The 50 best TV shows of 2022: No 1 – The Bear
This clever, dense and hugely stressful chef drama was a perfectly prepped televisual feast. Packed full of genius, it was that rarest of things: a TV show that lived up to the hype
‘Ido not care what you do up in Napa with your fucking tweezers and your foie gras! You’ve got no fucking idea what we do here.” Ah, The Bear. The eight-episode tale of award-winning chef Carmy (Jeremy Allen White in a surely career-making performance), who returns to take care of the family sandwich shop in Chicago after his older brother Michael (Jon Bernthal) kills himself, reached our shores on Disney+ three months after it dropped in the US on Hulu and came garlanded with the kind of praise that makes you automatically suspicious.
But occasionally, just occasionally, things live up to the hype. And The Bear is one of them. It’s as frenetic, kinetic, immersive an experience as the lifestyle it depicts. It feels as though the whole thing is shot in closeup, so great is the sense of claustrophobia conjured as we watch the cooks edge their way round the tight little kitchen, pans chittering on the stoves, heat and tempers rising, equipment breaking, meat sizzling, blades slipping, chaos reigning … I found myself watching with my elbows tucked in to try to give them more room. And when ambitious new hire Sydney (Ayo Edebiri – a graduate of the Culinary Insitute of America, and the only person eager to work with Carmy because of his reputation in the world of tweezers and foie gras) spills a pot of precious stock, I could feel the loss in my gut.