Who ISN'T watching The Bear on Hulu right now? Its second season just recently dropped on Hulu and the show is making all the lists of must-see TV. Robb and I started binging it this week and haven't been able to stop. Fifteen seconds into the pilot you'll know why. This isn't one of those shows you casually dick around on your phone while watching. This is gripping, intense, and subtle art. It's loud- set in the cacophany of a slammed classic sandwich shop in the River North area of Chicago- but a lot is accomplished in silent exchanges, extreme close-ups of faces, food. There's a lot of thoughtful silence in the noise.
The characters come together shortly after the death by suicide of Michael, the owner of The Beef, the sandwich place the family has owned for years. His little brother, Carmen ("Carmy") inherits the restaurant and comes back from a wildly successful run as head chef of some of the best restaurants in the world to run the shop and figure out what's going on with his family. He hires a talented young chef and they figure out how to take The Beef and its fabulous crew to the next level The casting is PERFECT. The show is fast-paced and thrilling, and digs into some great character/mental health stuff. If you've ever worked in a kitchen, you'll find yourself right back in the stress and excitement of it. This show WILL make you hungry, so be prepared with hot sandwiches to snack on while you watch. Also, you'll INTEND to only watch one episode when you start it at 11pm and you will end up watching three or four at a time, so don't get into it unless you're prepared to lose sleep.
I've seen it described as the sexiest show with no sex in it, and I think that's apt. The energy is constantly charged and there's that sensual food pron thing, but also the leads are pretty hot.
If you're wishing you got to see more (skin and performance) of the lead, Jeremy Allen White (Carmy), let me lead you over to Shameless, where he played Lip Gallagher in another ensemble show set in Chicago (this time the South Side/the Yards)
Laid up with a bad back, I've been hella binging Shameless on Netflix the past few weeks. It originally ran on Showtime from 2014-2021and was based on the UK Shameless, that ran from 2004-2013 (other versions include Bizim Hikaye in Turkey, Hamari Kahani in Pakistan, and a Russian version called Besstydniki). All of them are about a big scrappy family with dysfunctional parents and not much money in a tight community.
I'm watching the one set in Chicago, because I speak midwestern best. This one stars William H. Macy (Fargo) Jeremy Allen White (The Bear),Joan Cusack (everything),Emmy Rossum (Phantom of the Opera), and a whole bunch more talented people.
There is a lot of sex in this show, so no worries, if you're not getting enough pawing in The Bear. A looooooootttt of sex. There's also violence, drinking, drugs, and crimes of all flavors. And ALL the butts and boobs, often moving at a medium pace in rhythm with another person (or several people).
I don't find shows entertaining when they're exploiting people. I hate sexual violence, torture, trauma....and this show walks that line, but doesn't cross it. I don't find it a bummer, just fun. The kids don't come off as victims, as they love the shit out of each other and have all learned to fend for themselves. They are next-level resourceful and somehow, even those that have suffered most, have had to sacrifice a ton, they find joy and fun in life. They're optimistic, smart, creative and even the asshole villains (primarily their dad, Frank, played FULLY COMMITTED by William H. Macy) are funny and impossibly charming, even when doing despicable things. It always stops just short of horrifying. And it's all just really fucking funny, wacky, well-written, and highly entertaining. It ends up making you feel hopeful.
The cast is enormous and comes in and out like any other shows with a run this long. Some of the early scenes with the whole family in the kitchen of the house feels a lot like moments in The Bear, where it's tightly choreographed to get that many bodies doing their thing simultaneously in a tight space. Also, both these shows make Chicago look cool and COLD. The Bear shot on location, but most of Shameless was shot in LA. Still, everyone's teeth are always chattering.
So, in summary: watch The Bear on Hulu and Shameless (if you're feeling spicy) on Netlfix or Showtime. Wrap up in many blankets and have a big ol' pile of snacks ready.