- Film & TV
- 06 Apr 23
The Netflix/A24 dark comedy, starring Ali Wong and Steven Yeun, explores different dimensions of anger that culminate in an all-at-war feud between two strangers. The series landed on Netflix today.
Fasten your seatbelt and get ready for a wild ride! Netflix and A24’s thrilling new dramedy BEEF has it all: heart-felt scenes, authentic dialogue, laughter in unexpected places, and, of course, road rage. Using humour, showrunner Lee Sung Jin (Undone, Dave) explores the complex layers of anger and shows how the emotion can be both a powerfully cathartic and destructive force, as it utterly absorbs the lives of two strangers.
When unfulfilled entrepreneur and plant artist Amy Lau (Ali Wong) gets into a road rage altercation with down-on-his-luck handyman Danny Cho (Steven Yeun), the pair embark on an escalating feud that allows them to unleash their mutual anger at each other. However, their real rage stems from years of surviving in their own existential crises – and a mere incident of road rage is enough to send them both over the edge.
The 10-episode series tackles existential issues and anxieties such as identity, parental disappointment, power and class, as well as regaining control over one’s own happiness. BEEF, as the title suggests, also serves viewers with entertaining methods of inflicting revenge, such as urinating all over your arch-nemesis’ floor.
1. The Cast
BEEF stars two dynamic and powerful talents: Ali Wong and Steven Yeun. Wong, a comedian known for her Netflix stand-up specials Don Wong, Hard Knock Wife and Baby Cobra, shows fans a more serious, chilling side of her acting palette with her portrayal of Amy, an unfulfilled entrepreneur desperate for a break. On the flipside, Steven Yeun, known for his roles in Minari and The Walking Dead, showcases his previously unexplored talent of comedy. With his snarky one-liners and perfect comedic timing, Yeun brings light and laughter into an otherwise dark series. One particularly memorable scene shows Danny on the verge of vomiting after scarfing down a handful of Burger King chicken sandwiches, only to reach for a few more fries moments later.
2. Showrunner Lee Sung Jin
Lee Sung Jin, the Emmy-nominated writer and director, holds nothing back in BEEF. Jin has served as a co-executive producer and writer on shows including Dave, Tuca & Bertie and Girlboss, and contributed writing for major comedy series like Silicon Valley and 2 Broke Girls. BEEF is the newest addition to the Korean writer’s comedy catalogue, displaying his signature blend of enthralling dialogue and quirky plotlines needed to create a truly memorable show. As he continues making a name for himself, Jin was recently announced as a writer for Marvel’s upcoming Thunderbolts, which will be his writing debut on a produced feature film.
3. Cathartic Road Rage
If you’ve ever experienced a fit of road rage, you may very easily relate to the revengeful theme that serves as the beating pulse of BEEF. The series revolves around a seemingly insignificant incident of road rage between Amy and Danny which spirals into an escalating feud that takes over their lives. Jin said BEEF is loosely based on a road rage incident he was a part of, which, similarly to the show, involved a white SUV. This experience inspired him to explore the ideas of two people being trapped in their subjective realities while projecting assumptions onto each other, which is persistent throughout every gripping episode.
“I don’t advise doing road rages but it does lead to shows,” Jin admitted with a laugh during a recent press conference.
4. An Existential Crisis
You never know what other people could be going through, and sometimes a simple honk in the carpark of a super-store can be enough to set someone over the edge. Although the daily struggles Danny and Amy experience are quite different, the two characters share an achingly similar anger towards the world and a desperate desire to simply exhale. Danny’s issues are more dire as he struggles to stay financially afloat while supporting his family, including his crypto-bro younger brother (Young Mazino) and ex-convict cousin (David Choe). Amy, on the other hand, faces constant microaggressions from the rich white potential buyer of her business (Maria Bello) and often resorts to hiding her true feelings in public behind a painful smile. Lee Sung Jin, along with director Jake Schreier, captivatingly intersperse these two realities while underpinning the striking similarities between these two cynical LA hopefuls.
5. The Power Of Anger
Although anger can be a powerfully negative emotion, BEEF shows that it can be a profoundly liberating one as well. While the problems of life weigh heavily on Danny and Amy, their escalating and unhinged feud serves as a surprising outlet for the pair to escape into by inflicting truly psychotic behaviour onto one another. After Danny urinates on Amy’s floor, she chases him down the street in fury while he smiles with glee knowing he enacted revenge on his driving nemesis – a small win that temporarily seems to outshine all his losses in life. Likewise, Amy becomes fixated on planning her next moves against Danny, reinvigorating the typically reserved character with a taste of adventure and purpose. Throughout the series, Amy and Danny appear to fight out of the hope that their rage will fix their existential problems, or at the very least, allow them to come out on top.
BEEF is available on Netflix now.
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