Starring Steven Yeun, Ali Wong, Joseph Lee, Young Mazino and created by Lee Sung Jin. The first time I tried to watch Beef on Netflix, I watched it for a minute and then turned it off. Conflict was not what I was searching for in that moment. I thought the show was going to be about world-class chefs. Instead, I was thrust into a road rage situation and I veered away a.s.a.p. But, since this review exists, you can gather that at one point I gave this show another try.

What makes this show great:

Before I get into the gut of the review, I want to encourage you to watch this show without knowing anything about it. This is your chance to stop reading, watch the show, and hopefully come back.

Danny (Steven Yeun) and Amy (Ali Wong) do not like each other. In fact, they don’t just “not like each other,” they despise each other. When they meet each other during a road rage incident, their lives instantly become intertwined as the conflict steadily and haphazardly increases.

As I previously established, I was not always a fan of this show. It took getting through the first scene for me to get hooked. Then quickly I got dialed into the characters, their needs, and their many weaknesses. One incredible detail that stood out to me was the great job Lee Sung Jin, the creator of the show, did at interweaving Asian cultural references into the plot, without making them overtly obvious or distracting. For example, in Episode 3 Amy says, “My mom told me that the first time she heard birds singing was when she came to America. In Vietnam, during the war, they ate all the birds.” The amount of emotional depth in this quote is deafening yet so visual.

In Episode 4, Danny reasons, “Italians, they’re the same as us. Peninsula mentality.” As an Italian, I found this hilarious.

But Beef doesn’t just provide comedy, it also provides wisdom, such as when Danny’s mom preaches, “When you acknowledge the worry, you solidify it into existence.” She goes on even further in Episode 6 and says, “All you have is perception. There is no objective truth, you create the truth you want to inhabit.” Woah! I feel like I just took a psychology class and came out the other side.

After the Incident

Following a huge violent event in Episode 10, Danny and Amy find themselves in a situation where it would benefit them both to stick together. But Danny makes it very clear, “I am not helping you unless you use nice words.” Of course, this leads to bickering, but also honesty. Exhaustion prompts Amy to spill, “When nowhere feels like home, you just retreat into yourself.”

After some questionable food choices later, they both go a little lucid. “If God is everything then we’re God.” “A baby with mobility and strength is just a serial killer.” These scenes bring Danny and Amy closer together and help close the gap that they once believed separated them. At one point, when they are sure that they are going to die and they admit, “We should have done this more often.” “What a waste.” “At least we did it once.”

from Netflix on YouTube

That Last Scene

I was left in awe of the last scene so I watched interviews to learn more about how the scene came to be. Jin mentioned how he thought about a Ram Dass quote while the show was filming: “We’re all just walking each other home.” I found this quote brilliant. It has the potential to lead you down so many different paths of deep, vulnerable thought.

In the interview, Ali Wong mentioned how the show gave her the opportunity to explore how she has felt “being angrily seemingly together,” which I can relate to. For me, being in pain everyday is a struggle in itself, but having people look at you and dictate that you are fine because you look “fine” really takes a toll on you. Through the interview, I also learned that the ending, hospital bed scene was actually Ali’s idea, “You see two people who have been through a lot, holding each other.”

I loved this scene: two people seeing each other for who they are and accepting it for what it is. By this point, they both understand the depths of hell they had been both inhabiting for so long, just trying to get by and provide for everyone else in their lives but themselves. And then Danny’s hand subtly moves to show that he is alive. TOO MUCH!

People, People, People

I found the over-arching message of the show to be that the people meant for you can love you as you are and everything that entails. Through life, people change and encounter hard times, but when someone matters enough, you do everything in your power to help them and keep your relationship strong. Sometimes this means drifting away for a little while as you both go through different cycles in your life, but if a relationship means enough to both parties, it will prevail.

This makes me think about the scene where Danny realizes that he drove away with June (Remy Holt) in his car. She was not supposed to be in his car, but he could not drive her home because then he would risk being caught by the police for another crime he committed. He decides to bring her back to his place instead of dropping her off at some random place because he did not want something bad to happen to her. To repeat, Danny decided to keep her “safe” by keeping her with him. Even though he was the one who kidnapped her in the first place.

My Favorite Quotes

“You think they’re going to want their grandkids to look up at them with huge, bug eyes?”

“As you get older, time speeds up because when you’re one year old, it feels like a while because that’s a hundred percent of your time. But as you get older, it’s less and less percentage of your total time lived.” (Episode 7)

“If you looked back all the time, you’d crash.” (Episode 8)

“We’re still here?” *intense laughter* (Episode 10)

My Rating: 9.5/10

There is still so much I could write about this TV series. I think that is one of the ways you can tell if a work of art is successful: does it make you think? Beef made me think. From the writing, to the acting, to the irony and the crazy relatability of it all. I am all in.

You know that scene where Danny and Amy suddenly get service and receive all of the texts that they have missed while being stranded in the desert? That’s how my brain feels after watching Beef. So many thoughts are coming in and it’s not a bad thing.

How could this series be better? I don’t know. Then why did I not rate it a 10? I hated when teachers gave me a 90 on an assignment and did not offer comments on how I could have improved. But TV shows are not assignments, and this is my blog so I can do whatever I want. Now I think about it, this was probably my teacher’s thought process too. They probably didn’t care how the 100 could have boosted my G.P.A. and got me a better scholarship.

Maybe this show would have been better if I was in it. Oh wait, no. That would have made it worse because I would have been fixating on me and what I was doing with my face.

Sentence Summary

The frustrated Danny and Amy engage in a road rage incident that quickly leads to a turning point in both of their lives.

Where you can watch it:

You can watch this show on Netflix. Maybe the next season with be called Seitan.


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