‘Ozark’: How Wendy Bryde Parallels ‘Breaking Bad’ Character Walter White
While Breaking Bad and Ozark are two very different series, they both revolve around families caught up in drug cartels and the consequences that come with their associations. Additionally, many fans who loved Breaking Bad also enjoy Ozark and are making comparisons between the show’s characters. For example, several believe that Wendy Byrde’s story parallels Walter White’s.
Walter White on ‘Breaking Bad’
In Breaking Bad, high school chemistry teacher and father, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) received a positive advanced lung cancer diagnosis. However, with inadequate health insurance and a very pregnant wife, he could not afford treatment.
After refusing help from his ex-girlfriend and former colleague, now-married wealthy couple Gretchen and Elliot Schwartz (Jessica Hecht and Adam Godley), the teacher decided he would care for himself and his family by manufacturing methamphetamine.
During a ride-along drug bust with his DEA agent brother-in-law Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), he saw former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) escaping through a window. Therefore, he went to his house and threatened the local meth manufacturer to help him learn the trade.
Walter kept Jesse loyal to him through calculated manipulation, even forcing him to kill another meth scientist Gale Boetticher (David Costabile). Once his wife figured everything out, he forced her to stay with him, and she eventually began helping her husband by laundering his money for him.
Although Walt continually told himself and everyone around him that he was involved in the drug business for his family, he finally admitted he did it for himself.
Wendy Byrde on ‘Ozark’
The wife of financial adviser Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) and mother to their two children, Charlotte and Jonah (Sofia Hublitz and Skylar Gaertner), Wendy (Laura Linney) was introduced to the viewers cheating on her husband with Gary “Sugarwood” Silverberg (Bruce Altman).
Although she initially agreed to leave her family for him, Mexican drug cartel leader Del Rio killed him, forcing her to stay with the Byrdes and relocate to a small town in Missouri from Chicago, Illinois, for Marty to set up a larger laundering operation.
While she’s initially focused on getting her family settled and lets her husband handle everything, she slowly but surely began getting more involved, using her prior experience as a public relations operative.
Once their operation began expanding, Wendy became obsessed with the power and impulsively bought a funeral home as well as started ordering hits. She also went behind Marty’s back, who’s hesitant to expand their operation, and personally contacted the leader of the Navarro cartel to make business proposals.
Additionally, Wendy pushed for them to open a second casino, which caught the FBI’s attention, who came in and audited all the Byrde’s businesses. In the most recent season, she sacrificed her brother to the cartel after he went off his bipolar medication and proved himself a liability to them and their illegal dealings.
How Wendy Byrde parallels Walter White
While some fans of both Ozark and Breaking Bad tried to make a comparison between Marty and Ruth Langmore’s relationship and Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, one fan pointed out that Wendy has more similarities with Walt than Marty.
For example, she started as a “more passive character” who knew about her husband’s dealings but remained mostly separate from him. As the show progresses, she becomes more involved.
Wendy starts to “see herself as an equal to Marty” as she makes enormous decisions without telling him and even contacts Navarro, “something not even Marty does.” Wendy also evolved from having an affair and burning down Darlene’s poppy field to blackmailing politically connected Charles Wilkes and killing Cade as well as her own brother.
Similarly to Walt, they’ve both “evolved from someone who’s more of a passive character to someone taking charge of their own fate.” Both characters also attempt to justify their actions by claiming it’s “for the sake of their family” when “in reality, it’s for their own ego, and it’s hurting people around them.”
Additionally, the two become “more and more evil and immoral as they progress through the show.” Ozark is available to stream on Netflix.