Oz

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  • TV-MA
  • 1997
  • 6 Seasons
  • 8.7  (107,299)

Oz is a gritty, intense and often harrowing look at life inside a maximum security prison. First airing in 1997 on HBO, the series quickly gained a reputation for its raw and uncompromising portrayal of life in prison. With an ensemble cast featuring some of the most talented character actors of the time, Oz was a psychological exploration of the inmates who called the fictional Oswald State Correctional Facility home.

The pilot episode introduces us to the world of Oz through the eyes of inmate Beecher (played by Lee Tergesen), a middle-class lawyer who is incarcerated for drunk driving and manslaughter. He befriends another inmate, O'Reily (played by Harold Perrineau) who encourages him to stand up for himself and not be intimidated by the other inmates. As the series progresses, Beecher finds himself caught up in the politics and power struggles of the prisoner population.

The show also delves into race relations as different ethnic groups within the prison attempt to carve out their own territories and enforce their own laws. The prisoners are divided into various groups based on race or ethnicity, such as the Latinos led by Antonio Nappa (played by David Zayas) and the African Americans led by Simon Adebisi (played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). The white supremacist group is led by Vern Schillinger (played by J.K. Simmons), a ruthless and sadistic inmate who has his sights set on taking down Beecher.

One of the most iconic characters in Oz was Tobias Beecher, a well-educated and successful lawyer who is sentenced to life in prison after killing a child while driving under the influence of alcohol. Throughout the series, Beecher is brutalized both physically and emotionally by other inmates, and is frequently manipulated and used by his fellow inmates. Despite his traumatic experiences, Beecher is a sympathetic character, and his struggle to maintain his humanity is one of the key themes of the show.

Another standout performance is that of Christopher Meloni as the sadistic and sexually deviant corrections officer, Chris Keller. Keller has a complex relationship with Beecher, at times appearing to care for him, and at other times terrorizing him. His character is one of the most complex on the show, and Meloni's performance is both chilling and mesmerizing.

The show also explores the impact of incarceration on the families of those behind bars. The wives and girlfriends of the prisoners, as well as their children, struggle to adjust to life without their loved ones. The character of Sister Peter Marie (played by Rita Moreno) is a counselor at the prison who is dedicated to helping the inmates and their families, despite her own troubled past.

One of the most memorable aspects of Oz is the way it blends realism with surrealism. The show frequently used dream sequences and flashbacks to give viewers a glimpse into the minds of its characters. The show was also known for its graphic violence, which included stabbings, rape, and torture. Despite the difficult subject matter, the show was praised for its writing and performances, and was often cited as one of the best television shows of its time.

In conclusion, Oz was a groundbreaking show that explored the dark and often violent world of prison life. Its intense and gripping portrayal of the inmates who call Oswald State Correctional Facility home is a testament to the talent of the writers and actors involved. The show tackled difficult themes with sensitivity and depth, making it one of the most iconic television productions of its era.

Oz is a series that is currently running and has 6 seasons (56 episodes). The series first aired on July 12, 1997.

Oz
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Seasons
Exeunt Omnes
8. Exeunt Omnes
February 23, 2003
Querns makes a return to Oz as a warden. As Howell learns that she's pregnant, Rebadow unsuccessfully petitions to artificially inseminate Norma. Vahue returns to Oz to talk to young prisoners and has a reunion with Brass. Alvarez receives bad news from the parole board. The mystery behind what really happened to Cloutier is revealed by Hoyt to Ray. Meanwhile, Idzik's death penalty sentence is overturned; Dr. Nathan lends her support to Ryan on the day of Cyril's execution; and the production of Macbeth is held, but Schillinger's fate is the same as the character he plays.
Junkyard Dawgs
7. Junkyard Dawgs
February 16, 2003
New arrival Bukowski and his brownies infringes on the Italian's business. Busmalis and Norma tie the knot. Keller is once again caught in the middle of Schillinger and Beecher. Meanwhile, Seamus O'Reily arrives at Oz; Robson is given some bad news; and the Correctional Officer Association's annual awards banquet ends with a bang -- a surprise death.
A Day in the Death...
6. A Day in the Death...
February 9, 2003
Omar White sponsors Idzik as he transfers to Em City. Glynn realizes a connection between Johnson and Loftus, which brings up more details surrounding Loewen's death. Robson continues with his rape counseling. The inmates support the O'Reilys as Cyril's execution nears.
4 Giveness
5. 4 Giveness
February 2, 2003
The Muslims put out the first copies of Hill's journal, but soon find that their business venture may not be as good as they had thought. Robson is able to rejoin the Brotherhood. Murphy goes to Glynn, which leads to the suspension of Brass. Busmalis is visited by Norma and the baby and she proposes to him. Meanwhile, Cyril's execution is rapidly approaching and he begins to show the side effects of ETC; Keller goes to Beecher for a favor, and then turns on him by ratting him out.
A Failure to Communicate
4. A Failure to Communicate
January 26, 2003
An investigation into Said's death begins. Beecher uncovers more information about Keller's case, which leads to the overturning of Keller's sentence and he is returned to Unit B. Rebadow's relationship with the librarian becomes more complex when he learns she's sick. Meanwhile, Hoyt's sentence is overturned; new inmate Jahfree Neema arrives at Oz; White returns to Em City after making a deal with Glynn; and Dr. Nathan finds that Martinez was suffocated.
Sonata de Oz
3. Sonata de Oz
January 19, 2003
Devlin scrambles to find a win-win solution to his pardoning issues when Loewen threatens to go to the press. Beecher says his goodbyes to Keller and is later released from Oz. Redding moves to telemarketing, opening up the kitchen, which Glynn gives to Pancamo. Meanwhile, Morales dies due to liver failure; Glynn learns why inmates are dying due to poisoning; Hoyt thinks he saw the devil while dealing with the guilt of killing Kirk; and Said is shot by a reporter.
See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Smell No Evil
2. See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Smell No Evil
January 12, 2003
As Beecher is granted parole, Mayor Wilson Loewen arrives at Oz, which, in turn, creates a twist in the feud between Schillinger and Beecher. The mystery behind why inmates in solitary confinement are getting sick is solved by Dr. Nathan.
Dead Man Talking
1. Dead Man Talking
January 5, 2003
McManus comes across a box with Hill's memoirs of his past 6 years at Oz. Alvarez and Schillinger are transferred out of solitary to gen pop, and once Alvarez returns, McManus has him try to work things out with Guerra. Meanwhile, Rebadow gets some much needed cheering up when he is transferred to the library and meets Stella Coffo, the librarian; Kirk, who claims to be possessed, is transferred to death row; Suzanne Fitzgerald puts together an inmate production of Macbeth; Schibetta returns to Gen Pop; and Oz is placed on lockdown following race riots taking place outside of the prison.
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Where to Watch Oz
Oz is available for streaming on the HBO website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Oz on demand at Max, Amazon Prime, Amazon, Hulu, HBO NOW, Vudu, Microsoft Movies & TV, Google Play and Apple TV.
  • Premiere Date
    July 12, 1997
  • IMDB Rating
    8.7  (107,299)