Not sure what we’re talking about?
In between attending Mass (if that’s your thing), scoffing hot cross buns and Easter eggs or even nursing the pains of four-day-long long weekend, if you’ve had the chance to check any social media account over the past 72 hours it would have been impossible to miss the wave of praise being heaped upon new Netflix series Beef, starring comedian and writer Ali Wong and The Walking Dead alum Steven Yuen.
And, after binging the entire 10-episode unhinged road rage drama set in LA, we can confidently confirm that the series not only lives up the hype but is a strong contender as the best show of 2023.
Beef centres around a simple conceit: a chance encounter between two strangers – Amy Lau, a successful yet dissatisfied plant artist who is attempting to sell and step back from her business played by Wong and Danny Cho, a less than successful handyman struggling to make ends meet played by Yuen – at their personal tipping points who not so much tip as they do leap after an incident of road rage. Thus begins their long-running, take no prisoners beef with each other.
But to suggest Beef is a revenge story would be simplistic. Revenge is simply the plot that drives a deep dive into how Amy and Danny, who are ultimately two sides of the same coin, become the scratch posts for each other in acts of cathartic yet ultimately misdirected rage.
And both Amy and Danny have a lot of pent up rage just simmering beneath the surface. Amy is struggling to feel seen in a seemingly perfect world with a successful business, husband and family while Danny, in his own words, has never not been hustling yet success is somehow always just out of reach.
Despite our mention of The Bear as barometer for the show’s magnetic, must-watch appeal Beef is a world apart in its emotional journey. Despite it’s premise, there’s actually very little screaming going on (unless it’s between Amy and Danny).
Where The Bear gloried in its arseholism of the kitchen, Beef doesn’t treat its anger as tokenistic. It’s symptomatic of a lived experience that ranges from passive microagressions from friends and family to lazy racism by white protagonists. (For example, Amy’s staff and business associates regularly speak to her using Japanese terms, despite Amy’s character being of Chinese descent.)
They’re also not just furious about any one thing. It’s everything. There’s a line, shared by both Ali Wong and Steven Yuen at different times in the series, that perhaps sums it all up: “There’s always fucking something.” What both Amy and Danny are missing however, is that the common denominator for these is themselves.
But like most of us, rather than acknowledging that they might be the problem in their own cycle of events, they latch on to something external to blame the grievances on: each other.
Adding to this a banging soundtrack that pulled from the best angst-ridden music from the ’90s that is just *chef’s kiss*.
Beef is now streaming on Netflix.