TV Review: OZ (6 seasons, 1997-2003)

+ wide cast of characters, each with their own personalities, stories and beliefs
+ as the show was about prisoners, there was no real ‘good guy’ or ‘bad guy’
+ every character was given their chance to shine, making their deaths/actions more compelling to watch, and helped form an attachment to them
+ the interactions between various gangs and guards evolved as the stories played out, and characters were introduced or killed
+ very positive portrayals of homosexual inmates
+ keeping the series set solely inside the prison allowed the viewer to learn how good or bad different areas were (violence could always take place in the gym, whoever ran the kitchen had the power, being sent to ‘the hole’ sucked reall bad etc.)

– the nudity, language and violence may be off-putting (although it is a HBO show)
– storylines did get slightly silly in the middle seasons (and were promptly ret-conned where possible)
– cliffhanger ending leaves many plot points unresolved

> before Game of Thrones, this show pioneered the ‘anyone can die’ approach
> I don’t know if the series knew ahead of time it was not getting another season, but even another half season could have been a good way to tie up loose ends

Should you watch this show: If you don’t mind harsh language, strong violence or gratuitous nudity, and enjoy series such as The Wire or Game of Thrones, then yes. Oz came before both of those shows, and in many ways does things better.

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