Age thing, I tend to ask them how many episodes of Game of Thrones they MISSED on Sundays. Come to find out, most usually say none which proves, it is, INDEED, a golden age for television. Between horror shows and sci fi tv shows and drama and straight-up comedy, we have never had a more ripe tree to pluck fruit from.
Netflix is big with this by introducing phenomenal new shows on the regular. This last month my addiction has been the show Ozark that popped onto the Netflix with little mention in last few months but ended up dropping the jaws of everyone who saw it. As far as Netflix TV shows go, I personally think it is the best they’ve ever made (I don’t stand alone in this, and I do love me some Stranger Things and Master of None like everyone else).
Ozark IS the next Breaking Bad, there is no question about it (this will be further expanded upon in next week’s piece as well so stay tuned), but the show forces you to binge watch so as soon as you find it, seems the show is over in a day. It leaves you exhausted and in silent awe, but it also leaves you with an Ozark sized hole that needs to get filled (that doesn’t sound right) and I know the 12 TV shows that will help close that aching void in your heart and soul since you finished season one of Ozark.
Also, I know this is a list of TV shows like Ozark, but you need to understand, this does not mean they are going to be copies of that show. Things that make Ozark work are:
- Great Pacing
- Perfect Character Arcs
- Characters You Genuinely Love and Some You Genuinely Despise
- Great Music
- Many Cliffhanger and Watercooler Moments
So in that sense, all the shows picked fall into all the bullet points needed to fill the Ozark TV show void without being Ozark ripoffs or spinoffs.
1. Peaky Blinders
Peaky Blinders is a show about a local gang and the influence they had in Birmingham in the early part of the 20th century. The best part is, the Peaky Blinders were real people and this show is based on their actual area of influence and just how hardcore and ruthless they were at the time. Also, the simple fact that Cillian Murphy leads this show and Tom Hardy is in it (and steals every damn scene he is in) should be enough to get any apprehensive people on board.
Peaky Blinders is a glimpse into a grueling life we will never know, but damn if it doesn’t make for amazing TV.
Narcos is a show about Pablo Escobar and his rise to power in the cocaine business. It also shows us how to us, he was a bad guy, but to his home country, he was a hero.
Granted, the man did many awful things (cannot stress AWFUL here enough) but he took care of his people, locally, and that is one aspect we never got about the man. I mean, last thing you want to do is romanticize a bad guy, but we all know how things ended for this man so it’s not like he won’t get his eventually.
But in the meantime, it makes for truly compelling TV that trudges into some very dark places (much like Ozark).
3. Luke Cage
You may not think a show about an African-American Marvel superhero would fit the bill here, but Luke Cage does because everything that makes this show work is the fact that it follows no rules. This show takes us along on the journey of one man as he slowly figures out he has the means to accomplish great things for Harlem and his community, but it means knowing he will never have a normal life again, and you can see that inner-battle always present in the show’s lead.
Also, I know some people think Marvel Netflix shows might be for “kids” or be lame, but they couldn’t be more wrong here. there is ANOTHER ONE further down on the list that proves that these shows hold enough weight and are more about the vulnerable aspects of the people behind the heroes then the heroes themselves.
Plus, Wu-Tang in the soundtrack for instant win.
Think of Bloodline a lot like Ozark. A family needs to come together during a time of duress but more demons surface than they would’ve thought and that only stacks more drama on their drama. The funny thing is, a lot of great TV shows on Netflix (again, like Ozark) are about just how f*cked up pretty much all families are right now. No one has a normal family anymore. No closet is without its skeletons, and the Rayburns on Bloodline are no exception to that rule.
My single complaint is the way they wrapped up the show, pacing was good, but they got the cancellation notice (due to costs for each episode, not ratings) and crammed what felt like 5 seasons worth of story into a final season that does not work as well as the first.
Still, very Ozark like and very much worth the time.
5. House of Cards
We all know you are already realistically watching this Kevin Spacey Netflix original about the “President.” What is funny is, when the show came out we had a normal president. Now the show is out during Trump’s run, and suddenly a show that opens with the president killing a puppy and it makes way more sense.
All kidding aside (wasn’t kidding but hafta say that now so I don’t get dragged behind a four-wheeler), the WHOLE reason to watch this show is to watch Spacey as Frank Underwood, the shadiest man of all time, but a man who it makes sense would land in charge.
