The Return of The Bear and Its Insanely Impressive Season One

The Bear was one of the most talked about shows in 2022, and rightfully so. Audiences were exposed to the reality of owning a restaurant, coupled with the stress of working alongside one’s family. At the beginning of this year, it was announced that the hit TV show was up for a second season renewal; a teaser trailer posted just a few weeks ago has fans anxious and excited.

This show received many awards during its first season, including the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for Jeremy Allen White, the series’ leading actor. The Bear has audiences absorbed, but why? Let me tell you.

Season one introduced us to The Beef, one of Chicago’s beloved and staple restaurants. The restaurant was originally owned by Michael Berzatto until his death, leaving the family business to his estranged, younger brother, Carmen Berzatto (played by Jeremy Allen White). While Michael was running The Beef, the two brothers became increasingly distant, despite their plans to open a restaurant together. During this time, Carmen became one of the best chefs in the highest-ranked restaurant Eleven Madison Park. After his brother passed, he’s left to clean house.

The Beef has an array of issues, ranging from financial obstacles to administrative challenges. The restaurant employs Michael’s best friend and the Berzatto family “cousin” Richard (played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach). A stubborn, old-school Italian who likes everything to run the same, Richard constantly butts heads with Carmen as he runs the show. Also working there are the wise and loving Tina (played by Liza Colón-Zayas), the passionate and desert-driven Marcus (played by L-Boy), and the new, well-educated chef who immediately clicks with Carmen, Sydney (played by Ayo Edebiri).

As The Beef is reimagined, a hierarchy becomes established, and the old-school chefs try everything in their power to keep things like they were. During all of this, Carmen himself struggles mentally, carrying the guilt from his brother’s death along with his own baggage from his previous job.

In the last season of The Bear, we left off on episode eight “Braciole” with the closing of The Beef and the announcement of its new opening and renaming as The Bear. Chef Sydney has returned to the restaurant with Carmen’s promise to reinvent it upon discovering $300,000 Michael hid in the tomato cans in the restaurant. This discovery relieved a financial burden left behind by Michael and served as a comfort to Carmen; he now knew that his brother was planning to open a restaurant with him all along.

The Bear surpassed the expectations of any TV show. Despite its incredible cast and their on-screen chemistry, the show demonstrated impressive skills in directing, writing, and acting. In the first episode of the show, the audience was immediately thrown into the fast-paced, loud environment of the kitchen with quick camera movements. The shots are fast and close, making the viewers nervous as if they are in the kitchen themselves.

In the astounding episode seven “Review,” the stress of the kitchen was captured in a 17-minute one-take shot. After Sydney opens the restaurant’s new to-go program, she forgets to turn off the order ahead option, causing an overflow of orders. The show admits this scene only took the actors about four to five times to master. Takes like this leave no room for mistakes and demonstrate the show’s impressive dedication to share what the characters feel. Jeremy Allen White also delivers a moving seven-minute monologue in his therapy program where he talks about his brother and gives the viewers more insight into their relationship and when it began to fall apart.

In addition to all this, the show stays true to Chicago as it was actually filmed in Chicago. It includes Chicago-native foods and pieces of conversation that give a nod to the windy city. This is also seen in some of the show’s music, including the demo version of Sufjan Stevens’ “Chicago”—a song he wrote in dedication to the city where he escaped to in pursuit of learning what life is all about.

The Bear packs a lot into eight episodes. You meet new characters and immediately want them to succeed while everything seems to go against them. The Bear demonstrates struggle and hard times, but, most importantly, it shows how family always comes out on top. I consider The Bear the best show aired in recent years. I have re-watched it multiple times now, and it impresses me more and more after each watch. As The Beef closes, many other fans and I cannot wait to see what is in store for the new and improved The Bear.