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Don’t give up on “The Bear” after the first episode. The first 30 minutes is a chaotic, loud, and destabilizing experience that will make your blood pressure rise. You also won’t understand what is happening. The show throws you into the deep end, challenging you to sink or swim in the same choppy waters the characters find themselves struggling to navigate.  

Like so many human stories, grief is the current that pushes and pulls on the characters and drives the plot of this gritty show. After learning of his brother’s suicide, Carmy (the main character) returns home to run his brother’s sandwich shop—The Original Beef of Chicagoland.  Years of strained relationship with his now-deceased older brother has driven Carmy to become a world-class chef working in the most famous restaurant in the world. But no matter how far he runs or how successful he is, the pain of this relationship and now the grief of suicide is a psychological and emotional weight Carmy carries everywhere.  

Well written, heartfelt, and realistic, much of the show takes place in the steamy back kitchen, as characters who work in the restaurant rise and fall under the pressure of food orders and the complex dynamics of interpersonal relationships. 

“The Bear” is a quick watch. The first season is only 8 episodes with an average runtime of 30 minutes. Fans will be happy that a second season is in the works as the last episode ends with an intriguing renaming of the restaurant, submerged treasure, a lost letter, and a vulnerable testimony about the pain of sibling love.    

Finally at the end, viewers can make sense of the beginning. What begins as chaos fueled by the pain of loss and the grief gradually gives way to sincere apologies, forgiveness, table fellowship, and hope for the future. (Rated TV-MA for coarse language, verbal abuse and mentions of suicide. FX on Hulu)

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