There is one word the internet uses to describe FX on Hulu's The Bear – stressful. Now, I know why.
The Bear stars Jeremy Allen White (of Shameless fame), Ebon Moss Bachrach, Ayo Edebiri, Lionel Boyce, Liza Colon-Zayas, and Abby Elliot. Carmy, played by Allen, is a renowned fine dining chef who returns home to Chicago when he inherits the family sandwich shop. Met with resistance from his late brother's best friend and an improperly trained kitchen staff, he must deal with his grief while trying to keep the struggling restaurant afloat.
From the show's first scenes, the viewer is thrust into a world of rhythmic chaos. The first few minutes of quiet shh's from Allen's character's attempt to tame a bear on a city street is one of the only moments of silence in the entire season. The quick cuts, fast movements, and foul-mouthed conversations constantly happening over each other imbue the viewer with stress similar to that of the characters.
Despite causing a fire from cooking boxed frozen food while sleeping, unruly rants from Ebon Moss Bachrach's character, a blown power fuze, a spewing toilet, and increasingly intense and emotional arguments, none of these events compare to the panic attack-inducing episode seven entitled Review. The restaurant and Carmy hit a pinnacle moment of overwhelmed and uncontrollable pandemonium. The director, Christopher Storer, forces us, as viewers, to experience that pandemonium alongside the characters by making most of the episode a single shot. The continuous chaos and the tension boil to the point of seemingly no return for Carmy, making him resort to the toxic behavior exhibited by his previous bosses that he was aiming to avoid all season.
Unlike Jon Favreau's Chef, a movie that reminded viewers of the homey feelings food can bring, The Bear shows the opposite side of the food industry. Despite the great pride the employees feel when making a dish that tastes good, the complete disintegration of confidence that comes with making the slightest mistake is far more apparent. Carmy equated making a cooking mistake with dying and worthlessness, yet he would make himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and eat Doritos for dinner at home.
Frankly, the perceived stress the viewer feels is from the reality that is so perfectly portrayed by the show. Whether it be the effects of grief, the craziness of working in a restaurant environment, the struggle of trying to make a small business work, being so passionate about something it consumes you, begrudgingly following your boss's orders, or impatiently waiting for success to hit, every person watching the show can relate to it. We feel the characters' stress because we have lived it in one form or another.
Regardless of the encompassing stress, the characters and viewers learn that leaning on people who care about you is the only way to get past the chaos. The stress makes that sigh of relief at the end of it all the more enjoyable. In the case of the show's characters, that beautiful sigh of relief reminds them why they put themselves through it all, to begin with – for the love of making food.
The Bear has already been renewed for season 2, the premiere date pending.
Until then, stream The Bear on Hulu.