You’re only as strong as your weakest ingredient.
Even if you’re not a foodie, you will not find any flaws in “The Bear.” The FX production, streaming on Hulu, is the second-best TV show of the year, bested only by “Succession.”
The driving force is the outrageously good performance of Jeremy Allen White, who stars as Carmen, known as “Carmy.” The former “Shameless” star plays a man who takes over The Original Beef of Chicagoland, a failing restaurant owned by his brother, who committed suicide. In the second season, Carmy wants to create a fine dining restaurant in Chicago. One second, he is kind, the next he is exploding in anger and depressed.
White has some Brando-esque machismo, charm and muscles. But in the first season he had no love interest. Enter Molly Gordon, who was excellent as one of the few people who told the truth in the film “Shiva Baby, as Claire. With her angelic face, delivering her dialogue in a near whisper, she is almost too good to be true. When Claire and Carmy lock lips, it’s the best TV kiss of the year. And Claire also has the best line of the whole show. When Carmy is afraid to become involved with her, she realizes he is afraid the other shoes will drop. “Want to know a secret?” she asks. “Nobody’s keeping track of shoes.”
It’s a saucy line in the eighth episode, aptly titled “Bolognese.” Even without much screen time, Gordon shows the makings of a superstar. Her chemistry with White is mesmerizing. It’s impossible not to love either character. Carmy and Claire hit it off; will Carmy self-sabotage, as he often does?
Ebon Moss-Bachrach, who can currently be seen opposite Jennifer Lawrence in “No Hard Feelings,” is Ritchie, his brother’s best friend, manager of The Original Beef of Chicagoland and jealous of Carmy. Bachrach nails the role as a quick-tempered everyman who uses humor to distract from low self-esteem and wants to take care of his daughter, even as his wife has moved on. Getting a ton of screen time, Bachrach knows how to take the hearts of the audience in his hand.
Ayo Edebiri is a revelation as Sydney, a young woman who is a trained chef and perhaps hopes to get hot in the kitchen with Carmy. Edebiri doesn’t strike a single false note. Oliver Platt stars as Uncle Jimmy, a major investor in the restaurant, who tells a story about Steve Bartman, the young fan who reached into the field to grab a foul ball that many thought left fielder Moises Alou could have caught. The Cubs, who were ahead 3-0 in the game, wound up losing. Jamie Lee Curtis plays Carmy’s chain smoking and verbally abusive mother. She loves her son, but she is quite crazy, screaming and being mean for no reason. Her scenes on the show are painfully chaotic.
Creator Christopher Storer, who writes or directs the majority of the episodes, is an absolute genius. That a scene about whether or not the restaurant passes a fire suppression inspection had me on the edge of my seat exemplifies the quality of the writing. The food is also beautifully shot and the stress of making mistakes or wrong decisions is palpable.
We see that working in a kitchen isn’t easy and it can drive people to depression or drugs. Carmy, who is affectionately referred to as ‘The Bear” or “Bear” is a man on a mission. As for this show, it fuses the tensions of the kitchen, the beauty of the food and the things that get these interesting characters ticked off.
You won’t find another series that can at one moment be extremely relaxing, and the next, wholeheartedly unnerving. I nearly became verklempt as a character waited to see if her mashed potatoes were good enough.
I also learned something new: You can put sour cream and onion potato chips on an omelet. You won’t find another series that can at one moment be extremely relaxing, and the next, wholeheartedly unnerving. I nearly became verklempt as a character waited to see if her mashed potatoes were good enough.
“The Bear” is a tasty treat of a show that you will love and tell your friends about. Once you’ve had seconds, you’ll want thirds.