The Bear premieres with the well-deserved reputation of being the revelation series of the season. After its premiere on Hulu on 23 June, the series has received accolades from all corners of the world.
The action is set in contemporary Chicago. A renowned chef moves there, and decides to free himself from the demanding burden of a Michelin restaurant to focus instead on running a small Italian sandwich shop. All around him, in a constant hustle and bustle, different profiles of kitchen buddies and managers try to keep the family business afloat.
The viewer falls into the pressure cooker of this modest restaurant without any prior information or introductions. A frenetic immersion through the interior of the kitchen that, little by little, with the reflection of its occupants on the plates, fridges, and cookers, uncovers the personalities of the characters and their connection with a human loss, which acts as one of the main mysteries of the plot, as well as a link between different characters.
What we discover among these fast-paced dynamics and heart-racing days is also the study of the pressure of success and the Make Money with which the American system strangles its citizens. And it approaches it from a rabidly contemporary prism, dealing with the anxieties, depressions, addictions, and suicides derived from this feverish drive for money and success; a society that puts work and the accumulation of dollars before other vital aspects, including the very health of those destined to keep the capitalist wheel turning.
Throughout its eight short episodes, we witness the pressure of running a culinary business and establishing those internal dynamics that are alien to the customers. And it does so within a dramatic framework, with a few comic exits as a vent – it is hard to understand why the label of dramatic comedy has been extended to refer to this product -, which is resolved as we get to know the past, and the present torments, of the central character. This chef is played formidably by Jeremy Allen White (Shameless), an actor called to great deeds in the next casting rounds. He has already been enlisted to join the main cast of Sean Durkin‘s new feature film.
He’s not the only one shining in this feverish culinary drama. Ebon Moss-Bachrach as the volcanic manager and Ayo Edebiri‘s cheeky, novice look as the chef’s assistant are other acting assets, not to mention two cameos we’d rather not reveal. Also its soundtrack, with old and rarely used songs by Wilco, Radiohead, Van Morrison or Genesis, distinguish the singularity of the proposal.
Produced by A24 —that audiovisual label that acts as a guarantor of quality in the current timeline— and with Hiro Murai as executive producer, The Bear stands out as a fictional product that, under that frenetic device (heated through the production and editing) that captures the daily hustle and bustle around culinary gestation, absorbs a slow-cooked dramatic broth that, without realising it, settles in the epidermis of the spectator, who recognises, at the end of the journey, the attractive dimensionality of its characters especially that of its protagonist.
The culinary master in its meritorious preparation is Christopher Storer, a veteran of stand-up specials and as a director in Ramy, who now jumps to the profile of showrunner in this fiction that he began to develop after the suicide of a close friend and which has already been renewed for a second season.