THE BEAR. One of the best shows of the year
The Bear is one of the best TV shows of the year – a fascinating series about a charismatic chef who tries to save his family’s diner, The Beef, from collapse.
Things are fast and intense in Carmy’s (Jeremy Allen White) kitchen. There’s grease sizzling in the frying pan, the soup in the pot is simmering from being put on too high a heat, and all the broth in the freezer has spilled out. The cakes aren’t ready yet, the electricity just went out, and the supplier brought pork instead of beef. The sanitary inspectorate has a few objections, and in general the budget is not coming together. Emotions are running high, and from the tension we ourselves feel like we’re about to boil over. Staying in the kitchen of Chicago diner The Beef is the most stressful moments in modern television.
Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto is doing his best to stay afloat. He is a talented chef with a track record, hailed by one cooking magazine as a rising star chef. When his brother Michael commits suicide, Carmy returns to Chicago to run the family restaurant he unexpectedly left him. The diner faces many organizational and financial problems, and initially no one on the team shares his vision for running the restaurant or wants to listen to his instructions. At the same time, Carmy is trying to face his own demons – the abandonment of his career in the fine dining world, the sudden and unexplained death of his brother and uneasy family relationships. Carmy is fiercely trying to disassociate herself from the family legacy by setting a new direction for his brother’s restaurant. In doing so, he copes with his grief and his own sense of failure.
Inside the bubbling cauldron
The Bear’s creator is Christopher Storer, known for his great series Ramy. The Bear is great for those who easily get tired of long serial marathons. The Bear has only 8 episodes, each of which (except for the last one) lasts less than half an hour. The pace the filmmakers impose doesn’t let you look away from the screen, and, like the Safdie brothers (The Bear brings Uncut Gems to mind), makes you (quite pleasantly) dizzy. The quick editing, close-ups, and choppy action movie-like sounds make it easy to get drawn into the adventures of Carmy’s crew members, who, like the main character, have their own quirks and problems. The excellent script doesn’t follow the beaten path, and the full-blooded, authentic characters are immediately likeable – ambitious, educated Sydney (Ayo Edebiri), adventurous, arrogant cousin Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), stubborn veteran chef Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas) or calm and sensitive Marcus (Lionel Boyce), taking his first steps in confectionery. The acting is delightful, and casting the star of Shameless, Jeremy Allen White, in the lead role is an absolute hit.
From the first minutes, The Bear delves into the world of cooking, throwing us right into the middle of the bubbling cauldron. The series does not slide on the surface, serving up an interesting and non-obvious psychological portrait of its characters. The characteristics of human relationships and internal conflicts are perfectly rendered. Although the plot axis of The Bear is the attempt to restore the splendor of the family diner, the series also tells the story of the tradition of violence and abuse in the restaurant business. Carmy tries to get out of this toxic world, which is also represented by his so-called cousin Richie, a typical macho man who hides a soft, wounded side under the guise of a tough guy. The new chapter in the restaurant’s life is a chance for both of them to find themselves, mend relationships with loved ones and break with toxic masculinity.
The series is authentic and sincere, full of character and “that something” that is very hard to find today in the world of on-demand viewing. The Bear is like a perfectly composed dish, after which, when asked by the waiter if we enjoyed everything, one wants to enthusiastically shout “Yes, chef!”.