Like most of you, our Netflix account has been getting a workout. After our home-cooked dinner is enjoyed, after our dishes are put away and the kitchen is gleaming, and after our Sudoku-Crossword hour has come and gone, it is binge time. Our usual pattern is to watch a pair of shows, something dramatic followed by something a little lighter to get us relaxed for bed. And lately, both of our shows have been sagas about families on the edge--but oh how different those families are!
Lots of you watch 'Ozark'. The Byrde family starts out innocent, or at least innocent enough. Marty is a Chicago financial manager, a real numbers whiz. Wendy uses her public relations skills for various politicians. But through the passage of 3 seasons, Marty and Wendy descend into the pit of Middle America hell, dragging daughter Charlotte and son Jonah down with them. Money laundering? Got it. Drug cartels and murders-for-hire? Lots of those. FBI agents with secrets of their own? Of course.
And if you think being someone's husband or someone's brother is enough to save you down in the Ozarks, as Tony Soprano once said, "Fuggedaboutit." Jersey mobsters have nothing on this batch of criminal masterminds and family f*ck-ups. And just for the fun of it the cinematography, especially on Season 2, is so dark that half of the time you can't tell what is going--you just have to guess that it is something nasty.
In contrast, I bet none of you watch 'Offspring." You probably have never heard of it...I'm not even sure how we discovered it, but we are in the middle of season 2. It's an Australian dramedy, also streaming on Netflix. Once again we meet a family, the Proudmans, a family with issues. Our protagonist is Nina a perky, thirty-something obstetrician who is as romantically incompetent as she is professionally efficient. Recently out of a literally explosive marriage she struggles with casual sex, love-hate relationships, and off-the-wall fantasies. And about her family...
Mom Geraldine and Dad Darcy have been on the verge of divorce for ages. They care deeply for each other but can't survive together. Sister Billie has a dark past, but we love her so much we want to see her have a brighter future with partner Mick. Younger brother Jimmy falls for every flaky girl he meets, pedaling through the Melbourne streets as the Proudman's gofer. Assorted hangers-on and baby mamas fill out the episodes. It gets so laughingly traumatic that our dear Nina flees from Melbourne to Baltimore for a few months. You really have to want to get away from it all to do that!
No one gets shot, no one gets poisoned, and the bombs explode harmlessly while paths get tangled and hearts get broken. And through it all, I know I would feel safer with the wacky Melburinians than the wicked Missourians. Nina, you can always bring your hips to me.
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