BEEF, the great series produced by A24 where rage is the detonator…
Although it’s April, we can already say that “Beef” (which in Spain was translated as “Bronca”) is one of the best series of the first half of the year and our favourite.
This series, born from an alliance between Netflix and the award winning A24 studio, has a frantic set up and shows really great film making. It was created by Lee Sung Jin and stars Steven Yeun and Ali Wong. To date, this fascinating dark comedy which encloses a great amount of life lessons, has 10 episodes (if only there were more), and each one of them has different opening credits with titles that seem to be out of a classic fortune cookie, and that are also accompanied by evocative artistic images created by David Choe (who in turn plays Isaac, the Cho brothers’ cousin!) and music by Bobby Krlic (also known as The Haxan Cloak): “The birds don’t sing, they screech with pain”; “The rapture of being alive”; “I Am Inhabited by A Cry “; “Just Not All at the Same Time”; “Such Inward Secret Creatures”; “We Draw a Magic Circle”; “I Am a Cage“; “The Drama of Original Choice”; “The Great Fabricator” and “Figures of Light”. “Beef” has a critic rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Anger is like fire: you can only put it out at the first spark; after that it’s too late.” Giovanni Papini
The starting point of “Beef” is the row that starts following a simple traffic incident between two strangers, a failed contractor and a disillusioned and anxious businesswoman. However, this incident triggers a rage in each of them which brings out their darkest side and most fervent resentment caused ultimately by their own frustration. Something that we will discover as the series progresses.
“Beef is the perfect reflection of the consequences of not knowing how to control the rage that results from the stress of our daily lives, among other things.”
The plot of this story is based on the lives of the two main characters: Amy Lau, a businesswoman that has worked hard to create her own business and who is obsessed with being able to sell her company in order to be richer and to have more time to devote to her family, and Danny Cho, a contractor who doesn’t manage to achieve anything that he sets out to do and whose efforts are constantly torpedoed by unfavourable circumstances that stop him from getting ahead. These two characters, who initially seem antagonistic, get caught up in a labyrinth of limitless hate, fury and revenge. It’s clear that they both come from very different worlds, but the underlying rage they each have for different reasons converge in a common objective: both want to achieve success no matter what…
“The level of bewilderment and their thirst for revenge is such that, in addition to not being able to control their darkest emotions, both their lives are totally eclipsed by the desire to ruin the life of the other.”
One of the themes to reflect on, and that this series highlights, is what we would be willing to sacrifice to achieve our dreams. Specially taking into account that there is absolutely no guarantee that, even after an effort involving many sacrifices, we will receive everything we wished for. At least, in the way we had imagined. Food for thought.
In fact, something similar happens in “Beef” and often in life. We set really high goals, we go for them no matter what, giving up time with our loved ones or neglecting our own self-care and wellbeing, and all because we believe that these achievements will bring us the happiness we so yearn. But what happens in some cases is that once we reach the difficult summit … we feel the same or worse, as material possessions cannot fill the inner void.
As you will see, this subject is part of the backbone of the series, in which its incredible characters, Amy Lau (Ali Wong) and Danny Cho (Steven Yeun), show us firsthand that financial success is not the same as happiness or satisfaction.
Unmanaged traumas always come knocking…
Another good thing about Beef is how it breaks down the personal stories of the two main characters, from current times back to their childhoods, in which it becomes apparent that neither were very happy… This throwback is essential in drawing us even closer to them as human beings and in allowing us to empathise with both of them, leaving judgment aside and feeling compassion for them. Because childhood traumas leave scars in our lives, and that’s why they need to be repaired in order to go on to become healthy adults, psychologically speaking.
In this case, Amy and Danny live a life where appearances are at the centre of the equation. Both are frustrated with their lives, their egos are wounded, they live their lives wishing for a better one, they bury their frustrations to make out that they are happy and that everything is ok and they idealise the lives of others and their own “potentially perfect life”, in which all their problems will be solved. They are truly incapable of being themselves and living their lives as they really are, as both of them are terrified. They fear losing, being alone, failure, being discarded, unloved or having their weaknesses discovered… A set of sorrows that began in their childhood, when they were laid into, repudiated, ignored… and they were incapable of defending themselves and facing these situations. This scenario is the result of this rage, which in both cases originally appeared so they could protect themselves, but in a totally uncontrolled and unhealthy way.
“Amy and Danny live a seemingly endless day of fury. They come from two different worlds but are in fact two sides of the same coin.”
Live your life to the fullest
Without wanting to reveal much more… we really recommend that you watch it. It’s absolutely marvelous. Specially the last episode, which is epic, and that reminds us that you only live once and that the best decision we can make is to live our lives being true to ourselves, without replicating toxic patterns that are limiting and make us suffer (Hello therapy!), without paying heed to what other people will say or their expectations and without an excessively tough exterior that protects us too much and subsequently stops us from living or feeling…
“It is brilliantly written; the direction is genius, and it has an excellent cast of actors whose performances are memorable.”
Available on Netflix.