I Finally Got Around To Watching ‘The Bear’ And Its Damn Good TV

Over the summer FX did that thing they do where they just roll out a comedy and let word of mouth do the rest. One of the shows that became an instant hit for them among audiences and critics was The Bear, a show about one of the world’s great chefs (Jeremy Allen White) who inherits his recently deceased brother’s (you’re just gonna have to watch to find out who it is) struggling sandwich shop in Chicago. It’s been on my to-do list for a while and now that I’ve burned through the first season in two days I’m disappointed in myself for not hopping on the bandwagon sooner.

I think a good comparison for The Bear is that it’s as dramatic a comedy as Succession is a funny drama. The show doesn’t rely on punchlines or visual gags but is great at hurling insults and elevating what many of us may view as mundane tasks. My sister-in-law was the one who originally told me about the show and one thing she said that I found to be true was “Why is this stressing me out? They’re just making sandwiches!” I think this speaks to both the research the cast and crew did to create an authentic back of house feel and the editing for heightening situations that those of us who haven’t worked in a restaurant can understand the little things that can set everyone off. Each character, both big and small, has moments of humor and times where we feel legitimately bad that they didn’t chop onions the right way.

That being said, there are some heavy moments over the first season. Grief plays a big role in the show as Michael’s (the original owner) death looms large over everyone in the kitchen, particularly Carmy (White), his sister Sugar (Abby Elliott), and his loud-mouthed best friend Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). Carmy bears the brunt of this weight as not only has he been tasked with taking over a ragtag family business he had little to do with but he’s also learning more and more about his brother whom he had grown more estranged from over time. The last episode features an all-time monologue that covers all the stages of grief and cemented Jeremy Allen White’s recent Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy Series.

The rest of the cast does some great work too. Moss-Bachrach gets plenty of meaty (no pun intended but intended) storylines as Richie throughout the season as Michael’s best friend who pushes back on all of Carmy’s changes to the restaurant. His unconventional methods often point to the same objective that Carmy wants though his way tends to be more destructive. Sydney (Ado Edebiri) also gets a good chunk of screen time as a new hire with a similar background to Carmy’s. While she’s pushy and impatient to try new things, despite everyone’s best efforts, her and Carmy are able to connect over their drive to create the best restaurant possible. The rest of the kitchen staff all get their moments throughout the season, though my favorite is Somali immigrant Ebraheim (Edwin Lee Gibson) whose side comments often lead to some of the show’s best laughs.

The Bear wrapped up its first season over the summer and is currently available on Hulu. With only eight, half-hour episodes this is a very easy watch. I blew through the whole series on back-to-back nights. If the first few episodes don’t drag you in I encourage you to stick with it until the end as the last two episodes are some of the best TV you’ll see all year. Again, for a comedy this isn’t the funniest show out there but it’s very well acted and very well written so do yourself a favor over the holiday break and take a bite out this one.

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