Netflix’s Beef is like an absolute train wreck in the best possible way: things are bad, everyone’s doing terrible, awful things, and it’s cringe-inducing watching all of these people make a mess of themselves and those around them. But it’s also hard to look away from the tragedy of it all. Starring Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead) and Ali Wong (Always Be My Maybe), the series follows the story of Danny and Amy, two very different people whose lives collide and derail after a road rage incident occurs between them. What starts as a simple mistake between two people ends up a web of lies, deceit and financial ruin. Underneath all the absurdity is a story of individuals just looking for an out and trying to find someone who understands.
Created by Lee Sung Jin, Beef is a dramedy with minimal jokes. Sure, the production aims to emphasise irony – for example with emotional music over chase scenes played in slow motion to accentuate the actors’ comic facial expressions – but, for the most part, Sung Jin lets the characters and their actions speak for themselves, allowing the chaos of it all to permeate throughout. The standout quote of the series is “There’s always something”. This rings true for the two leads, and for the supporting cast as well: they all have something of their own to struggle with. It’s the way everyone’s lives are slowly consumed by this particular event, and how that brings each individual to contend with their issues and shortcomings – that’s the most fascinating aspect of the show.
Production for Beef is curated to express the absurdity of each character, from Amy’s neutral-toned, shapeless outfits to the look and design of her house that creates a cage-like atmosphere. It’s almost as if she and Danny are trapped in a vicious cycle of getting back at each other, and further within are the holes that they dig for themselves. The fast pacing helps create this chaotic energy, capitalising on the metaphorical gears of a car, signifying the speed, the faltering brakes, to the running out of gas. Everyone hits their breaking point, and the show cleverly instills all these little details to not only keep in tune with the aesthetics of the premise, but to highlight the internal struggles of all involved.
Beef is released on Netflix on 7th April 2023.
Watch the trailer for Beef here: