Not Even Jason Bateman Thinks ‘Ozark’ is in the Same League as ‘Breaking Bad’ — ‘That Show Can Never Be Touched’

Fans have been buzzing about the Netflix drama Ozark ever since the third season dropped in late March. The series really seems to be hitting its stride now, with complex storylines and stellar character development, especially the newest episodes.

The better-than-average season coupled with the subject matter of the show has some fans comparing Ozark to a show that many people consider the greatest drama of all time: Breaking Bad. But when asked what he thought of the parallels, even Jason Bateman was hesitant to put the two shows in the same league.

Jason Bateman
Jason Bateman | Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Jason Bateman has a lot of respect for ‘Breaking Bad’

While both Ozark and Breaking Bad are focused on a regular suburbanite dude who gets caught up in the seedy world of drug dealers, that’s essentially where the similarities end. Season 3 of Ozark revealed that if anyone is like Walter White, it’s Wendy, not Marty. But either way, the show is an entirely different journey that shouldn’t be judged against Breaking Bad.

Bateman claims the similarities between Ozark and Breaking Bad are coincidental. “We feel fortunate any time we hear that. That show can never be touched,” he said during a press tour before season 2. “We’re not trying to replicate or emulate anything they did narratively or aesthetically.”

 Marty Byrde can relate to Walter White

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Information is its own form of currency. #OzarkS3

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The idea for Breaking Bad came to Vince Gilligan while he was in the midst of a midlife crisis and dreaming up ways to make some quick cash. In that way, both shows exemplify how striving for money while compromising morals always leads to trouble.

“I think what [people making comparisons] might be referring to is a family you can relate to going through a set of decisions that are not very smart,” Bateman said.

“[Marty] is an ethically challenged middle-aged white guy not making great calls…they make this decision early on in Episode 8 of the first season and they’re paying the bill for that.”    

‘Ozark’ still has a long way to go to reach ‘Breaking Bad’ status

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More money. More problems.

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One advantage Ozark has over Breaking Bad is that they still have time to develop into a show worthy of the beloved AMC drama. And who knows — maybe they will. It just won’t be easy.

One reason Breaking Bad is so popular is that it tells a complete, specific story from the beginning. The moral decay of Walter White is a fascinating study of human nature at its absolute worst. It’s been described as a “morality story” with universal themes that remain relevant forever, like how the quest for power can corrupt.

“I knew Vince Gilligan was attempting to do something that has never been done on television before—to change a character completely from beginning to end,” Cranston told Esquire. “Television had always been about stasis, characters that you could rely on, that you know very well, and that are comforting in a major way, and he was attempting to upset the apple cart.”

How do we know ‘Breaking Bad’ is still the best show ever?

At the end of the day, the best show ever comes down to a matter of opinion. There will always be people who prefer Ozark, or Better Call Saul, or some other series to Breaking Bad, and that’s their decision.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that Breaking Bad is one of the most awarded shows ever with 234 nominations and 153 wins over 5 seasons, which at least substantiates the claims that it’s the greatest of all time. It was also entered into the Guinness Book of World Records as the “highest rated TV series” with 99/100 on MetaCritic.com.

Meanwhile, Ozark has 47 nominations and 8 wins in 3 seasons. They could conceivably reach Breaking Bad’s phenomenal heights — but it’ll take a lot of hard work.