One of the most worthwhile television shows of late has been The Bear, an incredibly intense and beautiful series that follows an ensemble cast of people who try to turn a simple, neighbourhood restaurant in Chicago into a world class establishment. Central to the story is Carmine “Carmy” Berzatto, a world renowned chef who, in the wake of his brother’s suicide, inherits the restaurant together with his sister. Carmine is a complex character, and his relationship with his brother was complex too. As the show progresses, it dives into the complexities of relationships, as well as the human experience, in a beautiful way.
Despite this beauty, the show tends to be quite raw. Carmy comes from a dysfunctional and self-destructive family who bring out the best and worst in each other. When I watch an episode, I do so with a mixture of fascination, revulsion and recognition. I know all of these people because I grew up around them. Each character on the show represents someone in my family. Each event has a parallel in mine. Each triumph, each celebration, and each failure and disappointment. Each barely controlled fear and anxiety which results in a fight or argument. I recognise them all.
There is a flashback episode in season two, which shows a Christmas celebration, which features a few characters that are not on the show in the main timeline. Jamie Lee Curtis plays Carmy’s mother, and Jon Bernthal plays Carmy’s older brother. They deserve all the accolades. I both hate and love these characters, as much as I hate and love who they represent(ed) in my own life.
What a beautiful show. A beautiful, beautiful, ugly show. I get emotional just thinking about it.