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The Bear – TV series review

The Bear poster

TV Series: The Bear
Released: August 2022


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

This was a freshly baked TV series revolving around food and family which we breezed through recently. And we absolutely svaoured and loved!
Served in eight sharp and punchy courses, we got to voyeur into and savour both the culinary and volatile emotional worlds of Carmen ‘Carmy’ Berzatta, a talented and passionate young chef who returns home to run the family sandwich shop in Chicago, known as The Origianl Beef of Chicagoland, after the unexpected death of his brother.  
Carmy has had stints as an up-and-coming chef in some of the most renowned fine-dining restaurants. But he’s now forced to give up the highly disciplined yet unlimited creative familiarities of his high performance work environments. While concurrently faced with the challenges of his tenuously troubled family relationships and dealings with stubborn, change-resisting kitchen staff.
The deep dive into the unflattering operational demands of a short order restaurant is often stressful. Half way through the first episode you wonder if you truly want to continue. Our initial hesitation and unease is heightened by the anxiety created by the chaos of a new chef taking on an existing team, sparking unpleasant exchanges between seemingly unsavoury and irredeemable of characters. 
But with some patience, aided by some insightful and well-researched writing, good direction, nifty cinematography, great soundtrack choices and some fine acting, our persistence was duly rewarded. The characterisations soon unfold and you begin to quickly warm to each one of them through the short, power-packed episodes.

The main characters

Jeremy Allen White’s Carmy is infused with driven but erratic charm. The actor reportedly spent two weeks at cooking school preparing for the role and worked in the kitchens of multiple restaurants, including the Michelin star-rated Pasjoli. His depiction of an exceptional, driven but flawed millennial high-achiever was believable, complete with dishevelled shock of hair, which defiantly remained uncovered in what should be a non-negotiable standard in any respectable operational kitchen. Having only watched the British family TV drama Shameless, we regrettably missed his much lauded performance as Philip ‘Lip’ Gallagher in the successful American version of that same series.
Ebon Moss-Bacharach is Richard ‘Richie’, also referred to as ‘cousin’, a childhood friend of Carmy and his late brother Michael who was right hand man to Michael. He is impetuous, displaying lots of ego and constant juvenile behaviour. We aren’t surprised to learn of the dysfunctional state of his personal family circumstances. But the the delightful revelation in the series is young comedienne Avo Edebiri as the bright and driven Sydney, whom Carmy hires as his new Sous Chef to keep his inherited kitchen team in check. Arguably it’s her resilience, maturity and likability, lined with an inner glow, that’s the right piquant sauce that holds the recurring shit show in the kitchen together.
The context is based on the legendary Chicago Italian beef sandwich shop, Mr Beef. Having visited a few new and old-world restaurants in Chicago and actually dined at Eleven Madison Park in New York (where Carmy supposedly worked before his untimely homecoming), it was both nostalgic and evocative for us.  

Good food and good relationships

Good food is all about timing, detail and the care and consistency achieved working with the right ingredients and quality produce. And good human relationships are equally demanding in the way you need to invest in them. If this brilliant series were likened to a massive degustation meal, it was made with the best of creative intentions but more importantly served up with lots of heart. 
This series comes highly recommended, especially if you love food, action and intense drama! We can’t wait for season two, which unsurprisingly was confirmed with the great reception the first one received!