In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage month, what better way to celebrate the month as Head Reviews Editor than to write an article on a show that features two Asians who want to kill each other? In all seriousness though, the new Netflix show “Beef” has been a huge hit. The show currently holds an 8.2 score on IMDB and a 98% score on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics giving it a high score due to its intriguing plot and its use of comedy combined with action and dramatic cinematography.
“Beef” is a gripping tragedy that begins in a home improvement store called Forster’s. Danny Cho, played by Steven Yeun, is struggling financially but longs to bring his hard-working parents from Korea to the U.S. and provide them with a comfortable retirement. Desperate for money, Danny attempts to return multiple hibachi grills without a receipt, a task known to be nearly impossible and soul-crushing. Simultaneously, Amy Lau (played by Ali Wong), the founder of a high-end plant store called Kōyōhaus, is negotiating a lucrative acquisition deal with Jordan Forster (played by Maria Bello), the head of Forster’s. Selling her business to Jordan would secure a life of luxury for Amy and her family, granting her the relaxation she has been deprived of due to her relentless dedication.
In the Forster’s parking lot, Danny and Amy’s lives collide during a heated road rage incident. This encounter sparks a persistent and escalating cycle of revenge between the two protagonists. They memorize each other’s license plates and engage in a war of terror. Danny urinates on Amy’s renovated commode, while Amy retaliates by spray-painting insults on Danny’s beat-up truck. What makes “Beef” so captivating and anxiety-inducing is its exploration of the extent to which people can harm one another. Amy and Danny go beyond physical violence, seeking to hurt each other on a deeper level by targeting their loved ones. As the feud intensifies, there is an underlying fear that innocent family members may become collateral damage in this escalating battle.
Driven by their desire to protect their loved ones, Amy and Danny inadvertently distance themselves from them, isolating themselves in secrecy. As a result, Amy’s daughter and husband along with Danny’s parents are exposed to potential harm.
The show delves into the moral complexities of hurting others and the devastating consequences that ripple through the lives of those involved. “Beef” consists of 10 intense and propulsive episodes, where fleeting moments of relief provide respite amidst the tension. The series highlights the ways in which Amy and Danny become intertwined in each other’s lives, causing further emotional turmoil for both parties. I especially want to applaud Ali Wong’s portrayal of Amy Lou. If the main characters were just simply sociopaths, viewers would not connect with them. However, thanks to the brilliant performance by the two lead actors, Amy Lou and Steven Yeun, the main characters were shown to have humanity, as they both have believable and relatable ambitions.
While films like “Everything Everywhere All at Once” focus on the generational trauma that American-born Asians have to face, “Beef” focuses more on the class struggle that Asian Americans face in society. The creators of “Beef” recognize and embrace the fact that the Asian-American experience is multifaceted, acknowledging that it is shaped by various factors such as wealth, ethnicity, immigration, and assimilation. This unconventional view of society is another intriguing point that drew me to this TV show.
In conclusion, “Beef” is not just a funny revenge comedy. It represents the struggles that Asian Americans face, showing that not everything is black and white as it sends the message to always care about the people around you. For these reasons, I strongly recommend this show.