I’ve recently realized that I have a serious addiction. My husband suffers from this as well, and I believe at least one of his coworkers is also hooked. The drug of choice? HBO’s former series, Oz. Back when it was actually on the air, I didn’t have HBO and only was able to catch a couple episodes. I wish I realized back then how amazing it is!!
If you’ve never watched an episode, I recommend getting started right now. The series begins by focusing on the group of prisoners residing in Emerald City, an experimental unit of the Oswald State Prison, as well as Tim McManus, who runs the unit, and the other employees of Oz. There is a constant flow of people in and out of the unit, as they are transferred to different units, newly incarcerated, or meet their untimely end. The usual cast of stereotypical prison types and gangs are present, but they are so dynamic that it almost feels as if you were watching the best MSNBC true life special on a prison to ever be made.
What I find unique about this series is how they manage to make every character, both big and small, into someone who captures your interest and emotion for each episode. I find myself wondering how Beetcher is doing when he isn’t shown, or what Schillinger or Adibizi is plotting when the focus is elsewhere. As the series progresses, I see myself forming attachments and connections to certain characters. Sadly, prison isn’t a walk in the park and a few of my favorites have kicked the bucket. The death in season 4 is one which truly made me sad.
The relationships between characters is another part of this show that excells in it’s ability to stay fresh and interesting. Tobias Beetcher, for example, has his ongoing war with one inmate, an unhealthy love for another, a struggle with his family, and a struggle within himself. Other characters struggle less and just hate everyone. Sister Peter Marie and Dr. Nelson form both bonds and dislikes through treating inmates, and it’s interesting to see a different side to some of the hard asses once they are around a woman, as well as the problems that develop later on.
There is so much I want to say, but I know if I do I will end up giving away too much and ruining the surprise for some Oz virgin out there. It’ll be interesting to anyone new to the series to see how many of their favorite actors from other shows are locked up in Oz. Half the cast of Dexter is present and accounted for, just to name one example. The only negative parts of this show that I’ve found are that most season are only 8 episodes (nearly an hour each though) and there is way too much male frontal nudity.
Take my advice and begin watching Oz immediately! Do it now! Go!