Thursday, August 25, 2022



Recently I changed cell phone coverage from Verizon to T-Mobile. With my T-Mobile account comes a free subscription to Netflix. I have never used streaming services and simply watched what was available on cable (with no premium channels, btw). Well, it is safe to say that this Johnny-come-lately has leap frogged into this streaming service. I can watch what I want to watch, when I want to watch it and binge when I have time to do so and in retirement there is more time to do it!

There are a lot of dramas that I have caught up on and the English ones are great. But in the past 10 days, due to bad weather and the fact that I love crime dramas, I have binged on all four seasons of Ozark which is about 44 episodes, in ten days. Is there a streaming services anonymous?

Let me say, that Ozark (which was actually filmed in Georgia, Lake Allatoona above Atlanta where I went with my family frequently in the late 50’s and other Georgia locations like Savannah’s River Front, but all meant to be the Ozarks) is wonderfully written and acted and over the course of the show there is great character development.

But, but, but—the language is fowl, the worst I have ever heard in a movie and the Lord’s name is taken in vain in the most despicable ways possible, all completely unnecessary for the show except to show the realism of the life depicted. The violence is horrible and people are killed in horrible ways and their bodies disposed, not given a Christian burial! This show is about organized crime the the horrors of the Mexican cartels. 

All the characters, are deeply flawed, not just sinners, most are corrupt, pathological and serial murderers. 

What a great show! What is there not to like? I feel like I need to go to confession for liking it and watching it, but I was and am addicted to it. Why?

It’s a moral play and the writers write the play with sin, corruption and evil, not to mention mental illness. In the last couple of seasons a priest enters who is corrupt himself but a moral voice nonetheless. He is a Pope Francis priest providing a field hospital for the head of the Mexican cartel, a ruthless man, but who goes to Church and confession frequently. And the priest, a kind of God-figure in the midst of this corruption, says he loves the cartel boss (like God loves all of us unconditionally). 

Both Protestantism and Catholicism are depicted in a somewhat positive way but not really, since everyone is corrupt or shallow. 

The two main characters, a husband and wife, are guilty of every moral evil and corruption, especially the seven deadly sins. The wife more so than the husband. He, at least, seems guilt ridden and wanting to turn his life around. 

The series ends without justice and one presumes that it all continues, maybe for a theatrical film or another sequel series? 

I am more concerned about all who participated in this production that they promote the very thing they depict and bring no moral resolution to the the series. There is corruption in the production and contributes to the growing corruption of individuals and society especially the “nones” who are eclipsing those with religion and a moral compass. 

But what a great series!


rcg said...

Haven’t seen it, but sounds like Italian opera, Japanese cinema, Old Time music themes, or any other wholesome forms of entertainment or performing arts. 😂

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

RCG, I was addicted to it and still repelled because of the violence and the fact that everyone, except those slaughtered, got away with what they were doing, but slaughter seem to be some modicum of justice. When Hollywood had a moral code imposed upon them, the bad guy could never win, there had to be justice of some kind. So if a character murdered someone, at the end of the film he did not get away with it. Not so with this mini series. But I love how it was made, where it was made, the writing and the acting as well as the actors. I loved the technical aspect and would have loved being on set in the various Georgia locations, downtown Atlanta substituting for Chicago. The language though did not need to be so graphic. Is it art imitating life or art influencing life. A bit of both. But I did not like the final scene. It was very Sopranos. It came out of the blue, as much in the series. But no moral resolution.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

BTW, John Boy of the Walton's played the father of the wife/mother. I did not recognize him until several episodes into the scenes with him. Due to makeup, age and suburb acting, he was unrecognizable as John Boy. WOW, he gave a great performance as a self-righteous religious nut but with his own peccadilloes. He attempts to take his two grandchildren away from their corrupt parents, but his motivation is to get even with his daughter which was quite dysfunctional since childhood...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

One last comment has to do with the actress who plays the lawyer for the cartel leader, she gets shot in the head in a shocking scene in the video I post. I was trying to figure out where she was from when listening to her, only to find out that she is English with an English accent. How does an Englishman suppress their natural accent and try to use an American non-descript mid west accent and in scenes with a lot of dialogue. That kind of thing fascinates me.

Thomas Garrett said...

Father, I completely concur about the horrid language. When I grew up I never ONCE heard either of my parents use certain words (the big one that begins with "F" comes to mind), although they did cuss a lot (G.D. it, S.O.B., S-word for excrement, etc).

Bad language has always been around, as we can see from a number of historical sources. However, I think it is far more pervasive today and that is evidenced by the fact that small children are using this kind of language and no one does anything about it. (Remember those "Deport Racism" ads against Donald Trump with Hispanic kids joyfully emptying their little potty-mouths?). When I as a kid, the "F" word was the worst possible word one could use and I think that was for could reason. It's origins actually go back to an old English word that meant "to poke". So to take the most intimate act between a man and a woman, the act where human life begins and reduce it to "poking" is pretty offensive. As I recall the "N" word was always offensive, but nothing near the level of the F word. Other words, like "faggot" were also considered impolite, but I can remember kids at my school calling each other that name hundreds of times a day.

So what's changed? Now the "N" word is the most horrifying, social-expulsion inducing word in existence (unless you are black) and "faggot" is nearly as reviled, probably because of the enforced compassion of homosexuals as a specially privileged minority. The "F" word is almost harmless and mainstreamed--largely thanks to the growth of "Hip Hop" culture.

And our TV shows and movies? Ugh, where to begin...

I remember reading a post where another reader believed that historical shows & films were filled with foul language to "revise" our consciousness of history--make us believe that people were always as crude and vulgar as we are today. While I concede that foul language has always been with us, I am also convinced it was not prevalent or nearly as common as today. We are on our way down.

Finally, if you enjoy serialized TV shows about moral compromises, crime and drug cartels, I would suggest Breaking Bad and its superior companion, Better Call Saul. Both shows play incredible tricks on the viewer, getting us to see life through the eyes of people who do bad things, but in the end, the people who do these things pay for it. There's far less cussing too.

Aside from that, most TV is just $#&@!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Great comment and yes I will watch those, but pray that I stop addictive binging! That is completely new to me by my immature fascination with streaming!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

TG, also the child actors, the two children of the married couple are exposed to all this vile language in the filming of their parts. The boy was 12 when the series began and 16 when it ended. I wonder how his actual parents felt about all the gratuitous violence and the horrible language which the kids used too. The daughter was 16 when it began and 21 when it ended.
And another barely legal young man enters a sexual relationship leading to marriage to the sociopath woman who is old enough to be his grandmother. The love scenes between these two was troubling and not so much form the plot’s point of view, but that this young man was asked to perform it!

rcg said...

Fr. McDonald, it sounds like my confession would be boring compared ro most of this. Are you available Friday?

Mark said...

Yes, there is a great deal available on Netflix. You can understand how it helped people get through the dark days of the pandemic.

Speaking of dark, I tried watching House of Cards earlier this year, but stopped after a few episodes. I might be cynical about our current politics but, my goodness, House of Cards is truly bleak. At the opposite extreme, and much more uplifting, is Designated Survivor. One doesn’t have to agree with the politics of the man to like his character!

I am currently watching The Last Kingdom but am only part way through the first season. It is set in the time of King Alfred and is of particular interest as I was born and raised just a few miles outside of Winchester, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Wessex. In fact, there is a very prominent statue of King Alfred in the city (as well as a magnificent cathedral, which is always a place of pilgrimage for me whenever I am back in England despite its “touristification”).