‘The Bear’ is grounded, raw television

FX show shows the potency of real human conflict  

A new season is coming in the summer.
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Don’t let the title fool you—The Bear, TV has little to do with animals. Streaming on Disney+, it’s grounded, gritty, and acts as a refreshment from the high fantasy and sci-fi that dominates television today.
 
The Bear focuses on the cooks of a small Chicago sandwich shop and the ways they chafe against the expectations of their new boss, Carmen ‘Carmy’ Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White), a rising star inthe world of high-class French cuisine. 
 
FX confirmed last week The Bear will be returning for a second season with 10 episodes this summer. So, given its success, here’s why it’s so good, and why you should watch it.
 
Grief, anxiety, and interpersonal drama are the driving forces behind this show. Unlike a lot of television I’m familiar with, there’s no central villain—nothing to defeat. The main challenge for the characters is learning how to cope, lean on each other, and work together in hard times. 
 
The characters’ interactions seem crass and aggressive on the surface, but the dialogue is cleverly and realistically written. The characters stutter so naturally, and they swear as if it’s unintentional. The back-and-forth between the arguing characters are full of overlapping yells that make the arguments appear unrehearsed. It’s incredibly well-acted.
 
This idea is best seen between Carmy and Richard ‘Richie’ Jerimovich (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) two family friends reeling after the death of Carmy’s brother, the previous owner of the shop. Their interactions hint naturally at a larger history between the two of them, but their arguments also indicate real familiar affection. They switch between fighting and working together to keep the shop running with the ease of siblings. 
 
Richie’s stubbornness against Carmy’s changes to the shop shape a lot of the main conflict of the series. It’s a realistic take on what it means to be family and how a community copes with a loss. The two’s mutual grief leaks into their fights and how they interact with the shop, the employees, and other people in their lives.
 
The inherent drama the show’s high-intensity cooking and kitchen management scenes provides is elevated by the poignant stresses these working-class people face on a day-to-day basis. The conflicts may feel small in the grand scheme of things, but the emotions they bring out are large and important. 
 
These experiences plus the gritty set pieces combine to make a show that’s humble and grounded. The characters are dressed in greasy aprons and wrinkled shirts, giving the aura or people who actually lived and worked in those clothes. 
 
The sets are designed with the same familiar messes we recognize from our own neighbourhood sandwich shops; it looks like a year of food work and grit layered on top of each other, contributing to the warm feel of the environment. 
 
The Bear is so great because it stays real and laces every bit of character interaction with mountains of meaning. It doesn’t need fantasy or sci-fi elements to drive its plot or engage the viewer; all it needs is reality.
 
The show reminds us of the importance of the smaller things in life, like how important it is to stay true to your community, while evolving at the same time. It stays grounded and gritty to the very end.
 

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