TV Review: The Bear Season One

I had heard great things about The Bear (streaming on Hulu) for a good long while. That said, I’d never actually paid much attention to what it was about. I knew it was somehow classified by the Golden Globes as a comedy (though I’ve never really understood what makes a comedy vs a drama to the Golden Globes, and this hasn’t helped at all), and I knew it was about a chef running a restaurant. That’s about it.

So maybe it’s not surprising that it took a long time for me to actually watch the show. I’ve got a streak of “You Can’t Make Me” in me that sometimes means I’m reluctant to watch things just because everyone says I should. I love finding things on my own, and not just always following the crowd.

But eventually, a big enough crowd can wear me down, and I decided to finally give The Bear a shot last week. Denisa and I finished the first season in about three days, and we’re already halfway through the second season. (There are only two seasons thus far.) The show is absolutely incredible, and I shouldn’t have waited this long to watch it. It was an easy 10/10 for me.

First off, this is not a comedy by any stretch. Yes, there are funny parts in it, but just because something makes you laugh now and then doesn’t make it a comedy. It’s squarely in the drama category for me. The premise is straightforward: a world-famous chef quits his job when his brother commits suicide and leaves him the struggling family restaurant in his will. (Laughing already, right?) The restaurant is in real hard times, and it’s a struggle to get it to stay afloat, let alone prosper. To make things worse, no one cares about his qualifications as a chef. This restaurant is a little sandwich shop. It’s not high cuisine, so what does it matter if he knows how to use a sous vide?

First and foremost, the series is incredibly well written. Look, I have no idea what it’s like to run a restaurant, so maybe this is way off, but the show definitely feels like it really knows what it’s talking about. Like you’re getting an inside glimpse on what it’s like, in a way that reminded me of The Wire’s inside view of drug dealing. The dialogue is superb, the pacing is relentless, and the characters are all very well drawn. The fact that the acting is top notch is just icing on the cake, but it really is fantastic.

Honestly, I can’t think of anything to nitpick about this one. It was riveting from start to finish, with enough humor thrown in to keep the tense scenes still feeling tense. A great balance. Yes, the show has abominable language (as do so many fantastic shows these days, it feels like. As if people somehow think it’s impossible to show true drama without throwing in at least three f-bombs per sentence), but if that’s not an auto-turn off, then you owe it to yourself to watch this show. I don’t know how else to put it. The episodes are short, so it’s not a huge commitment.

Give it a shot, if you haven’t.

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