Beef is the latest project from A24, one of the most popular and critically acclaimed studios today. They are just coming off of a record-setting Academy Awards, where their films Everything Everywhere All At Once and The Whale made them the first studio to sweep all of the major Oscar categories, including Best Picture. They are not stopping either and have now given us one of the best binge-watch series of 2023 so far on Netflix.
Danny (Steven Yeun) is a struggling contractor trying to scrape together enough cash to support his unmotivated brother and bring his parents back from South Korea. Amy (Ali Wong) is an entrepreneur, wife, and mother terrified of losing everything and lives in a constant fight or flight mode. These strangers get involved in a completely insane road rage incident you have to see to believe; it slowly begins to consume their lives as they go to war with each other, hence the title of the series.
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The only critique I can give this series is that it is too relatable. These are universal feelings and states of being that everyone has at one time or another: road rage, fear, fight, or flight. Lee Sung Jin has created a well-written story that quickly draws you in. It amazes me how he made these characters fresh and new and feel so familiar. The series also features fantastic direction and editing with a darkly comedic tone that works perfectly.
The biggest draw of the series is our two leads. Yeun and Wong are incredible, each giving what I believe are career-best performances. They have terrific chemistry with each other and disappear entirely into their characters. How they manage to create people who are so likable that they devolve into committing acts of vengeance amazes me throughout the series.
Amy and Danny are trying to live their best lives while fighting oppressive systems (from their point of view). Danny is fighting everything and everyone preventing him from having the success he feels he deserves, from banks to his own family. Amy is dealing with fighting the corporate ladder as well as her marriage. Amy struggles to communicate with her husband (Joseph Lee), who unfortunately doesn’t understand her. Amy is working incredibly hard for her success and her daughter’s well-being.
Overall, I would recommend Beef as your next binge on Netflix. It would not surprise me if we continue to hear about this series and A24 come the next awards season. With terrific writing, direction, and performances from Yeun and Wong, it’s the relatable dark comedy you’ve been waiting for. I’d highly suggest you give it a go, as long as you don’t act like Danny and Amy after watching.
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