Ozark (Netflix)

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by dmiller458, Jul 22, 2017.

  1. kwadguy

    kwadguy Senior Member

    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    Yup, the actor did a FANTASTIC job of playing a bipolar person. And the crushing effect of a bipolar person on familial dynamics was also well presented. You might not like the character, but it was quite well done. And I thought his character was presented in a quite sympathetic light: When he wasn't in his mania phase, he was a good person.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2020
  2. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Senior Member

    Ben was an uncomfortable character in an uncomfortable show. I happen to love the show, and I thought the actor playing Ben did a great job. I'm guessing that most, if not all actors want you to come away with emotion, often loving or hating the characters they play. I would think the last thing they'd want is for you come away feeling apathetic towards the character they play. A lot of folks here seem to have a strong opinion of the Ben character. Success.
     
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  3. GodShifter

    GodShifter Low Key Faded Bro®

    Location:
    Dallas, TX, USA
    Very well said. I essentially conveyed the same sentiment earlier in the thread, but with not near the elegance you described the horrible mental illness that is Bipolar disorder. It’s tragic to see someone with it and heartbreaking to deal with a loved one who has it.
     
  4. MrGrumpy

    MrGrumpy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Burbank
    Wallowing in other people's misery.

    Maybe the next season can revolve around Marty's toenail fungus and Charlotte's chlamydia. This is is a fictional crime thriller, not ER. The seasonlong focus on Ben for some PC feelgood moment almost ruined the season. If I want educational, I'll watch Sesame Street.

    To borrow the title from a hipster 90s 'zine, "Ben is Dead" - or he'd better be.
     
  5. NettleBed

    NettleBed Forum Resident

    Location:
    new york city
    Could be, but I think there are people who genuinely liked him, which I really don't get.

    Interestingly, Ben's failures as a compelling character run counter to where I think some of the weaknesses of the show had been. For example, I think that the show was doing a pretty good job of "storyboarding," and writing; at least in Season 1. People weren't making decisions that were terrible, but for their necessity to move the plot along. However, that tightness started to fray a bit in Season 2 and fell apart completely in Season 3, with the Ben problem being at the center of it all.

    Based on the show's logic and the existing development of the characters, it made virtually no sense for either Marty or his wife to allow Ben to spend more than a day or two at their place.
    Yes, Marty makes an attempt (of pretty limited forcefulness) to get him out after a week or whatever that was, but then he throws his hands up when it doesn't work.

    For a pair of people who were so calculating about everything they said or did, having Ben there made no sense at all, and given the show's great willingness to kill off characters, Ben's death could be seen coming a mile away. I was quite looking forward to it, and felt very much cheated by the lack of kill shot. Instead the show acted like we were really supposed to care about his death, and then acted like offing him was a choice that maybe didn't have to be made. The way I see it, he was given the opportunity to be in a mental institution. Which he needed to be in, given his condition and refusal to go back on his meds. The story about how much he hated the hospital was - by the way - a complete affront to how hugely such places have changed over the last 40-50 years. From a fictional narrative perspective, while it might be believable that one particular such hospital might not be a great place to be, painting them all with such a broad brush was ridiculous. They are mostly benign places where people with problems like severe bi--polar disorder can be helped. There was no reason for Ben to have the reaction to going there that he did, or for anybody else to take these fears seriously. And why couldn't he just agree to take the meds? I have no idea. That angle wasn't really pursued much by the Byrds - it seemed like the only options were the mental hospital or death, and considering the great lengths the writers went to have Ben screw things up for the Byrds, I don't really understand why killing him was portrayed as such a difficult decision. He *had* to go. But given that this was the likely outcome from the moment it was known that he went off his meds, it boggles the mind that the Byrds didn't deal with this more aggressively and conclusively at that time. Well, it's to shoehorn the stupid plotline into the show; I get it. But maybe if they wanted to have a more sympathetic character appear on the show, they could have given better thought to creating him/her. Because the Ben experiment was a total fail.
     
