If you enjoy "Ozark," you should be watching "The Mosquito Coast."

The Apple TV+ series about a failing family on the run is an equally tight yet unique drama. 

Following the overwhelming popularity of Game of Thrones, there was a surge in demand for dark crime thrillers focusing on an average family devolving into crime, similar to how there was an increase in demand for mature fantasy series following the runaway success of Game of Thrones. Although Ozark attracted similarities to Breaking Bad at first, the Jason Bateman-led crime drama swiftly developed its own fan following and became one of Netflix's most-watched original shows ever. So, while fans wait for the fourth and final season, what should they be watching? 

Apple TV+'s The Mosquito Coast, which ended its first seven-episode run on June 4 and will return for a second season, is one show that could satisfy that hunger. The series follows off-the-grid inventor Allie Fox (Justin Theroux) as his secret involvement in an enigmatic cartel scheme forces his family to flee. It is based on the 1981 novel by Paul Theroux and the 1986 film starring Harrison Ford. Fox and his wife Margot (Melissa George) order their sassy teenage daughter Dina (Logan Polish) and younger son Charlie (Gabriel Bateman) to pack their belongings and flee their home to avoid authorities on a voyage to an unknown destination. 

The Mosquito Coast's first season is very much the beginning of a larger story. The first seven episodes of the show featured a gripping mystery that sets the tone for the rest of the season. It also delivers frightening violence at unexpected times, such as in the second episode's violent and gruesome confrontation. Regardless of the original source material's waning popularity, lovers of Ozark should pick The Mosquito Coast as their next binge. 

The Fox family's predicament is identical to that of the Byrdes in Ozark right from the start: an apparently regular life must be rapidly abandoned due to the family's engagement in illegal activities. The Fox tribe, on the other hand, appeared to be much happy than the wretched Byrdes, who all seems to openly dislike one other before fleeing. Seeing the Foxes' trust in one another erode as huge truths strike is a lot different from seeing the same thing happen to a family where those relationships were never there to begin with. The Mosquito Coast's pilot has amusing family in-jokes about college and homeschooling for the first twenty minutes, but they quickly turn dismal reminders of a reality that no longer exists. 

Both shows are also swift to get to the point. By the halfway point of Ozark's first season, Marty has informed both his wife Wendy (Laura Linney) and their children that their business partner has been murdered and that their lives are in danger. Marty must introduce Wendy to his criminal underbelly before she swiftly outstrips him and begins making her own transactions. 

The Fox pair, on the other hand, has been united in their designs from the start. Even if Margot is slightly more of a "people person" (which isn't saying much given Allie's extreme peculiarities), Allie and Margot are on an equal footing. Because there's an unspoken tension growing between Allie and Margot about their shady background, having two active players makes the show more compelling. The first shock of the criminal conspiracy is a good opener, but witnessing a marriage steadily fall apart sets the stage for a lengthier drama. 

The major character of The Mosquito Coast is another fascinating aspect that sets it apart from other Ozark want tobes. Marty Byrde of Ozark is portrayed as a mild-mannered accountant whose sinister side emerges only when he wants to sell an idea quickly. Most importantly, he is not an idealist, and he has no illusions that the money-laundering business is about anything other than his family's immediate survival. Bateman excels at portraying moral ambiguity without implying that it is for a good reason. 

Allie Fox may be just as ruthless a salesman as Marty, but he's also a staunch anti-consumerist who is so committed to his beliefs that he quickly slips into madness. Even if he and Dina try to blend in with a shelter community to avoid the cops, Allie won't miss the opportunity to yell to his daughter about how the federal government's incompetence caused the financial catastrophe. Allie insists that every blunder he makes (from a last-minute collision with a police escort to the murder of their tour guide) is part of his master plan. Marty has the ability to read a room and fit in, but Allie keeps attempting to convince herself that he is in charge. A quick talk reveals him to be a fanatical fundamentalist with a poor grasp of reality. 

The Mosquito Coast unfolds like a mystery, and it is this essential difference that divides the two stories. Marty's laundering scheme is revealed halfway through Ozark's premiere episode when he confesses after being threatened with a gun, whereas The Mosquito Coast spends a whole early episode ("Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere") stranded in the desert with no obvious purpose. Dina is scared of the perils ahead since her father refuses to offer her any answers, and the audience feels her fear. The Mosquito Coast tackles the slow-burn tension of being carried along by a maniac with a goal he refuses to reveal, whereas Ozark mined much of its drama from fixing an urgent issue. 

The awkward and frequently twisted humor of seeing a family of non-hardened criminals struggle to function normally is found in both shows. On Ozark, awkward dinner chats about household duties and deceiving the FBI were the norm, and The Mosquito Coast follows in that tradition with its standout fourth episode "Bus Stop." Allie and Margot are compelled to engage in small chat with the boy's parents as Dina and her ally Chuy attempt to kidnap the son of a crime family while staying at a luxury estate. The ensuing conversation highlights the ridiculousness of the situation. 

Ozark ended its third (and greatest) season with a haunting final shot that signaled the story's conclusion, and anything dealing with comparable subject matter will inevitably be compared to that prestige drama. Thankfully, The Mosquito Coast hits many of the same notes without being identical, and suitably retrofits the original novel and film's bold critique on American stupidity into a riveting adventure set in 2021. With all of the betrayals, interrogations, and chases crammed into the first seven episodes, Ozark viewers are in for a new obsession.


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