Beef There will be no spoilers in this review.
The show is ahead liberation Beef – said star Ali Wong The Hollywood Reporter: “I was prepared not to have fun on the show.” And on paper, it’s easy to see why.
Produced by A24 for Netflix, Beef is about two strangers named Danny Cho and Amy Lau who are very, very unhappy in their separate lives. Steven Yeun’s contractor struggles with a lack of work and money, while Wong’s businesswoman faces the opposite problem, losing herself in a seemingly perfect life that exhausts her on all fronts.
Just when it seems like things can’t get any worse, the couple is faced with a whole new level of misery and bitterness when they both get involved in a road accident that neither of them can walk away from.
“I’ve been hustling all my life… and look what it’s gotten me to,” Danny says early in the episode, mid-hustle. Amy also works hard, working to support her family and her business, but she also struggles just to make time for herself. The incident turns all the negative feelings they both feel into one desperate need for revenge that drives them even as they run on fumes.
It doesn’t sound like “a ton of fun,” but this revenge driven by Danny and Amy is often a petty, sadistic revenge that will elicit as many laughs as gasps of horror. Telephones, cars, even “European oak floors” are all victims of this beef, which continues in increasingly absurd ways.
Trust was It’s always sunny in Philadelphia writer Lee Sung-jin to find the funny in such merciless arrogance. like that show Beef also sometimes takes a playful delight in cruelty. However, that doesn’t mean we completely agree with Netflix’s description Beef as “comedy”.
Sure, you’ll laugh at some moments, but the horror of what’s really going on here will also make you feel very uncomfortable. Despite a matter of several memes, including one particularly exciting scene with a gun that you did not do watch the trailersome will find Beef ruthless nihilism, even with humor sprinkled throughout.
Issues related to class and mental health, and how all of these factors affect the life of an Asian American, hit hard here precisely because they yes realistic compared to the revenge arc they got hooked on. And even anger itself is relatable too, as it arises from the same helplessness we all inevitably feel at one point or another. “We live in a society,” as the meme goes.
This constant, basic tension could do Beef hard to sell if it weren’t for Yen and Wong. Reunited on television again later Tuca & Bertie’s cancellation, their new roles here couldn’t be more different from Bertie and Speckle if they tried.
Stephen Yeun continues his enviable run of roles with Danny, channeling the innate charisma we’ve seen him pull off with ease in films like no, to pain and The walking dead. This time, however, his stardom is deliberately muted and almost suffocated by the circumstances in which his hero finds himself.
Maybe things would have been different if life had just given Danny a right hand. Or maybe it’s really his fault that everything turned out the way it did. This nuance is a credit to both the writers and Yoon, who play with the concepts of fate and responsibility with this downtrodden man who tries but often fails to do the right thing.
“I’m so sick of smiling,” Danny tells his brother while answering their mother’s call, with Yuna’s signature smile. Except the cracks in that facade are all too obvious.
Amy’s smile is equally used as a mask as well as a defense mechanism. How else can she survive the endless pressure of her life when everyone around her keeps telling Amy how much they envy what she has?
Wong’s comedic skills are on perfect display here, oscillating between comedy and tragedy and the shades of gray in between in any given scene. If you laugh along with Amy, get frustrated with her privilege, or just can’t believe what she does, you will be believe it all thanks to Wong’s best performance.
Success Beef ultimately rests with both Wong and Yen, though of course. Neither Danny nor Amy are particularly likable in what they do, but it somehow makes us root for them more, even as we know their obsessive desire for revenge will only lead to pain and destruction for everyone involved.
“I was prepared for the show to have no fun,” Wong said in that aforementioned interview, and you can’t depend on your bandwidth for visceral, uncomfortable storytelling either.
But if you give it a chance Beef is as daring and unpredictable as the genres it navigates, moving from drama and comedy to tragedy and even horror in one beautifully shot, exceptionally well-acted show that could very well end up among your favorite films of the year.
Just don’t take offense at us if you don’t agree.
Beef will be available to stream on Netflix April 6.