The Bear is a prime dramedy about a Chicago Italian beef joint - The A.V. Club
Jun 22, 2022 2 mins, 8 secs
Is there anything more Chicago than footage of perfectly seasoned meat being cooked for an Italian beef, the city’s brag-worthiest sandwich, set to “Via Chicago” by Wilco, the city’s brag-worthiest band?

The city hovers over The Bear throughout, whether it’s in someone griping that the neighborhoods “Pilsen, Wicker [Park], and Logan [Square]” have become “shit,” or in how two characters in particular spit out syllables with just the right attitude and non-cartoony Chicago accents.

If that all sounds a bit much, like too big of a leap for what’s ostensibly a very funny (albeit also very dark) show about the goings on in a mom-and-pop restaurant, it’s weirdly not.

(And if you have any connection to that city, you may scoff at the description above—that Sufjan song? Could they be more on-the-nose?—but honestly, the effect is moving.) The Bear has that rare ability to turn tones on a dime without feeling like it’s stretching or manipulating you or unearned, where a comical bit about accidentally spiking the Ecto Cooler at a kids’ party one minute is followed by an Emotionally Guarded Extremely Chicago Guy telling a teary-eyed story about a deceased family member the next.

Now, after a shakeup in his family, he’s back in Chicago to run their restaurant, a River North staple called the Original Beef of Chicagoland.

(A very minor gripe here: No place in Chicago proper would have “Chicagoland” in the name of their restaurant, as that denotes the suburbs. But we’ll assume they had to for litigious reasons. Anyway.) What’s more, he’s there to up their game and “elevate,” as a Food & Wine critic might write, a timeless, classless meal.

There are too many good deliveries from Moss-Bachrach—who plays one of those characters that gets the Chicago accent without straying into caricature, the kind of guy who throws out “sweetheart” unironically—but here’s one:.

And like Carmy, her mentor (in this case…Carmy) can be a dick, dismissing great ideas and tuning out when there are real issues to address

That penultimate episode, the same one with the moving montage intro set to Sufjan, ends with one of the most impressive directing feats I’ve seen on television this year: a 10-minute single-shot climax that snakes through the constricted kitchen as everything falls apart and characters come to blows, this one also soundtracked by Wilco (a wild live jam of “Spiders [Kidsmoke]”), which is perhaps fitting: This show, like that band, like that humble sandwich, can contain multitudes


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