The Bear: You Should Watch This Show

Plot: 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.

Review: There is so much to watch today that sometimes a show will fall through the cracks. I strive to watch as much content as I can but sometimes I overlook a series for review and catch it once buzz builds or I get around to the thousands of titles on my list. Recently, I began receiving emails for the FX on Hulu series The Bear. Set in Chicagoland, where I live, and featuring a solid cast and crew, The Bear is a series I made the mistake of not watching the moment I got review copies as it is one of the best shows to debut this year. A drama with comedic elements that deals with grief, addiction, obsession, and the iconic Italian beef sandwich, The Bear is a wonderful story about the clash of high-class cuisine in a working-class restaurant that blends the best of what television can offer.

The Bear stars Jeremy Allen White (Shameless) as Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto, an award-winning chef who returns to run his brother’s sandwich shop after he kills himself. Inheriting a kitchen crew who follow his brother’s chaotic style, including Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), Carmy must deal with his own demons while trying to reinvent the restaurant for the better. Carmy enlists up-and-coming chef Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) and together they strive to make something exciting and new. What becomes immediately apparent when you watch The Bear is that it crams a lot of story into a short run time. The eight episodes that comprise the first season all run at just half an hour, a rarity for a dramatic series. But, the short episodes pack just as much as an hour-long series and even manage to eclipse some shows that spend far too much time filling each episode.

White plays Carmy as a haunted young man who still lingers in his brother’s shadow. You may recognize his face from other series but White does a damn good job leading this ensemble which also features Abby Elliot as his sister, Oliver Platt as Uncle Jimmy Cicero, Lionel Boyce, Liza Colon-Zayas, as well as some important cameos from Jon Bernthal, Joel McHale, and Molly Ringwald. Much of the marketing for the show plays up the funnier elements of the story which makes this seem like a comedy, but despite many funny moments, this story is a drama at heart that mimics the ups and downs of real life.

Creator Christopher Storer, known for his work on the shows Ramy and Dickinson as well as multiple collaborations with Bo Burnham and other comedians, uses the Chicago setting less as a crutch but more as a way to differentiate this show from other food-centric series in New York and Los Angeles. Chicago has a vibrant restaurant culture and that sets this series apart as well. There are many local flourishes that locals will catch that others may not but The Bear easily ranks alongside other Chicago-set series like Boss, Shameless, ER, and more. The geography of Chicago lends some authenticity to the look and feel of this series but it never feels like a cliche version of the city or a crutch of any kind.

What really makes The Bear so good is the portrayal of the world of chefs and restaurants. Much like we have seen in the writing and documentaries of Anthony Bourdain and other chefs, the glamor of being a chef is often a facade over the stress, addiction, and turmoil behind the scenes. The Bear manages to mine these elements for a fascinating look into the lives of the men and women who work alongside Carmy while also allowing each of their personalities to develop along with the story. Clocking in at less than five hours for the full season, The Bear accomplishes more character-building and storytelling than some shows achieve after multiple years on the air.

The Bear is absolutely a series you should watch and as soon as possible. With all eight episodes available right now, you could finish this series in a single sitting and you won’t regret it. I rarely do this anymore, but I am going to go back and watch the entire season again. This is not a show full of easter eggs or plot twists to unpack but it is a wonderfully written show full of engaging performances and more heart than I have seen in any other show in recent years. It doesn’t feature a mystery to solve, action sequences, or special effects. The Bear is just a damn good show and one that everyone can appreciate.

The Bear is now streaming on Hulu.

The Bear




About the Author

5932 Articles Published

Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.