In June 2022, Hulu released a new original television show that introduced audiences to the life of the food industry, doubling as an advertisement to get people interested in working in the food industry.
Set in Chicago, “The Bear” follows a former chef from the fine dining world as he is sent back to his hometown after the sudden death of his brother. He is now the owner of his brother’s inefficient and scattered sandwich shop as well as his debts. By the end of the series, we are left just as stressed and burned out as the rest of the chefs. According to people who have worked in restaurants before, the show is very accurate.
Viewers are tossed into the fire of the food industry from the beginning of the show. And it does not stop. Accompanied by a stellar soundtrack, we are shown scenes reminiscent of Danny Boyle’s directing of the chefs frantically chopping and peeling. There are moments where the chefs are focusing on 20 other things or they are vehemently prepping for the lunch rush. These moments are compared with the glances to the clock ticking down to open. Using Shakespeare’s technique of time, there’s one moment where it feels as if five minutes has gone by, but the chefs have actually lost an hour. The scenes feel as if there are moments missing from the progress, representing to the audience how time is obsolete in the kitchen. The minutes of rest are severely sought after for workers and viewers alike. We are only shown what is going on in the kitchen. Very rarely are we given insight of what is happening outside of the kitchen.
We endure 30 minutes of cursing and verbal abuse just for the episode to end when the restaurant is opening. It is an interesting choice of storytelling since the kitchen staff are normally side characters in TV shows. Now, we don’t get to see what happens upfront with the customers, much like chefs in real life. However, one point of contention is that the episodes end abruptly. For example, the seventh episode shows an instance of extreme stress and pressure placed upon the chefs when they are trying to fulfill pre-order orders. Some of the chefs are not doing what they are supposed to do and they do not understand that the immediate focus is on the pre-orders. It causes the lead chef, Carmen Beraztto, to lash out and have a worker quit on the spot. The episode ends with her quitting, but we do not get to see how the rest of the events that caused her to quit pan out. The next episode begins with what feels like a few days after the events, but with no mention of how they handled the situation. It is completely forgotten and they let it go past them.
Jeremy Allen White portrays the lead chef and owner Carmen. White is known for his role of Lip in Shameless. His acting captures the image of a man who is trying to keep his life together quite well. Ayo Edebiri plays Sydney; we are shown that she is extremely talented but has never worked in a restaurant before. We watch as the industry transforms her from timid to grabbing the bull by its horns. Ebon Moss-Bachrach plays Richie, the friend of Carmen’s brother and manager of the restaurant. He fears that Carmen and Sydney are ruining the essence of the restaurant (and what is left of his friend) by tainting it with fine dining techniques. He fights to keep it the way it was when Carmen’s brother owned the restaurant. Alongside them are the veteran line cooks that are stubborn to the new changes and the occasional drop-in from Carmen’s sister who helps keep him sane. Viewers are surprised by guest stars of Joel McHale and Molly Ringwald.
The end of the show was ambiguous. It felt that it could have ended after this season and viewers would have been happy with it. Likewise, the show also has the potential to run for multiple seasons. As of July, the show has been renewed for a second season. Each character already had a significant arc, meaning that it could make or break the second season. As for now, we just have to wait for the restaurant to reopen.