Title: The Bear (Season #1)
Released: 2022

Fix: kitchen nightmares, food porn, family drama, Chicago
Platforms: Hulu

Hulu Summary:

Carmy, a young fine-dining chef, comes home to Chicago to run his family sandwich shop. As he fights to transform the shop and himself, he works alongside a rough-around-the-edges crew that ultimately reveal themselves as his chosen family.

FYA Summary:

The FX dramedy, The Bear, and its colorful cast of characters premiered last summer and in addition to generating all the right social media buzz, garnered plenty of awards for acting and writing. The story of stressed-out chef, Carmy, trying to keep the family restaurant afloat after his older brother takes his own life is incredibly compelling family drama and work drama.

The employees of the Original Beef of Chicagoland, used to the way Carmy’s brother Michael ran the restaurant, are slow to adapt to Carmy’s ideas of how a kitchen should run. This is further tested when Carmy hires another alum from the fine dining world, Sydney, and puts her in charge of improving efficiency. The inevitable personality clashes add to an already tense atmosphere, but even when the gang succeeds, it’s always a bit of one step forward and two steps back.

Familiar Faces:

Carmy and Richie argue in the walk-in freezer

(L-R) Jeremy Allen White as Carmy, Lionel Boyce as Marcus, and Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Richie

Jeremy Allen White was previously best known for his work on Shameless, but he really nails the role of Carmy. He shares some great scenes with pastry chef Marcus (Boyce), who he struggles to be a patient mentor to, despite the fact that it’s not really in his wheelhouse, and Marcus is really easily distracted by donuts and fermentation processes. Carmy’s biggest pain in the ass comes in the form of his honorary cousin Richie (his brother’s best friend). Richie’s devotion to honoring Michael’s memory means he doesn’t think they should change a thing about the restaurant, despite the fact that they’re barely able to keep the place open.

Sydney and Carmy converse during an outside break

(L-R) Jeremy Allen White and Ayo Edebiri as Sydney

Ayo Edebiri is the real breakout star of the show. As the sometimes uptight, but incredibly efficient newest employee, she’s eager to impress her new mentor, Carmy, but she finds herself frequently frustrated by his lack of communication and commitment to new ideas. She’s magic onscreen but has some especially good chemistry in her scenes with Carmy and Richie.

Not pictured: Look out for several really great cameos that I won’t spoil here.

Couch-Sharing Capability: Booth or Table?

The Bear deftly explores family dynamics and obligations, both family of birth and family of choice. Watching the characters grapple with anxiety and grief amid the incredibly stressful occupation of the post-pandemic restaurant business isn’t the most relaxing show I could recommend. Consider whether these are themes you want to sit alone with or would rather have someone by your side. Preferably, someone who’s good with switching to something fluffy when you can’t handle another minute of The Bear.

Recommended Level of Inebriation: Happy Hour

Have I mentioned this show is intense? It is so stressful, oh my god. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great! But it is hard to sit with that level of sustained tension for even the length of a 34 minute episode. You’re going to want to relax with SOMETHING. Pour yourself a cold one, or pop an edible, but please do not buy something off some squirrely dude behind a restaurant.

Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Special of the Day

The inner workings of restaurant kitchens aren’t anything new in the world of television, but this gritty take, with its frequently messy family at the heart, feels surprisingly fresh. Featuring some really clever needle drops, the soundtrack of The Bear blends perfectly with its working-class Chicago setting. The showrunners obviously put an enormous amount of thought into the sound, and it shows.

You will probably need blood pressure meds after watching this show, but I feel certain you’ll also be ready to be a returning customer. Season two of The Bear is now streaming.

We published this review during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. This work would not exist without the labor of writers and actors, and we support their goals. 

Kandis (she/her) is a proud member of the Austin FYA book club chapter who loves vampires, romance novels, live tweeting CW shows, and Jonah Griggs. She’s not like a regular mom. She’s a cool mom.