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  6. NettleBed

    NettleBed Forum Resident

    Location:
    new york city
    Yes, absolutely. One of my oldest and best friends (whom I lived with as an adult in my late 20s and early 30s) is severely bi-polar. I've endured numerous manic episodes (and a couple of depressions) that resulted from failure to stay on meds. I've literally seen it all, from OCD behavior to hallucinations resembling psychotic episodes, the suicide attempts, and the weekend visits at a couple of hospitals where they don't let you in with a belt or shoelaces.

    Ben sucked. His character was poorly drawn, the Byrds' reactions to him unbelievable after all they'd already been through, and the depictions of being institutionalized were unfair to the institutions who exist to help those people. I was happy to see him go and I only wish I could have watched him bleed.
     
  7. MrGrumpy

    MrGrumpy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Burbank
    Nailed it.
     
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  8. kwadguy

    kwadguy Senior Member

    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    I disagree. This is Wendy's brother. Marty didn't want him there. Wendy didn't, either, but she was conflicted by familial bonds. Perfectly believable.

    And mental hospitals are soft lighting, soft landing places. Someone suffering from severe mania is probably better off at one of these places. But that doesn't mean that that person will see it that way. In a manic phase, logic is often the first thing to go. Again, both Ben's decision to go off his meds and his trauma at being forcibly admitted to the hospital are totally true to life. You say you have a bipolar friend, but if you find it unbelievable that a bipolar person will go off their meds, then you don't really understand the bipolar life. Bipolar/schizophrenic/etc. patients who are compliant outside of a hospital setting over a long period are the exception, not the rule. Loved ones often find it difficult, if not entirely impossible, to force compliance.
     
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  9. NettleBed

    NettleBed Forum Resident

    Location:
    new york city
    Yeah - he went off his meds 6 or 7 times. That's what led to the episodes. And then the eventual commissions to facilities. Where he eventually got back to taking them and then was released. My dislike for the Ben storyline is heightened precisely *because* I'm so familiar with what happens. As soon as it was evident that Ben wasn't taking his meds, this should have had huge alarm bells ringing in the Byrd household, because from that moment on virtually everything that the manic-afflicted person will do is fairly predictable (not meaning predictable for all such people in general, but predictable based on what the particular person has done every other time they go off their meds). In other words, there was never even a small possibility that he wouldn't ruin things. Combine that with his romantic involvement with the ONLY OTHER PERSON IN TOWN who the Byrds trust... I mean, come on. And the story moved towards this dichotomy between death and being forever in the hospital. under extreme distress. which was ridiculous. Even if the distress is purely imagined, it goes away after the meds kick in, which is not all that long for psychotics. For even extreme bi-polar cases, that can be just a few weeks. Yeah, I get that they needed something to move the story along, but this was just a horrible failure, IMO.

    And they did this supposedly to put some "heart" in the show and give a character who is more sympathetic, but IMO they already have one in Ruth, if they would just give her more to do. That's the best acting job on the show by far, IMO, and easily the best, most nuanced female character. She hadn't had a romantic involvement in the whole first 2 seasons and the best they can do for her when they do is Ben? For shame!
     
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  10. hbbfam

    hbbfam Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chandler,AZ
    The scene of his "inability" with Ruth with him blaming the meds. The scene in the hospital was also powerful. These shows need some inventing to keep our attention. After three seasons, the plot needed some energy, and Ben provided that. I have no doubt that to someone suffering from, or being close to someone, with bipolar disorder, Ben's depiction was to some degree lacking. Frankly I was far more traumatized by Darlene's modification of Frank,Jr. anatomy.
     
  11. Comet01

    Comet01 Forum Resident

    For me, the character of Ben was more than just a monkey wrench thrown into the Byrd's life.

    Unlike most of Ozark's main characters, Ben is a person with an intact sense of morality. This incredibly flawed character, with only a tenuous grip on sanity, can clearly see that the Byrds were enmeshed in a world of depravity.

    Much like the child in The Emperor's New Clothes, Ben spoke the truth that everyone else chose not to acknowledge.

    Yes, Ben had mental issues. However, he possessed a sense of humanity that was lacking in all of the "normal" characters on the show.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2020
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  12. kwadguy

    kwadguy Senior Member

    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    Smart observation.
     
