Watching season 2 of “The Bear” has been an incredibly fulfilling experience. I’ve always been intrigued with shows and movies around cooking, including “Chef,” “Burnt” and other competition shows. There’s something incredibly beautiful in not only the dishes made but the history and passion that goes into a meal. Chefs are so knowledgeable and joyful to present something that is made to be shared with others. “The Bear” is unique in that the individuality of the characters shines through along with the food. It focuses so much on what we give up when we pursue our crafts wholeheartedly and the relationships we make doing jobs that we hate, but also love simultaneously.
I’ve always worked in customer service. Many of us take these jobs to make money and survive, but I like to think we choose them over other minimum wage jobs for a reason. There’s a moment in the show where one of the characters tells another that her favorite part of her day is making an omelet, to which her counterpart understands and says, “you like to take care of people.” I think that’s why I gear toward food and coffee.
I always dreaded interviews at restaurants and cafés because they’d ask why I wanted to work there. I think the correct answer would be to compliment the place in some way and how it’s unique to other places but all I can ever come up with is that I like to talk to people. I like making something that makes the customer feel better than they did before. It’s not a significant difference to their day or life in retrospect, but it’s a moment of relief or satisfaction that I helped create. In the small and forgetful moments with strangers where we can share a laugh, express a mutual exhaustion or give a compliment — a moment shared with another that I never take for granted.
I connect this ambition to the culinary arts in “The Bear” with my love for reading and writing. It’s refreshing to see shows and movies made depicting the love and dedication towards artistic expression. There’s so many movies, rightfully so, about people behind incredible scientific discoveries or genius endeavors that I just could not relate to. I enjoy these films but they make me feel inferior because I can’t do something like that.
With “The Bear,” though, I feel a certain pride for pursuing something artistic. I can’t make a single thing that was made on the show, but I feel connected to the cooks who spoke about their craft in a way that is important and valuable to society. I need this reminder sometimes, that literature too is a crucial art to explore and excel in. It does in fact benefit society in some way. I may not save the world, but I can write something meaningful to someone in the same way the cooks make food to honor their loved ones or express themselves.
What makes the show such a masterpiece is the way it showcases friendship in a unique way. It emphasizes showing love in ways that are untraditional, often without words. Frequently these awkward and stubbornly focused cooks are completely unable to use their words effectively, so acts of service are all they have. They help obtain new opportunities for each other without saying anything, and give gifts and make food for each other to compensate for their inability to form the right words.
I think this makes it all the more heart warming. It teaches me that these kinds of acts can be just as appreciated and even more necessary than the words. I think in my life I rely on words because I fall short of showing up for my friends. I get so caught up in work and school that the time is just taken up completely and all I have are empty promises. I want to be better with this, to make time for the people I love and show with my actions that I care.
The show’s friendships also remind me of the ones I make at each of my jobs, the ones that make it all worthwhile when you’re doing something you sometimes dread. Serving others and attempting to constantly exude joy is an exhausting thing, but it’s less enduring when you make good friends to spend this time with.
Along with being present with your loved ones, the show shows the necessity to listen. My favorite part of the whole show was when the two owners of the restaurant were fixing an uneven table. As they maneuvered around this awkward thing there would be interruptions as they spoke but Carmy, the protagonist, says “say more, please” to signify that he is still listening and wants her to continue expressing her feelings.
I think these small assurances are so important in communicating with others. Especially with loved ones, you want them to know you are present and attentive to their moment of vulnerability. This show has taught me the power of these small but powerful words that we don’t normally think to say but it could be incredibly reassuring and kind to hear. It’s also a reminder that everyone has their own burdens. While you may also have your own, it’s crucial to give the people you care about the space to feel and talk about these things as they would for you.
“The Bear” is an incredibly great show that I think everyone should watch — the food looks so amazing (as does Jeremy Allen White), and you’ll grow to adore these characters and resonate with a couple, just as I have.