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‘Beef’ and ‘The Bear’ have gotten awards season love, and that says lot about us

Netflix’s “Beef” and FX/Hulu’s “The Bear” are enjoying the kind of awards season hot streak that so many shows wish they could cook up.

But the success being experienced by two series – on the surface quite different – speaks to what viewers are hungering for: stories that examine the space where America’s “haves” and “have lesses” meet.

In “Beef” – a title that refers to the slang term for a disagreement – Ali Wong and Steven Yeun play two characters who meet in a road rage incident that spirals into the ultimate revenge fantasy for anyone who has ever been flipped off by a fellow driver.

In the initial confrontation, Wong’s Amy is driving a Mercedes-Benz GLC 300. Yeun’s Danny drives an older model Tacoma. The way their feud unfolds in the 10 proceeding episodes highlights the inequity that is introduced in that scene.

Steven Yeun and Ali Wong star in "Beef." - Courtesy of Netflix
Steven Yeun and Ali Wong star in "Beef." - Courtesy of Netflix

“The Bear,” meanwhile, stars Jeremy Allen White as a fine-dining chef who returns home to run his family owned sandwich shop, fictitious midwest restaurant called “The Original Beef of Chicagoland.”

In the second season, the name of the restaurant changes, and that’s not the only thing that does. As the blue-collar staff are asked to join Allen’s Carmy in establishing a fine-dining restaurant, it requires many of them – some unaware of Carmy’s own rise from difficult circumstances – to begin believing they are worthy of the chance to elevate their professional lives.

It’s beautiful and moving, whether you hunger for food or something deeper in life.

Though vastly different in terms of plot points and approach to storytelling, the series share a dark humor that is, in some ways, reflective of the dark times we live in at the moment. And as they say, sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying.

Edwin Lee Gibson as Ebraheim, Lionel Boyce as Marcus, Liza Colón-Zayas as Tina, Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Richard "Richie" Jerimovich, Matty Matheson as Neil Fak in "The Bear." - Chuck Hodes/FX
Edwin Lee Gibson as Ebraheim, Lionel Boyce as Marcus, Liza Colón-Zayas as Tina, Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Richard "Richie" Jerimovich, Matty Matheson as Neil Fak in "The Bear." - Chuck Hodes/FX

Both shows are critically acclaimed and have have been sweeping award shows this season, most recently winning multiple Emmy Awards, and it’s not hard to see why.

In Carmy and Danny, audiences have found the anti-heroes we didn’t even know we needed. In the talented and diverse ensemble casts, the perfect vehicles to further explore the deep issues at the center.

To put it simply, they are both delicious viewing that feed into a simple idea: When TV reflects the world, viewers will always order more.

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