Have You Watched “The Bear”? (My Thoughts)

A few days ago we finished watching the first season of The Bear on Hulu. It’s unlike any other depiction of a restaurant that I’ve ever seen on screen, and it often left us considerably more stressed after watching a 30-minute episode than before.

But I think it’s brilliant.

I worked as a server for two summers during my college years, a time when I was contemplating the restaurant life. Most shows at that point had romanticized what it’s like to run or work at a restaurant, and I quickly learned that none of them were accurate about what happens behind the scenes.

The Bear, however, gets it right, though to a dramatic extreme at times. Kitchens are loud, curse-filled, and messy, but The Bear takes it to a whole new level. The premise is that a 5-star chef has inherited his brother’s greasy restaurant in Chicago, and you follow his journey–and that of the many other characters in the kitchen–for a few months.

I think the most important thing to keep in mind if you’re curious about The Bear (which has hugely positive ratings from critics) is that it is positioned as a comedy…but it. is. not. a comedy. Like in any drama, there are occasional comedy/absurd moments, but the show isn’t playing for laughs. It’s more of a love letter to food and real restaurant kitchens.

There are uplifting moments–quite a few of them, really–but most episodes are intense, frenetic, and stressful. Several were truly difficult to watch. But I’m glad we kept going, and as long as you know what you’re getting into, I’d highly recommend the show.

I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve watched The Bear!

7 thoughts on “Have You Watched “The Bear”? (My Thoughts)”

  1. Strongly agree that this show captures what its like to be in a kitchen better than almost any other show I’ve watched (the film “boiling point” also does an excellent job). I’ve never cooked but I’ve waited tables and expedited and I miss that energy a lot: the highs and the lows, the crazy amount of stress, being so busy your shift devolves into putting out fire after fire.. and then at the end of the rush everything slows down and the staff are all friends again (well, YA drama permitting).

    I’m actually looking into picking up Kitchen Rush as I’d really enjoy a board game that encapsulates that feeling! Overcooked, a video game, does a great job of it :).

    Reply
    • I forgot to mention this in the post, so I’m curious: From your experience, did chefs have the time and freedom to experiment with food in the kitchen? That was the one part of The Bear that surprised me–I think it was neat that the chefs were able to work on their own dishes using kitchen ingredients, but I don’t recall seeing that at the restaurants I worked at.

      Reply
      • Kitchenrush does not encapsulate my experience in a kitchen, but it is a stressful cooperative game. Id rather play Escape Zombie City though as I am a professional cook. Im in a different industry though, and as “the leader” I am intentional about not letting it be a cursing kitchen. Food experimentation is a thing in our kitchen as was the fine dining kitchen I came from, however that was by the approval of our awesome late head chef Brad Lyons. Im curious, have you read “Setting the Table” by St Louis native Danny Meyer?

        Reply
        • That’s neat to hear about the food experimentation in the fine dining kitchen! I haven’t read that book–would you recommend it?

          Reply
          • Dont just take my word for it, Jason Bockman of Strange Donuts also thinks it mighg be the best Business Book ever written. If you like food at all, its definitely worth the listen as Danny reads it – or just watch some of the videos he has done. Here is a clip of an interview that Jason talks about it: https://youtu.be/RIQVaZXlKjM

            Reply
      • I worked in chain restaurants so absolutely not: with the exception being we had a cook that was working towards buying a food truck and while delicious was nowhere near as fancy as what they experimented with on the show 🙂

        Reply

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