The Bear has become one of the hottest binge-watches of the summer since it debuted on Hulu in June. All eight episodes dropped at once, and the show was an immediate hit with both audiences and critics.
FX Entertainment president Eric Schrier has admitted that the series — which takes place in a fast-paced restaurant kitchen — has “exceeded expectations.” And they’ve already given the greenlight for a second season. However, some industry professionals say the show is extremely difficult to watch because it’s just so accurate.
Hulu and FX ‘can’t wait’ for season 2 of ‘The Bear’
The Bear has been a hot topic on social media for real-life chefs and former service industry workers in the week since its premiere. The series follows Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White), an award-winning fine-dining chef who takes over his brother’s failing Chicago-based sandwich shop with the goal of turning it into a success.
The show flashes back to his past life and his experiences in the toxic fancy restaurant kitchen he worked in. But it also highlights his struggles and the professional demons he has while working in the kitchen of his family’s restaurant.
“The Bear has exceeded our wildest creative, critical and commercial expectations. We deeply appreciate the brilliant work led by Creator and Co-Showrunner Christopher Storer and Co-Showrunner Joanna Calo,” Schrier said, per Cinema Blend.
“Jeremy Allen White’s lead performance is spectacular, as are those of his co-stars Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Ayo Edebiri, Abby Elliott, Lionel Boyce, and Liza Colón-Zayas. We can’t wait to get to work on Season 2.”
It’s too accurate for some professionals
The Bear and its depiction of two different types of professional kitchens is making waves among industry professionals. The first episode hooks viewers immediately with the fast pace and chaos of the job.
But for many who have that actual job in real life, seeing it depicted in a TV show isn’t necessarily their number one choice for entertainment. Bon Appetit ran a piece about chef reactions to the series, and many revealed that it was difficult to watch because it’s so accurate.
“I know I didn’t get far enough in the series to see where it wrapped up, but I was like, I can’t have this in my brain,” former pastry chef Riley Redfern said.
Alix Baker, private chef and Chopped winner, said, “Like Carmy, I had nightmares about expediting food to the wrong table, burning my mise en place, and our produce order not showing up on time.”
Some former food service workers are having a love/hate relationship with ‘The Bear’
Critic and entertainment writer Walter Chaw took to Twitter to share that watching The Bear nearly gave him a panic attack. But also made him miss his time working in a kitchen.
“The Bear is simultaneously giving me a post-traumatic panic attack and making me miss being in the kitchen so I guess I can say it nails the addictive quality of having your ass handed to you constantly by a thankless job AND ALSO the glory of working in a team that gets it. I’m not kidding about the panic attack. After the first episode, I got up and walked around the block.”
Screenwriter/author Joshua Hall praised The Bear, calling it “wonderful” for its ability to “bring the chaos and energy of working in a kitchen/restaurant to life.” However, he admitted that episode 7 nearly gave him PTSD from his days of running a kitchen.
One viewer shared that binge-watching The Bear — and seeing how accurate it was — brought back a number of memories.
“We binged The Bear (Hulu) last weekend. The accuracy of the series brought up so many memories. I mean, if you haven’t used a quart container as a drinking cup, or cried in the walk-in, can you *really* say you’ve worked in a kitchen?” the fan wrote.
It’s so accurate it’s ‘triggering’
One chef who has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants says that the trauma depicted in the high-end restaurant kitchen in The Bear was triggering.
“I used to work in Michelin-starred restaurants, and at the last restaurant I worked at, a sous-chef asked if I was stupid and if there was something wrong with me for not understanding what they were asking me to do. I responded the only way I knew: “Yes, chef,” chef Genevieve Yam wrote.
“I could barely get through The Bear. Not because I thought it was bad television—but because it was the most accurate portrayal of life in a restaurant kitchen I’ve seen in a while. It was so accurate that it was triggering.”
From the details of spilling an entire Cambro of veal stock to someone turning up the stove when you weren’t looking, never has a cutthroat kitchen been so accurately portrayed.
Former cook Wesley Chen noted that The Bear shows the painful reality of working in a kitchen, and the emotional and physical toll it can take. He says that leaving the industry was the best decision he could make. Even though he “could have done great” if he’d kept going, he says it would have driven him insane.
What did ‘The Bear’ get so right?
What does the show get so right? A lot. The unexpected health inspections and the overwhelmed, stressed-out chefs are accurate. The hazing that takes place is not uncommon, one source told PureWow, but it’s more about competition.
“The thing with cooking is that it’s like a sport—you can’t really hide a lack of skills, everyone knows them and everyone’s competing for higher spots in the kitchen. So you have to prove yourself,” the insider shared.
Another detail The Bear gets right is the fast pace, high energy, and the screaming and berating in fine dining kitchens when something isn’t perfect.
“Any time something’s not going right, I’ve had chefs do that to me because they’re upset. They’re screaming at you, they could throw things at you. In my case, they’ve kicked things my way,” the source added.
“If you notice the chef the whole show, he looks incredibly drained and tired and like his soul has been ripped from his body…You just always feel completely beaten and utterly hopeless, but for some reason—mainly, the fact that it’s your passion—you keep going back.”