Welcome back to my monthly series where I discuss what’s good! This month, I don’t have any music or manga recommendations but I do have two television recommendations. Also, how is this format working? Do you like it or should I just go back to creating one off articles like before? I feel like I need to have a little more structure to my website and posting schedule. Wouldn’t want another debacle like Blogtober again . . . unless. Two programs, very different from one another, yet both incredibly well produced, leaving you with a sense of what’s next. We are talking about HBO’s The Rehearsal and FX’s The Bear.
I have never loved a comedy so much in my life where I did not laugh. This series created by the brilliant Nathan Fielder, known for his Comedy Central series Nathan For You is an HBO original production. It’s hard to describe what the show is about but I will try my best. Fielder hosts the program and finds strangers with issues in life. In order to help these strangers with their issues, he creates a rehearsal of the issues with designed sets, paid actors, and a production crew – in order to create a simulation of that stranger confronting the issue itself. It sounds odd because it is incredibly odd. I have never watched a show that has made me go wow as much as this one. The lengths that Fielder would go to in order to make this show succeed is insane. Imagine the phrase commit to the bit, now imagine it to the nth degree. The reason that I never laughed was because I was in a constant state of shock as to how far he would go in order to push the narrative of the show.
Now let me breakdown why I think that show is so amazing. I don’t know about you, but I love comedy. I’ve loved comedy ever since I was in the fifth grade and I can tell you that this is a comedy lovers favourite show. Conan O’Brien, my favourite comedian is my favourite comedian because he tries his best to sell every joke he makes, even if it’s not funny. It doesn’t matter if no one laughs at the joke, because at the end of the day, he’s making the joke because he thinks that the joke is funny. And if you are willing to commit to your own bit and flesh it out, even if it doesn’t get the biggest laugh – it will still have a satisfactory result for yourself. The Rehearsal, is just one giant joke that Fielder is putting out there. He does not care for the result of the show, he just wants the show (aka his joke) to work so he rides it out, even if it gets out of hand – which it does within the first 10 minutes of the first episode. If you love comedy, The Rehearsal is must watch television.
I am a big fan of FX. They have provided us with Legion, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Atlanta, and so much more. So when they were heavily pushing a show featuring the talented Jeremy Allen White (Lip from Shameless), I knew that I had to give it a shot. White stars as Carmen Berzatto, a fine dining chef who returns home to take over his brother’s sandwich shop – The Beef. Also his brother committed suicide. Along with the shop he must deal with the death of his brother, his brother’s underprepared staff, as well as all the troubles that come with running a small business. Everything about this show is just so tight. From the editing, to the music, to the fast writing. It’s just an incredibly polished program that makes for a compelling narrative. It’s got grit, it’s got personality, and it’s got a great rhythm. Ebon Moss-Bachrach who plays cousin Richie is so fucking good and Ayo Edebiri as Sydney is going to be the next star rising. The show has a lot of great names associated with the production as well like Christopher Storer (Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King, Eighth Grade) and Hiro Murai (Atlanta producer and long time collaborator with Donald Glover).
But personally, I used to work in a kitchen. I’ve worked in more loosie goosey kitchens and I’ve worked in more structured kitchens, and I feel like this show does a great job at showing what it’s like working in a kitchen. We’re talking about family meals, the use of time in the kitchen, and the correct use of tools. There are so many fiction shows out there about restaurants and kitchen staff but a lot of them don’t get it right. The Bear gets a lot of it right. However, the most it gets right is episode seven Review. It is the episode that shows the tipping point of the series, as mistakes from the beginning of the series finally catch up to the The Beef. This episode is so fast, so anxiety inducing, it’s got such a great subtle rise, and it’s shot all in one take. This episode slowly blows up like crazy. Let me tell you, that it was one of the best episodes of television that I had ever seen. Also, if you have never worked at a restaurant during a big rush, you will never understand. Like holy fuck, you will never understand the PTSD you get that night when you’re sleeping and you’re sleep talking like you’re taking orders at the restaurant, because that used to be me. I used to wake myself up because I was serving orders in my dreams. I would wake up with a sweat but also a sense of relief as I’m actually in bed. But as they say in the show you have to keep it pushing.