Imagine if Trump were actually intelligent enough and swindley without the people knowing and you have House of Cards.
Okay, so how does a dramedy about female wrestlers from the 80’s fill the Ozark void that was mentioned prior? Easy, it distracts and amuses. The show is fun, created by Orange is the New Black creator (and sharing MANY similarities to that show back when it was still good), GLOW focuses on the true life story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling female wrestling league that used to exist and play on Saturday nights after all other shows went off the air.
But ultimately, at the end of the day, the wrestlers end up being like a dysfunctional family, and that is where the Ozark familiarities begin and end. Still, Glow is worth watching for Marc Maron’s amazing turn once again playing what is essentially his miserable self.
7. Jessica Jones
I will stand behind the fact that, alcoholism and sexual promiscuity having NO bearing, Jessica Jones (another Marvel “superhero”) is one of the best written female characters on TV, ever. She has her flaws and her demons but she is not defined by them but rather, her ability to overcome them.
At times, unlikeable, and not always making the best decisions (I should totally eff this guy and not tell him I killed his wife by mistake kind of) but Krysten Ritter gives a stellar performance as a once-wounded woman you would NOT want to eff with.
This show is not about a former victim (which it deals with) but more, a genuine survivor and that is its draw.
8. The OA
Okay, this show might seem a bit ‘out there’ for some, but you stick with it a few episodes and you find yourself utterly engrossed in the main character, where she may have been, and what she has become (which we kind of find out but never have it fully validated).
Th OA is about a missing woman who reappears, but has changed greatly and seems to have a wisdom (and certain level of fear) inside her since her return. A big part of what makes this show work so well is how many unforeseen twists and turns it takes, so I am not going to delve into plot at all.
Just going to tell you as weird as it is (the dance moves?) you won’t stop watching this show until that (shocking) final scene at the end of the show’s only season so far. Intriguing stuff, for sure. Very original as well.
9. Better Call Saul
I say Ozark is the spiritual successor to Breaking Bad but that’s not fair when there actually IS a literal successor. Better Call Saul did the impossible by taking a minor character from the Breaking Bad universe and rewinding the WHOLE story so we can see how he ended up where he did (a strip mall).
Better Call Saul features Breaking Bad lawyer Saul Goodman (It’s All Good, Man) climbing his proverbial ladder from the ground up, hitting some massive speed bumps on the way that reintroduce us to Breaking Bad characters and some of their origin stories.
It’s one of the best shows on TV right now and the Saul character might be the best character evolution and arc we have ever seen. Bob Odenkirk kill sit, what else can we say?
Yes, it’s that good.
10. Dear White People
I know some people who got offended by the name of this (movie to) show. I stopped being friends with those people because the follow up, if you read the poster is:
You probably think this show is about you.
Genius. more of a call-out to racial issues, Dear White People is the kind of show that wakes people up to other cultures, how they live their lives, and by comparison, sometimes how we live ours. But you may sit down thinking you are watching a comedy, and by episode 5 you realize, heavy topics are being brought to light in meaningful and necessary ways, and that is just one of the things that makes the show both brave AND extremely watchable.
If you are offended by the name of this show, you are part of the problem. Someone has to tell you.
11. A Series of Unfortunate Events
A TV series based off the popular YA book series that was also a movie (that’s a lot to follow), everything about A Series of Unfortunate Events is exactly as the title implies. It is a show about a group of three orphans who are forced to live with a vile man who will do all he can to murder the kids and take their fortune. Hell, he even planned on marrying a 13 year old girl, so some of this stuff is, indeed, very unfortunate.
But (and you know I love me some butt)….
The show is gorgeous, the performances (especially Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf among MANY others) are outstanding, and the aesthetic of the overall show is like watching live theater with a limitless budget.
But seriously, watch it for Neil Patrick Harris’ performances alone, that sh*t is magical. And be careful, that opening theme song (sung by NPH himself) will lock itself in your head until the end of time.
Fargo is the best show on TV, period.
Each season is a different story, different cast, and each story is told to perfection. I don’t even feel like I need to say any more about this show. If you are not watching it (and Ozark), you must hate yourself.
Stop hating yourself, it’s not cool.