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The Bear review: A fiery feast of kitchen malice and dark comedy

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FX’s latest production, The Bear, just premiered on Hulu on June 23, 2022. The eight-episode glimpse into the insides of a chaotic sandwich joint in Chicago managed to hit all the right spots, with its brilliant portrayal of the food industry woven into a dark comedy that deals with grief, trauma, growth, and, of course, food.

Created by Christopher Storer, known for Eighth Grade, and produced by Storer and Joanna Calo of BoJack Horseman, the show is more inclined towards the depiction of intensity in the kitchen than towards comedy. At its simplest, it’s a story of a chef from the fine-dine world who returns to his home in Chicago to run their family sandwich shop after an unexpected tragedy in the house; however, in reality, it is much more than just a story.

Read on for a detailed review of The Bear.

The Bear review: Exploring the human side of a complex profession

The Bear kicks off with the depiction of a literal bear. Though revealed to be a dream sequence, this quite rightly sets the pace and intensity that the other seven 30-minute (approx.) episodes will follow.

The show did not take long to dive into the bustling and complicated world of the kitchen.

The series centers around Jeremy Allen White’s Carmen Berzatto, also known as Carmy, who previously escaped the cramped world of his family restaurant to live a dream stint in the fine-dining world. However, after his brother’s suicide, he returns with his newfound skills and knowledge to try and turn the family restaurant around.

The evenly-spread series offers a good look into the back door kitchen, almost in an educational way, to the ones unfamiliar with it while giving an extremely relatable slice of life to those in the food industry, as Carmy struggles to make the odd kitchen a success. The kitchen’s insides reflect the honesty of the streets outside. Though in this regard, the show could have spent a little more time exploring the ‘outside.’

Carmy’s struggles are often eased and often aggravated by a variety of oddball kitchen staff, including the overly-inspired Marcus (Lionel Boyce), the honorary cousin and manager Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), and the brilliant Ayo Edebiri’s Sydney, a trained chef who admires Carmy’s work.

The Bear does not shy away from the harsh realities of the culinary world. This is one of the things that help the series maintain its honesty and intensity over the eight episodes. And while that intensity never drops, there are layers, some debilitating and some mysterious, that are added with passing episodes. By the time the final episode comes on, viewers will have formed a priceless bond with the restaurant and all its ‘chefs,’ as Carmy likes to call them.

As most of the drama takes place inside the kitchen, it requires an even greater effort by the actors, especially White, to compensate for the lack of outside perspective with some great performances. Every cast member does this with remarkable ease and nuance. This is one of the things that keep things afloat. The tasty camera work is also another reason for the show’s satisfactory visual abundance.

The most successful of all things in this show is the depiction of humans. Dealing with a range of emotions, from grief to anger to frustration, this series manages to bring viewers close to the story, often in a very intimate manner. In a way, it acts like food itself, something that has a flavor of its own. While the series is not perfect, it is hard to find noticeable flaws either.

The Bear may have had a lot more to explore, especially with the characters, but in its limited runtime, it did better than one could have hoped.

All the episodes of The Bear are now streaming on Hulu.

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