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  13. GodShifter

    GodShifter Low Key Faded Bro®

    Location:
    Dallas, TX, USA
    Exactly. We see this when we are introduced to his character when he's a substitute teacher. A girl is made fun of and he gets angry and throws everyone's phones into a wood chipper or whatever it was. He has an understanding of being a victim and a good moral compass despite his obvious mental problems.

    As far as bipolar people going off their meds? It happens all the time due to them hating the fact that they feel nothing; no highs, no lows. The movie Mr. Jones with Richard Gere is a good example of this. Not a great movie, but it does explore the bipolar personality pretty well in places.
     
  14. NettleBed

    NettleBed Forum Resident

    Location:
    new york city
    Well, yeah, but literally anybody coming in from the outside could have provided this perspective. We didn't need the awkwardly-written, logically tiresome, ultimately incredibly annoying Ben being the locus of it.

    One of the criticisms of the show since the start had been its own inflated sense of importance, and I thought that this had been overstated in Seasons 1 and 2; or at least, it didn't interfere with my ability to enjoy the show on a certain level. But it did in Season 3. Yeah, it was a good idea to have a story about an outsider coming in and putting some relief onto the twisted reality that the Byrdes had created for themselves. But writing it in the way that they did was insulting the audience (not to mention bi-polar people).
     
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  15. kanakaris

    kanakaris Forum Resident

    Location:
    Belgium
  16. kwadguy

    kwadguy Senior Member

    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
  17. hybrid_77

    hybrid_77 Forum Resident

    Location:
    New England
    I think it's good that they're going out on top instead of dragging it out.

    “A super sized season means super sized problems for the Byrdes,” Bateman said in a statement. “I’m excited to end with a bang(s).”
     
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  18. rockclassics

    rockclassics Forum Resident

    Location:
    Arkansas, USA

    That quote sounds like it may not be good for the Byrde family.
     
  19. MrGrumpy

    MrGrumpy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Burbank
    In other words, yet another season of one step forward, two steps back.
     
  20. George Co-Stanza

    George Co-Stanza Forum Resident

    Location:
    America
    In two parts, so basically two more seasons, which will be 7 episodes each.

    Good move, IMO. It feels like it's reaching its natural conclusion; no need to drag it out for longer than it needs to be.
     
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  21. cdash99

    cdash99 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Mass
    So log as the ending is less ambiguous than The Sopranos.
     
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  22. trd

    trd Forum Resident

    Location:
    Berkeley
    No, it couldn’t have been just anybody. It wasn’t just that his outsider status provided a different perspective; it was the layering of mental illness on top of that which makes his character so powerful. He could barely function at times but he still retained moral clarity.
     
  23. NettleBed

    NettleBed Forum Resident

    Location:
    new york city
    He barely ever reached the point where he "barely functioned" and this aspect of him was handled so sloppily, it was embarrassing. An awful, loathsome character. I'm so glad he's dead.
     
  24. Johnny66

    Johnny66 Laird of Boleskine

    Location:
    Australia.
    Because Ben, beyond being a character in his own right, becomes a barometer of where Marty and Wendy's relationship happens to be at this point - and a marker of its increasingly destructive dynamic. Importantly, it's suggested that Marty, whilst initially attempting to evict Ben, recognises that allowing his predictable trajectory to play itself out will ultimately force Wendy's hand - and push her to yet another stage of depravity (and culpability). The season opens with Helen being tortured in order to elicit just how much her ex-husband knows about the Cartel, and the ensuing episodes track that thread obviously with an eye upon Marty and Wendy, too. How far is Wendy willing to go? What is the limit of her endurance? What will she sacrifice for Marty? The 'couples counselling' scenes this season not only play out for (ultimately dark) comic effect, but ironically foreshadow the 'reconciliation' of Marty and Wendy in the very last shot of the season: both bound, literally and figuratively, in blood - until death do them part.
     
  25. Barnabas Collins

    Barnabas Collins Forum Resident

    Location:
    NH
    I'm loving this season of Ozark. I still have a couple more episodes to go. It's too bad we won't see the final season until 2022; depending on how the world plays out.
     

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