The Bear: TV so good it could kill you

I I’m always thinking of fun and interesting new ways to kill people and get away with it. My current favorite method is this: I invite someone with a weak heart to my house with the promise of a quality TV show. I wore the first two episodes of The Bear. If they don’t die from it, I briefly equip Uncut Gems, which is about the same pace. At this point even I think I might die. If they’re still alive (flushing, red, asking for water), I’ll show them the penultimate episode of The Bear), which no one who’s ever had to switch to a plant-based spread for cholesterol can survive unaided. I throw the body out the window into the apartment below. This is now a problem from below.

That might sound like The Bear — essentially a show about a very intense sandwich shop — is one of the best TV shows of the last five years, which it is, but we can’t tiptoe around the fact that it is starts stressful. Even Jeremy Allen White’s chef Carmy is stressed out by the whole affair: Here he is, look, he wakes up at 6am; here he frantically chops an onion and then yells for “Hands!”; here he experiences a personal trauma; here he lives through a family history; the bell rings, a pan is burning. The best food in the world is prepared by people with tattoos and scars they don’t want to explain, who operate and scream every three feverish hours of sleep, and The Bear sinks you skin-side down into the hot oil. Watch the first two episodes and learn what it’s like to be hissed at for overcooking a broth. Watch The Bear to see what it’s like to work back-to-back in hospitality. Watching with a snack because somehow it still makes you hungry.

Again, that might sound like I don’t think The Bear is one of the…etc.etc. Check out the cast, who are flawless: the aforementioned White, a Gene Wilder Regen who looks like the only thing he eats is cigarettes, plays the perpetually exhausted Carmy, who always pulls a hand through his hair, always turning nine plates and keeping an eye on a tenth. His foil is Ebon Moss-Bachrach’s Richie, one of TV’s big assholes who delights in showing up late in sweatpants and making everyone else’s day louder. Matty Matheson has the electrifying charisma to carry the entire show alone, but is played with absolute scarcity. Ayo Edebiri’s Sydney is a revelation, a cute sous chef asking the teacher for homework, with secretly sharp teeth. Lionel Boyce’s storyline, What If A Man Could Fall In Love With A Cake?, is told with almost no dialogue and functions as a sweet accompaniment to the rich main course. Even Liza Colón-Zayas’ Tina, who’s only there to say she doesn’t want to be in it, is played with perfect aplomb.

In episode three, the hot kitchen roar has quieted and what unfolds is a tightly-intentioned, continuous, no-frills story that brings in unexpected themes from all directions. Every character on TV has to experience tragedy, and The Bear is no different (Carmy, a world-class chef on the verge of burnout, was left behind at the failed sandwich shop after his brother’s suicide). But there are other things too: the bizarre class system in the world of food; snobbery against the basic human need for hunger; hierarchy and respect; mafia debt and toxic male rage; seal. It’s also a reminder to be funny – a cold open where Richie tries to pull a t-shirt over an inflatable hot dog is a particular highlight – and plays the hearty beats with just the right balance of fat and acid: nothing of this American corn syrup’s sugar content. It has a great soundtrack and does what good TV shows do, where they let you feel the gritty underside of a city you don’t really know (Chicago, in this case). It will also make you want to buy a double pack of tea towels and say, “Heard!” every time someone says something to you.

It’s great then. Sorry, but this column has been on a good episode of TV shows lately. I know that’s not what you want. You want me to watch what Gino D’Acampo does, so you don’t have to. That’s how you get your kicks, isn’t it? Hey, crazy idea: do you want to come to my house? Would you like to watch some episodes of The Bear with me?

The bear is available on Disney+ starting Wednesday.

#Bear #good #kill

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