Share on social media
Find More Watercooler Picks
Things take a turn for the worse when Danny Cho and Amy Luo, two people on the verge of their breaking points, figure in a road rage incident on the streets of LA. The acrimonious encounter ignites a class war of epic proportions that begins to consume every facet of their lives.
Academy Award nominee and The Walking Dead alum Steven Yeun and Emmy Award nominee and stand-up comedian/actress/writer Ali Wong star along with a predominantly Asian-American cast. Written and directed by Emmy-nominated producer Lee Sung-jin (Silicon Valley).
Beef is an acquired taste–decadent, depraved, yet cathartic. But once you develop a taste for it, you simply can’t get enough.
The filet mignon of stories about pettiness and hostility, the edgy comedy takes a look at how anger can be a source of motivation and creativity when channeled properly. It works as a vicarious vent for our own frustrations: nasty yet somehow therapeutic.
Of course, it’s also about how destructive and misplaced our fury can become.
The show has topped the Netflix charts around the world, and 10 days after its premiere, it’s still percolating in media and social conversations, including where I am in the Philippines. Why, you might wonder? Despite the over the top antics, the story is actually relatable, one that could happen anywhere because people worldwide are frustrated right now. Blame it on the pandemic, the economy, war, the political climate — the list of deeper triggers is long.
My own beef with Hollywood has always been its botched attempt at ‘positive representation,’ where films lazily portray Asians as either two-dimensional characters lacking agency or worse, caricatures that perpetuate racial stereotypes. Beef is an example of what meaningful representation should look like.
Though most of the cast in Beef are Asian Americans, their roles are fully realized, with nuances and flaws, and what transpires could happen to anyone; the characters just happen to be Asian Americans.
Steven Yeun and Ali Wong have great chemistry playing mortal enemies with kindred souls, and they dish out satisfying performances that will entertain, irritate, and in the end make you empathize.
The supporting characters are equally appealing and properly fleshed out. Beef is wonderfully written, and each scene is expertly plated — which makes every plot point easily digestible. The 10-part series just flows, like a 10-course meal that you can consume in one sitting.
It may not offer a solution to dealing with anger issues, but sometimes in order to move forward, we need to tap into the darkest corners of our psyche. Beef exposes the darkness, so we can see the light.
An expertly crafted, deftly directed, and exquisitely acted dark comedy that has all the ingredients of authentic ‘positive representation’. Though Beef doesn’t offer life lessons in its menu, it dishes out an easily digestible cautionary tale that is instructive as much as it is cathartic. Indeed, revenge is best served raw.
Anyone who’s on the brink of breaking would definitely feel seen in this series. Family and friends who are broad-minded, have a twisted sense of humor, support diversity, and can appreciate or relate to the Asian American experience.
The title of every episode of Beef was derived from influential quotes and films. Lee drew inspiration from legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog, psychologist Carl Jung, literary theorist Joseph Campbell, and feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir among others.
Lee described the process of choosing the titles for the show in a Variety interview. “It was fun. We had a shared document in the writers’ room that throughout the writing season that writers threw quotes into. For most of them, it wasn’t until all the scripts were finished that I went back and tried to couple them with the right ones.”