The Bear is a 2022 American comedy-drama series created by Christopher Storer. The primary genres of the show are categorised into comedy and drama but the show’s genres can be further classified as food-drama-comedy (exactly in that order) because food plays a very crucial role in the story as well as the characters’ development. The basic premise of the show follows a young chef from the world of fine dining who is forced to come home to Chicago to run his family’s Italian beef sandwich shop after his older brother commits suicide, leaving behind debt, a rundown kitchen and the most unruly and chaotic staff. The Bear is both predictable and unpredictable in parts which keeps you entertained and on the edge throughout.
“Delicious is impressive”
I think the above mentioned quote holds true for the show as well. The show is both delicious and impressive which according to me is very hard to pull off for a food show/movie because it is often seen that the makers usually are not able to find the right balance between the food, the emotions and the story. And I can understand it can be quite difficult to keep all these elements steady because you need to keep the audience entertained with the story while also keeping them invested with the glorious food shots because let’s face it, food shots are the money shots in food shows/movies. But the show surprised me with its ability to reel in the right amount of emotions for the characters and the food because it plays on a very simple and effective hook that “Food is the ingredient that binds us together”. And the best part is that the writers have done this very cautiously with the use of a mildly non-linear screenplay which also helped in breaking the monotony in certain sequences. It was also nice to see that the writers have not spoon fed the audience with detailed backstory and have instead given us littles pieces of information about the characters that help us empathise with them over the course of the show because I personally feel that a movie/show about food is also about the inner exploration of various characters and their relationship with the food, and The Bear has executed that rather well.
The chaotic nature of both the kitchens that our main lead has worked on is mind-blowingly depicted in The Bear through its editing and cinematography. The screenplay writer should also be credited for this but I personally feel that the highlight for me in this show was its visually aesthetic and quirky shot sequences. There are some brilliant one-take shots around the loud and chaotic Italian kitchen along with some pristine shots from the Michelin star kitchens. And what’s interesting is that both these distinct environments will still make you feel the tension in the rooms in completely different ways. A huge shout out to the editor of this series for making the narrative so crisp and tight to support the intensity of the storyline. The editing style is chaotic which is reflective of the screenplay but is also very interesting to watch because the chaos in the story is often followed by moments of stillness. You can never be sure if it’s calm before the storm or after it. The show does not shy away from the fact that it’s an homage to Chicago and the love/hate for the city is reflected through some really beautiful montages of the city and its people. The montages are casual, candid and authentic that depicts the city’s history and spirit very aesthetically. The music added a very unique flavour to the series that was both surprising and intriguing for me.
The Bear caught me a little off-guard because I wasn’t expecting that the show would deal with complex topics like death and grief but I was glad to see how sensitively and realistically they were portrayed and their impact on the characters’ lives. Overall the show was a wholesome and satisfying watch with some brilliant performances, top-notch production and interesting execution.