The Bear is frantic, intense and deeply loveable – that’s why it’s one of the best series of 2022

The Bear is the much talked-about series of the year, but the critical acclaim is only one reason why this show deserves your screen time, according to one Stylist writer. 

Warning: this article contains spoilers for Disney+’s The Bear.

If you’ve been anywhere on social media lately, you’ll know that there are certain TV shows and films that cut through the noise and rise triumphantly through the ‘best things to watch this year’ rankings. The Bear is undoubtedly one of them. 

Since its US release in June, it’s drummed up a fair share of fanfare: it’s achieved the coveted 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, people are now mildly obsessed with classic white T-shirts and many are calling it one of the year’s best comedies. And I’m here to confirm that The Bear really is worth your time and attention, and you too will want to add it to your personal canon of beloved shows.

A comedy-drama about a rundown sandwich restaurant may not seem to everyone’s taste, but whether you’re a well-versed foodie or couldn’t care less about Michelin stars, The Bear will lure you in with its easy charm. 

Jeremy Allen White leads the cast of Disney+’s The Bear.

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The series follows award-winning young chef Carmen ‘Carmy’ Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White), who leaves New York’s fine dining scene and returns to Chicago to run the family business – The Original Beef sandwich shop – after the heartbreaking death of his brother. It’s a complete change for Carmy – not just in terms of career direction but also for his personal creativity. He has to acclimatise to a working environment he’s clearly over-qualified for, slowly but surely convincing his new kitchen ‘family’ – including his late brother’s stubborn best friend Richard ‘Richie’ Jerimovich (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) – to make meaningful changes.

The plotline may seem niche but you don’t need to be a Top Chef or Chef’s Table connoisseur to get onboard with the brilliance of this drama. And we mean it when we say that The Bear really is unlike anything else on TV right now. It manages to weave together storylines about the trials of small business ownership and relatable (read: stressful) family dynamics with thoughtful ruminations on loss and the male ego. And it does all that while slotting in slivers of effortless humour.

The whole series is shot in a magnified way to mirror the fast-paced nature of a professional kitchen. It adds to the tension and leaves you feeling so immersed in the action of the small kitchen, you almost have to catch yourself. You’re so immersed in its hyperfocused world that even when a vat of homemade vegetable stock comes crashing to the floor – one that has just had to be redone and simmered for 30 minutes – you almost feel Sydney’s pang of pain personally. “Just keep going,” fellow chef Marcus (Lionel Boyce) says, and it’s like he’s speaking to the viewer. 

The Bear: Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Ayo Edebiri star as Richard “Richie” Jerimovich and Sydney.

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While you may tune in for the laughs and the drama, the dynamics between all the characters are something that will keep you hooked on The Bear. The main loveable character is ambitious sous-chef Sydney (Ayo Edebiri), who is a newcomer and only person aside from Carmy with any professional culinary training. She’s also (rather hilariously) the only one who knows how prestigious Carmy’s previous restaurant, Noma, is. And because of her experience, she knows that Carmy’s transformation mission is a great one but presents a 27-page notebook on what they can do better – an organised queen after my own heart.

But most interestingly, it’s through Sydney that we see Carmy’s more gentle and thoughtful side start to rear its head. For the most part, he’s a pent-up ball of stress that may just about be keeping it together, but amid the incessant kitchen orders of “hands”, “chef” and running up a hefty bill with farm fresh produce, he has to also live a new life without his brother. 

The story of his sibling’s death is one that quietly unfolds in the background of the series, never far but passively mentioned by suppliers who enquire as to his whereabouts, or by Ebraheim (Edwin Lee Gibson) who confesses to clearly never really knowing his boss. Like any good series based in reality, it deals with loss and the many ways people go about dealing with it: purposefully busying their lives so as not to think about it for too long. But in doing so, we see the impact it has on Carmy and those around him. 

The Bear: Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Richard “Richie” Jerimovich and Jeremy Allen White as Carmen ‘Carmy’ Berzatto.

Even so, this isn’t a sad drama at all. It’s one that is immersive, funny but also strangely heartwarming. The ASMR-like shots of chopping onions, sizzling steaks and reducing sauces sit in among Carmy hectically battling against his new surroundings. But we also get to see how each individual starts to find their newfound culinary feet and it’s a frantic joy to watch.

Whether you’re a foodie or not, the powerful performances will make lapping up all eight episodes almost too easy – don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The Bear is now available to stream on Disney+. 

Images: Disney+

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