The Reel Review
Two individuals – one successful and one not – let a fateful road rage incident get inside their heads and consume their every thought and action for retaliation, in this A24 dark comedy series on Netflix starring Ali Wong and Steven Yeun (Minari, The Walking Dead).
Beef is simultaneously fascinating and cringeworthy, as a stellar Wong and Yeun capture the extreme lengths two people will go to exact revenge on someone they feel has wronged them, even when it threatens to ruin their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. Strangely, it is their mutual, deeply repressed anger that unites them.
The predominantly Asian cast and abundance of Asian cultural references – in particular the influence of the Christian church in Korean daily life – captures the modern-day struggles of social status and ethnic identity to a backdrop of constantly comparing ourselves to others on social media. Maria Bello chews the scenery as an entitled, time-wasting art dealer lording the promise of a life-changing business venture over Wong’s increasingly resentful Amy.
Beef creator Lee Sung Jin’s writing is clever, realistic and often anxiety-inducing, with his ten episodes achieving a rare feat – holding a mirror up to our increasingly frenetic lives in which we are just one stupid decision away from a life-ruining moment. They are also very unpredictable, shaking up viewer expectations with well-placed and often biting humor, making you think twice before honking at that driver that just cut you off in traffic.
• Steven Yeun (Minari) is the first Asian-American nominated for a Best Actor Oscar.
• Beef creator Lee Sung Jin says he’s plotted out three seasons of Beef in his head, should Netflix decide to renew.
• Ali Wong was a guest judge on the iconic episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race which featured the now-legendary lip synch battle between Anetra and Marcia Marcia Marcia.
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