Tense, high energy, dramatic, fast-paced, and emotional are some words that one would use to describe FX’s The Bear.
Set in Chicago, the show focuses on characters who work in a restaurant called The Beef. It is grappling with not only the effects of COVID-19 on businesses but also a tragedy.
The show’s main star is Jeremy Allen White portraying the character of Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto. Carmen is a very successful chef in fine cuisine, having cooked in some of the most prestigious places on earth.
When his brother, who owned a small restaurant, commits suicide, Carmen takes over. His brother had dictated this in his will. Whether out of guilt or misguided loyalty, this endeavor proves to be a challenge for him.
The show has a lot going for it. Every single aspect of it makes it better. Foremost, the story is unique and refreshing. This kind of story can only originate from a talented writer, or someone close to the life lived by the character.
It is interesting to see how it plays out when a prestigious chef downgrades to a significantly smaller restaurant.
Here, he finds a restaurant that is barely afloat. The restaurant has accumulated debt in the hundreds of thousands. The kitchen crew proves to be a tough nut to crack. They are so rigid that even the smallest change is received with either ridicule or total disregard.
A myriad of external factors, such as the emotions arising from Carmys brother's untimely death, insufferable family members, and the Mafia, all come together to create a super tense show.
This is the kind of story and characters that doesn’t give the viewer a sense of déjà vu. In the current over-saturated television environment, taking a chance on The Bear is smart. It won’t leave you asking yourself, “why does it feel like I’ve seen this before?”
Drama is a driving factor for the show. Most character interactions serve to either create some or dial it up. The best drama in the show, however, is found in the kitchen.
The space is small, but the personalities, and to some extent the egos, are certainly not. Change is not their cup of tea. The crew is highly disorganized, and there is nothing Carmen hates more than that. Meals are to be prepared on time without compromising the quality.
The speed at which events are unfolding, coupled with the constant screaming and shouting, can feel overwhelming to the viewer at times. But for the most part, it’s a thrill.
The characters, however, are the heart of the show. There is a diversity of characters. This diversity lies not only in their identities but also in their personalities and temperaments. There is an expected clash between some of them because of how opposite each other they are.
The greatest thing about them is their relatability. Yeah, it’s not relatable for most audience members to work in a kitchen. However, there are some struggles that the characters are going through that a viewer will find relatable.
Take Carmen, for example. He is doing his best not to let his late brother and the crew down if the restaurant fails. He especially feels extra guilt for the strain that his relationship with his brother had. The fact that he missed the signs that his brother was an alcoholic and that he would commit suicide is a source of great pain for him.
Sydney feels like she has finally found her people but feels underappreciated. It’s disappointing for her to have most of her ideas either shot down or ignored. She hates how everyone views her as too fragile to make it in The Beef.
Marcus embraces change and tries to learn more but feels invisible to everyone else. He becomes obsessed with making himself and his recipes better. Once he has a breakthrough, no one, not even Carmy, who is supposed to care most, cares.
Tina is used to a specific drift in the kitchen so much that any small change is too much. She has become set in her ways after working in The Beef for so long that any correction aimed at her she deems to be disrespectful. There’s something for everyone to relate to.
It is satisfying for the audience when each one of them triumphs. When Tina experiments with change and realizes the results are better and maybe change isn’t all that bad, it gives a viewer a warm feeling to see her graduate from using Jeff mockingly to using chef.
Finally, there are the performances. White embodies the character of Carmen. From the soulful monologues to the commanding presence of a chef in the kitchen, he does it effortlessly.
Edebiri manages to balance Sydney's softness while also toughening her up when the need arises. It is easy to hate Ebon as he plays foul-mouthed Richie very well -- to a fault almost.
All this is packed into eight approximately half-hour episodes. This leaves no room for filler content or any fluff.
Even without the cliffhanger, one can tune into the second season of The Bear without any reservations whatsoever. It has been renewed for a second season so let it rip!
The first season of The Bear is streaming on Hulu.
Denis Kimathi is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.