By Ricky Valero
Where to stream it? Netflix (premieres Thursday, April 6th)
Starring: Steven Yeun, Ali Wong, Joseph Lee, Young Mazino, David Choe, Patti Yasutake
Written by: Lee Sung Jin
Directed by: Jake Schreier (102, 103, 106, 107, 108, 109), HIKARI (101, 104, 105), Lee Sung Jin (110)
Intro: Beef Season One Review
Beef had its world premiere at this year's SXSW. All episodes of the first season were screened in advance for this review.
Danny (played by Steven Yeun) is having a rough day, he tried to return something at the store and didn't have a receipt. Shortly after, he got in his car to leave and almost hit another vehicle. They honked and flipped him off. This led to him aggressively chasing the person, Amy (Ali Wong), down in an angry act of rage. However, he met his match as this person is equally as crazy behind the wheel.
From here, Beef is one of the wildest rides I've seen in a TV series in some time. I thought things were going one way but then the writing throws us through a loop. Just when you think Danny gets the upper hand, Amy does something, and vice versa. It's like a massive chess match that refuses to finish.
A strong ensemble cast
On the surface, Danny and Amy are two polar opposites but when we peel back the layers of their characters, you start to see how similar they really are. The writers give both of these characters the proper depth to provide an emotional connection to what they are going through.
We've seen an Academy Award-nominated performance from Steven Yeun in the past, and he showcases his superb talents yet again. But it's Ali Wong, who typically I've seen in a much more comedic role breakout with this layered performance that highlights her best work to date. Several times I couldn't believe it was her as this was something out of the ordinary for her work.
While Wong was my MVP, I have to shout out David Choe as Isaac who brought much-needed comedic relief in the show. He was a badass don't get me wrong, but Isaac had this hilarious comedic timing that came out at the right time. I can imagine there are several one-liners that will be talked about and said for years to come.
What didn't work?
I battled back and forth about this but I feel like this would've made for a better movie instead of a ten-episode series. Clearly, if they wanted to make it a series, you could've trimmed this down to six 45 minutes episodes or even promoted it as a limited series. While the story works and moves along, it just felt like we had several filler episodes.
Final Thoughts: Beef Season One Review
Overall, outside of my little qualms with the episode number, Beef is easily a series you won't want to miss. With exceptional writing that is full of twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat mixed with a brilliant ensemble cast, it's one big adrenaline rush that will keep you clicking to the next episode. Beef is one of the best series of the first quarter of 2023.