In one of the best-limited series to dive into the journey of self-discovery, obsession, and road rage, in recent memory, Netflix and A24’s Beef is at the top of the list to be called the best new series of the year. Starring the Oscar-nominated Steven Yeun and Ali Wong, it also offers a biting commentary on both ethnicity and the struggle of class in America. Fantastic writing. Incredibly flawed and vulnerable characters. A soundtrack that kicks and top-notch direction and cinematography. Beef is a show that has much of the country, and the World, asking each other “Did you watch Beef yet“? 
Steven Yeun and Young Mazino in a scene from the Netflix series “Beef.” Photo courtesy of Netflix/A24.


In Beef, we find Danny Cho (Steven Yeun) at a home improvement store, trying to return an excessive number of hibachi grills. Without a receipt, we immediately see the gloom and doom that envelops Danny as he tries to get through this mundane chore. Unsuccessful at everything he tries in life, Danny desperately wants to build a house for his aging parents, who are still in Korea. Amy Lau (Ali Wong) is a successful entrepreneur. Marrying into a wealthy art family, she’s envious of her pampered and untalented husband, and desperately wants to sell her profitable business after years of stress and pressure.
Distracted by his own inner turmoil, Danny attempts to back his pickup truck out of the megastore parking lot. He’s subsequently honked at with extreme angst and aggression by Amy, as her shiny and expensive SUV narrowly misses slamming into him. Adding fuel to the fire, the still unseen Amy rolls down her tinted window and flips Danny the bird before she speeds off to resume her aggression-filled day. Not to be outdone, Danny quickly gives chase in a fit of rage. We’re off and running in this fantastic new series created by Lee Sung Jin.
Throughout all of the chaos, Amy is continuously courting (and catering to) the obscenely wealthy Jordan Forster (Maria Bello). Jordan is considering buying Amy’s business and needs constant attention and wants Amy on call. As a result, the already tenuous relationship Amy has with her husband Joji (Joseph Lee) begins to deteriorate. Amy is also riddled with guilt for not spending quality time with her daughter, June (Remy Holt). Her snooping and judgmental mother-in-law Fumi (Patti Yasutake) makes an already bad situation that much worse.
Ali Wong and Steven Yeun in a scene from “Beef.” Photo courtesy of Netflix/A24.
The battle between Amy and David escalates and we see the dire situation David has immersed himself in. He lives a squalid existence. Sharing an apartment with his younger brother Paul (Young Mazino), Danny feeds off the need to take care of Paul. Danny keeps him down, never allowing Paul to venture out into the world to make it on his own. Add to the mix Danny’s hilarious but very dangerous cousin, Isaac (David Choe). He’s recently been released from prison. Before long, Isaac is starting a new, and illegal, business venture that Danny becomes embroiled in.  
With Danny and Amy becoming more and more entwined in each other’s lives, we begin to see how similar the two polar opposites really are. A mutual hate/respect begins to develop between the pair, even as they destroy the lives of all of those around them, born out of a raging obsession that Danny and Amy have with each other. Beef, in true A24 fashion, tells a bizarre love story about two reprehensible characters that is fueled by pure hatred. There’s also gorging on Burger King to relieve stress, gospel rock, and a psychedelic trip through the woods.


Show creator/director/producer and writer Lee Sung Jin (Tucca and BertieDaveSilicon Valley) had originally planned to have Danny, a Korean immigrant, square up against a wealthy white American male. However, he opted against this, preferring to focus more on both character’s deeply flawed personalities, and less on racial discrimination. It was a wise decision. There is so much going on in this series that injecting racial undertones might have caused the whole thing to collapse under its own weight.
Steven Yeun as Danny, and David Choe as Isaac in a scene from “Beef.” Photo courtesy of Netflix/A24.
At the end of the first episode of Beef, we see Amy chasing after Danny, on foot. A wide smile forms on the face of Danny. Even though he has bought himself a world of trouble, he feels elated and alive for the first time in ages. As the camera cuts back to Amy, we see a small grin form on her face as well. Misery truly loves company. Their near-miss traffic collision and subsequent stalking and oneupmanship of each other are destroying them both. However, it’s also the best thing that’s happened to either one of them.
The anxiety in Beef starts in episode one and never lets up. This is part of what makes the series so engrossing and exhilarating. Just when you think Danny or Amy can’t take it to another level, they do. They could very easily just assault each other (or have someone else do it), but that wouldn’t satisfy the game that’s afoot. Amy and Danny want more. They want to hurt each other by hurting those closest to them. That means Danny’s brother and mother and father and Amy’s meek husband and precious daughter. It’s like a car crash that you just can’t help but look at.
If there is one thing that Beef might have going against it, it’s that it really swings for the fences in some of the series’ more outlandish scenes. The last two episodes in particular have moments that border on slapstick comedy from the 1930s. It may not be for everyone, but in this instance, it works and is fitting. The shifts in tone from violence to comedy on a moment’s notice also can be a bit offsetting. However, its apropos for a series like this in that just about every character that we are introduced to is a bit off their rocker


Steven Yeun is incredible in Beef. However, as one of the best actors working today, we’ve come to expect that from the Oscar nominee. Yeun’s mannerisms, physicality, and especially his comic timing are all first rate and he is locked into this performance. What’s best about what Yeun is doing here (and the writing) is that his reprehensible character never becomes a cliche. He bakes into Danny, moments of decency, kindness, and fatigue that actually makes the viewer feel sorry for him…almost. It’s one of the best performances of his career.
The true revelation of the series, however, is Ali Wong. The writer, actor, and stand-up comedian has been in other things before (Always Be My Maybe, Black Box), but this is easily the best work of her career and will likely be recognized come awards season. The electricity that emanates from Wong is simply incredible. Her ability to juggle back and forth between comedic and dramatic moments, often within the same line reading, reminds one of a young Robin Williams who also so effortlessly did this in films like Good Morning Vietnam (1985) and Dead Poets Society (1989).
Famed muralist, podcaster, and actor David Choe steals every scene he’s in as cousin Isaac. He’s equal parts menacing and hilarious. He also has many of the show’s funniest lines. Maria Bello as the Uber-wealthy, vapid, and disgusting Jordan is pitch-perfect in her performance. She glides through her line delivery, delivering scathing dialogue as though she were ordering an expresso. Young Mazino as Danny’s younger brother turns in a fantastic and heartfelt performance as he realizes that he is being played by both his brother and Amy
Amy (Ali Wong) and George (Joseph Lee) in a scene from “Beef.” Photo courtesy of Netflix/A24.


The best-limited series to hit Netflix in years, Beef is replete with fantastic writing, fascinatingly flawed characters, a banging soundtrack, and episode titles and accompanying artwork (created by David Choe) that is unparalleled. If there is one show that has ANY chance, come Awards season, against the behemoth that is HBO’s Succession, this is the one. It really is THAT good. It’s another in a long line of home runs by A24. Show creator Lee Sung Jin has stated publicly that there is no word on a season two, but that he has plotted out three seasons of the show. We’ll have to wait and see if we get more Beef.
Created by Lee Sung Jin and starring Steven Yeun, Ali Wong, Joseph Lee, Young Mazino, David Choe, Maria Bello, and Patti Yasutake, Beef is currently streaming on Netflix.

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