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FX on Hulu Review: ‘The Bear’ is Off to a Solid and Stable Start in Season 3

Throughout the pandemic and dual strikes in Hollywood, FX’s The Bear has managed to release three full seasons three Junes in a row. After gathering initial praise for its first season, the show has ridden a wave of delayed awards show popularity to remain perpetually in favor. Its third season has now arrived in all its glory for anyone who wants to binge it and eagerly salivate for a fourth helping that was commissioned back in March. Our take? Give it a bit more time to truly savor each individual episode.

The third season premiere effectively serves as a hallucinatory recap of what’s happened so far, cutting between moments that have mostly been seen previously and constructing them in a disorienting manner. Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) is seen sweating while working alongside Luca (Will Poulter) for the tough-but-fair Chef Terry (Olivia Colman), and in what feels like the same scene is eviscerated by the unforgiving and inarguably abusive Chef Fields (Joel McHale). His brother Mikey (Jon Bernthal) is alive and then gone, as Sugar (Abby Elliott) worries about Carmy’s mental state, while Carmy contemplates burnt bridges with the two people closest to him – his girlfriend Claire (Molly Gordon) and his “cousin” Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach).

While that first installment will serve as a helpful, if potentially difficult to navigate, refresher for audiences, subsequent episodes get things back on track and push them forward. While previous episodes have hinted at the intensity of nonstop service and kitchen chaos, this season goes all in on that, smartly presenting events from the perspective of Sydney (Ayo Edebiri), who is forced to be an intermediary between the feuding Carmy and Richie. Both have ambitious aims that don’t align, and Sydney is capable of managing her emotions in a much less disruptive manner that sees the success of the restaurant as paramount.

Those who have long argued that The Bear, along with other series like Barry and Atlanta, shouldn’t be considered a comedy series will likely find that to be just as true in season three, which is full of just as many moments of dramatic confrontation and miserable developments as the first two seasons. But there are also welcome comic relief moments, particularly in the bickering between Carmy and Richie that serves as an anchor for this season’s story. Another subtle but very humorous scene finds Neil (Matty Matheson) stepping in to deliver a broth to be poured in front of customers to the table and bringing it right back into the kitchen rather than leaving it there, prompting a shocked response from both feuding cousins.

Surely there are many fans of the series who have finished the entire third season in just over the time that it’s taken to read these few paragraphs, this reviewer opted to go a different direction and leave most of the season left to enjoy in bite-sized pieces over the next few weeks. Given that each roughly half-hour episode often feels like a true ordeal (in the best possible way), it’s an approach that enables certain supporting players, like Elliott and Oliver Platt, to shine in memorable scenes that will surely fade in prominence when looked at in the context of ten installments. Whether the remaining – and already available – episodes of season three will live up to the expectations set by what’s come before is still a question, but this show knows its characters and its world and is certainly capable of taking them on more grand, highly watchable misadventures.

Season Rating (so far): 8/10

Awards Buzz: The Bear might have the most Emmy buzz of any show out there, and after its expected season two nomination haul, that excitement is sure to translate to many wins. Whether that energy will continue once this season is finally Emmy-eligible remains a mystery, but the odds are pretty good that this one will remain in favor for quite a while, especially with season four likely to drop around this time next year.

Author

  • Abe Friedtanzer

    Abe Friedtanzer is a film and TV enthusiast who spent most of the past fifteen years in New York City. He has been the editor of MoviesWithAbe.com and TVwithAbe.com since 2007, and has been predicting the Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes, and SAG Awards since he was allowed to stay up late enough to watch them.

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