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Film, TV and Streaming

‘The Bear’ taps into the soul of the restaurant industry

Carmy wants to improve on the legacy of the River North staple, The Beef, but spends the first half of “The Bear” battling to win over the tenured employees. (Courtesy of IMDb)
In the wake of its success, FX has confirmed show will return with a second season

In FX’s newest hit drama, Carmen “Carmy,” played by Jeremy Allen White of “Shameless,” leaves his life as a successful high-end chef to take over his family’s Chicago sandwich shop, The Beef, after the tragic death of his addict brother.

Carmy wants to improve on the legacy of the River North staple, but spends the first half of the show battling to win over the tenured employees.

White’s performance in “The Bear” resembles his beloved depiction of Lip Gallagher in “Shameless.” Carmy is a hardcore, gifted and disturbed young man. He and the other employees at The Beef closely emulate the real-life dynamic of a greasy, unceremonious, quick-stop restaurant. During meal-time rushes, characters fight loud and hard, but as cooks and servers know, all is forgiven after the last call.

While “The Bear” can be enjoyed by anyone, the show is especially touching to restaurant employees. Moments in every episode imitate the arduous nightmare that a lunch or dinner service can be. The dialogue doesn’t wait for anyone; it’s fast, confusing and riddled with irreverent humor. The cinematography and mise en scene don’t sugar coat it; most restaurant kitchens are grimy and for some reason always have horrible lighting. But “The Bear” honors this in a way that makes it beautiful. The montages of mania are cut with close ups that respect the calming elegance of cooking and provide a recess from the stress of it all.

While “The Bear” is dark and deals with tarnished relationships, addiction and death, it doesn’t incubate viewers in sadness, it leaves them with hope. Carmy’s dilemma speaks to anyone who has ever felt they were wasting their potential working in a low-end restaurant but couldn’t bring themselves to leave. Employees at The Beef are family.

“The Bear” was released to Hulu in late June and has managed to earn a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In the wake of the show’s success, FX has confirmed that “The Bear” will return with a second season.

Kelsey Percival is the editorial assistant for The Durango Herald and an avowed cinephile. Reach her at kpercival@durangoherald.com.