The Bear is a Hulu Original Series created by Christopher Storer, which premiered under the streamer’s FX on Hulu hub. Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White) is an extremely talented cook who managed to become a rising star in the culinary world. However, his plans changed when his brother Mikey committed suicide. Mikey ended up bequeathing his restaurant, the Original Beef of Chicagoland, to Carmy, who now struggles to pull the restaurant out of debt and give it a creative overhaul. Both goals bring him into conflict with his staff, particularly Mikey’s friend Richie Jerimovich (Ebon Moss-Bachrach).
Before I go further in this review, I have to talk about my own connection to the art of cooking. Cooking is perhaps one of the few areas other than writing where I love to hone my skills. The art of creating great food, and expanding my palette in the process, is simply wonderful. Finding new recipes is great, and so is finding new ways to bring my favorite foods to life. Conversely, I’ve had a few jobs in the food industry and it’s the utter definition of chaos. You have to make sure the equipment is sparkling clean. You have to deal with dinner and late-night rushes—especially on the weekends. And you’ll often stay late to make sure the kitchen is as spotless as you left it.
Thankfully, Storer, who writes and directs the majority of The Bear, understands this chaos as well as the beauty of cooking. Scenes of Carmy and his crew racing around the kitchen and filling out orders run parallel to montages of food being prepared and orders flying out. And the food looks scrumptious, whether it’s slowly roasted beef for the Original Beef’s sandwiches or something as simple as peanut butter and jelly. True, there’s no food porn on the level of Chef but it’ll still whet audiences’ appetites. And as befits a comedy, Carmy and his crew run into various obstacles. The health inspector is less than impressed with their setup. Tensions rise when a food critic arrives to write a piece. And in perhaps the most hilarious moment, the Original Beef crew winds up catering a children’s birthday party that goes south fast. You never know what’s going to happen, which is half the fun of watching
What also keeps the show anchored is its cast, especially White as Carmy. White plays Carmy like an actual cook; always on his feet, always juggling a million things, always ready to snap. Yet there are layers of grief behind his eyes and as the series unfolds, it’s revealed that there’s more than his brother’s death that’s eating at Carmy. It all comes to a head in the final episode, “Braciole,” where he delivers a seven-minute monologue laced with emotion. And trust me when I say that White will have you glued to the screen for the entirety of that monologue. The only other time I saw this happen was with Bojack Horseman, which is fitting given that The Bear‘s co-showrunner Joanna Calo was a writer on that series.
Moss-Bachrach is also a hoot as Richie and feels like an actual Chicago native. He constantly refers to Carmy as “Cousin,” despite the fact that the two aren’t related, and is quick to settle an argument, usually by drawing a gun. And there’s Sydney (Ayo Edebiri), the new sous chef that Carmy hires. Sydney is both the series’ straight man and its deuteragonist, as she attempts to help Carmy while also dealing with the pressures of a kitchen—which weigh heavily on her since she’s a Black woman. Which is another thing I appreciate about this series: it doesn’t shy away from the darker side of the culinary world. And in a world where people take away the wrong lessons from shows like Breaking Bad and Rick & Morty, I’m glad this series thoroughly dismantles the myth of the “troubled genius.”
The Bear serves as a comedic, yet cutting view into the world of restaurant culture – exploring the industry’s flaws as well as the simple joy of cooking. This series has more than earned its reputation as one of the summer’s sleeper hits, so whether you’re a foodie or you love FX’s range of programming, or both, it’s worth a watch. It also continues to mark a solid turnout of projects from Hulu, ranking up there with other originals including Solar Opposites and Only Murders in the Building.
All episodes of The Bear is currently available to stream on Hulu.
- Rating - 9/109/10
The Bear serves as a comedic, yet cutting view into the world of restaurant culture – exploring the industry’s flaws as well as the simple joy of cooking. This series has more than earned its reputation as one of the summer’s sleeper hits, so whether you’re a foodie or you love FX’s range of programming, or both, it’s worth a watch.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.