Is Ozark’s Clare Shaw Inspired By the Sackler Family?

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This story contains spoilers for Season Four, Part One of Ozark.

Please forgive us for the understatement of all understatements, but quite a lot is going on in Season Four, Part One of Ozark, which dropped on Netflix last week. The Navarro cartel is in the midst of an all-time power struggle. Agent Miller goes rogue. Marty and Wendy are back on their bullshit, of course. Ruth is now the caretaker of a real, living baby. Oh. And one of our favorite characters takes a bullet to the face.

Amid, you know, all of it, we feel like one new character hasn’t spurred much conversation amongst the Ozark fandom: Clare Shaw. Played by Katrina Lenk, Shaw is the CEO of Shaw Medical Solutions, a massive pharmaceutical company, that becomes a target of Wendy’s as she embarks on her noble quest to obtain absolute political power in the midwest. Throughout the season, we see Wendy try to nab a significant financial backing from Shaw, claiming she’ll open rehabilitation centers in Shaw’s name. Why would Shaw want such a thing? Well, her father nearly destroyed their company—Shaw Medical Solutions is a family business—having fueled the opioid crisis in the world of Ozark.

Now, if a controversial, family-owned pharmaceutical company sounds vaguely familiar to you, may we remind you of the Sackler family. The Sacklers own Purdue Pharma and Mundipharma, collectively making the family, reportedly, worth billions of dollars. They’re often accused of engineering the opioid crisis in the United States, receiving lawsuits for overprescribing highly addictive pharmaceutical drugs, like Oxycontin. (They recently settled one for a whopping $4.5 billion.) In recent years, numerous institutions have even disassociated with the Sackler name, refusing to take money as part of their philanthropic efforts—which some accuse as reputation laundering. This is something we see in Ozark, with Shaw on a PR campaign to right her family’s wrongs in the public eye. Now, obviously, the Sacklers never pulled a Clare Shaw and solicited the help of the cartel, but it’s interesting to see Ozark seemingly pull inspiration from real-life Big Pharma headlines.

As for the Ozark of it all? In the final episode of Season Four, Part One, the show seemingly teased a bit of conflict between Shaw and Javi in Part Two. In a conversation with Wendy, Shaw calls Javi “disgusting,” adding that she doesn’t want to work with him face to face. Which… means that Javi will certainly storm Shaw HQ when we see the last batch of episodes. Also, Clare, let us offer a pro tip. If cartel leaders make you uncomfortable, don’t work with the cartel! Sheesh.

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