Television’s current golden age has largely improved due to streaming services, and “The Bear” is a prime example of that.
FX and Hulu’s new show fully broke the internet on Aug. 3 by launching its first season all at once, allowing audiences to begin binging as soon as it was released. This move is a recent trend in television, adapting and advancing the medium to fit viewers lifestyles and attention spans. It’s easier to follow longform plot-lines and character arcs without having to wait a full week, and The Bear takes full advantage of that.
Plot devices and characters are setup in the first episode, become normal throughout the show, and wrap up satisfyingly by the final episode. I never thought a can of tomato sauce would make me so happy.
“The Bear’s” influences are worn on its sleeve, but never become trite. Its pacing is extremely reminiscent of “Uncut Gems” or “Good Time”, but develop into its own aesthetic and meaning quickly.
Its virality has been largely due to its accuracy to the culture of the food industry, but I was impressed by its deep portrayal of trauma and grief. Each character plays a role in the kitchen, but also has a role in the family, which mimics the toxic cycles we perform in our own circles.
Throughout the season, the main character, Carmen, is tackling the trauma of losing his brother to suicide while taking over his kitchen. He’s constantly reliving memories of his brother’s life and his trauma from abuse in kitchen training, and pushing that toxicity on everyone else.
With this cycle of abuse, topics of gender are at play while his sister healthily copes and manages after the death, while Carmen avoids those emotions which ultimately destroys the kitchen and his family.
This setup leads to a brilliant final two episodes, where each character gets kicked to their lowest point and is forced to gather self-awareness. The spectacle of these episodes is indescribable. Both use the style of one-shot filmmaking for completely different reasons, and its jaw dropping to experience.
All of the actors’ incredible portrayal of a kitchen environment elevates your suspension of disbelief for a complete immersion of stress and euphoria. It took multiple viewings for me to pull out of the story and to consider the choreography the directors must have orchestrated to portray multiple story beats while cooking multiple meals.
And of course, the food looks amazing. Watching this show makes me romanticize working in the kitchen. The meals look delicious and satisfying to make, and the characters put so much love into it.
After those thoughts though, the show immediately tells you it’s a brutal job. Characters treat each other horribly, but have incredibly thick skin to survive. It makes you question if this is their version of love, and if you could handle it.
As happy as I am with this full circle season, I am so happy it has been renewed for another. These characters are so lovable and dislikable, and it’s addicting to watch.