The Walking Dead star Steven Yeun’s Beef is uncomfortably brilliant
beef There will be no spoilers in this review.
before the show release, beef told star Ali Wong The Hollywood Reporter“I was prepared not to have much fun on the show.” And on paper, it’s easy to see why.
Produced by A24 for Netflix, beef follows two strangers named Danny Cho and Amy Lau who are deeply unhappy in their own lives. Steven Yeun’s contractor struggles with a lack of work and money, while Wong’s entrepreneur faces the opposite problem and gets lost in a seemingly perfect life that exhausts her on all fronts.
Just when it seems like things couldn’t get any worse, the two face a whole new level of misery and bitterness when they both become involved in a traffic incident that neither of them can let go of.
“I’ve been pushing my whole life… and look where it’s gotten me,” Danny says at the beginning of the series, in the midst of the rush. Amy also works hard to support her family and business, but she also struggles to make some time for herself. The incident distils every negative feeling they both have into a desperate need for revenge that drives them even as they run for steam.
Now, that doesn’t sound like “a lot of fun,” but this revenge that drives Danny and Amy is often a petty, sadistic kind of revenge that draws as many laughs as it gasps in horror. Telephones, cars, and even “European oak floors” are all victims of this ongoing beef in increasingly absurd ways.
Trust former it’s always sunny in Philadelphia Writer Lee Sung Jin to find the funny in such a ruthless conceit. like this show beef also sometimes has a playful delight in cruelty. However, that doesn’t mean we fully agree with Netflix’s description beef as “comedy”.
Sure, you’ll laugh at times, but the horror of what’s really going on here will also make you feel deeply uncomfortable. Despite some memorable moments, including a particularly stirring gun scene, you not see in the trailerwill find some beef unrelenting nihilism, just a little too unrelenting, even with the humor scattered throughout.
Issues around class and mental health and how it all affects life as an Asian American hit hard here precisely because they are So realistic compared to the revenge arc they are hanging from. And even the anger itself is quite understandable, as it stems from the same kind of helplessness we all inevitably feel at some point. “We live in a society,” as the meme says.
That constant, underlying tension might have done it beef a tough sell if it weren’t for Yeun and Wong. Afterwards reunited on television Tuca & Berties Cancel, their new roles here couldn’t be more different than Bertie and Speckle if they tried.
Steven Yeun continues his enviable lineup of roles with Danny, channeling the innate charisma we’ve seen of him so effortlessly nope, minary, And the Walking Dead. This time around, however, his star quality is purposely muted and nearly stifled by the circumstances his character finds himself in.
Maybe things would have been different if life had just given Danny its right hand. Or maybe it really is his fault that everything turned out the way it did. This nuance is thanks to both the writers and Yeun, who toy with notions of destiny and responsibility with this downtrodden man who tries but often doesn’t do the right thing.
“I’m so sick of smiling,” Danny tells his brother as he answers a call from their mom, complete with a signature Yeun smile. Only the cracks in this facade are all too clear.
Amy’s smile is similarly used as a mask and also as a defense mechanism. How else can she survive the endless pressures of her life when everyone around her keeps telling Amy how much they envy her?
Wong’s comedic skills are on full display here, oscillating between comedy and tragedy and the shades of gray in between in every scene. Whether you’re laughing with Amy, frustrated by her privilege, or just can’t believe what she’s doing, you will believe it all thanks to Wong’s best performance yet.
The success of beef but of course it lies with both Wong and Yeun. Neither Danny nor Amy are particularly sympathetic to what they do, but that somehow makes us root for them more even as we know their obsessive need for revenge will only lead to pain and ruin for everyone involved.
“I was prepared not to have much fun on the show,” Wong said in the aforementioned interview, and you may not need to rely on your bandwidth for visceral, uncomfortable storytelling, either.
But if you give him a chance beef is as bold and unpredictable as the genres it navigates, shifting from drama and comedy to tragedy and even horror in a beautifully shot, exceptionally well acted show that could very well be among your favorites of the year.
Just don’t blame us if you disagree.
beef will be available to stream on Netflix April 6th.