By Santiago Brion | April 24, 2023
“Beef” is a new limited series on Netflix that is co-produced by acclaimed studio, A24. The series is about two people in their 30s who get into a feud after a road rage incident in a supermarket parking lot. This affects their lives in unexpected ways. Danny Cho, played by Steven Yeun is a down-on-his-luck contractor while Amy Lau, played by Ali Wong, is a business woman with a plant company.
Photo Credit: Netflix
From the first episode, the show takes its time to get to know the two main characters within its 30 minute length. Danny seems to have the worst luck ever. His contracting business is failing, he lives in a crummy apartment, and his Korean parents can’t visit him due to his poverty. Meanwhile, Amy seems to have the perfect life. Her plant business is booming, she lives in a fancy house, and her husband is a successful sculptor. The contrast between the characters is that Danny is poor and miserable while Amy is rich and successful.
Since leaving the popular series, “The Walking Dead,” Steven Yeun has become a successful performer. Between his Academy Award nominated lead role in “Minari,” his main voice role in “Invincible,” and his supporting role in Jordan Peele’s “Nope,” he shows his acting prowess once again in “Beef.” Steven brings a rawness to his character that makes him vulnerable and a force to be reckoned with.
Ali Wong becomes more than a comedic actress in “Beef,” playing a successful rich woman with internalized Millennial angst. Ali & Steven make you laugh and cringe. Both Danny & Amy are at a standstill in their adult lives. As Danny & Amy continue their rivalry, it gets worse to the point that their successful lives implode. The only reason why both of these characters are obsessed with destroying each other is because they both want more out of their mundane lives. Danny is sick of living in poverty and takes it out on a rich woman and her family. Amy, despite her successful career, second-guesses her happiness and marriage, and takes it out on Danny.
The talent behind the show makes “Beef” stand out as well. Jake Schreier wrote most of the episodes while Lee Sung Jin directed them. They excelled in blending dark comedy and drama while including themes of existentialism, surrealism and millennial rage. The cinematographer, Larkin Seiple, did previous work on the Academy Award winning movie, “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”
Each episode’s title card is a work of art that illustrates the themes of the entire show. The pilot episode is called “The Birds Don’t Sing, They Screech in Pain”. Behind the episode titles are paintings. The first painting includes butchered meat and a cow’s head in front of the frame and two different classes of people. This adds into the social divide between Danny & Amy, and their inner souls internally screaming for their pitiful existence. It sets up the fable that’s about to unfold.
By the end of the show, you’re left wondering if both characters will ever squash their beef after they get stranded in the California wilderness. Will Danny ever mend his relationship with his brother, Paul? Will Amy ever find happiness?
“Beef” is the kind of show that the Netflix brand needed to keep the streaming service afloat and relevant. While most services are oversaturated with reality shows and true crime dramas, and great shows were randomly canceled after one season, “Beef” has become the saving grace of Netflix. There are few shows like “Beef.”
You can watch all 10 episodes of "Beef" on Netflix.