It’s funny… how The Bear is not a comedy

The Bear

Real talk. I love The Bear. I am so sucked into its in its chaotic, dysfunctional world (like millions of others) that I binge all episodes of the award-winning FX series the moment it premieres. I love Richie. Sydney. Uncle Jimmy. Tina. Marcus. Neil. Claire Bear. And even narcissistic Carmy. I love the (and here’s the keyword, folks) drama that The Bear has built over the last three seasons.

But here’s the funny thing. I laugh less than I did in Season Two. And I definitely laugh less than in Season One. Why?

Because The Bear is not a comedy, and I’m okay with that.

It’s an anxiety-inducing drama with funny moments.

When the series first appeared on the scene, it seemed poised to fill a unique niche in the television landscape. The trailer promised a blend of high-stakes kitchen drama and irreverent humor, a combination that felt fresh and exciting.

From the outset, The Bear lures you in with its chaotic energy. The razor-sharp dialogue, the chaotic pace of the kitchen, and the colorful cast of characters all contribute to a sense of vibrant unpredictability. In theory, these elements could serve a comedic narrative, but as the series progresses, it becomes clear that humor is not its primary aim. Instead, The Bear explores human connection, personal growth, and the relentless pursuit of excellence in a high-pressure environment.

In other words, what it’s like to be an artist.

Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto, is a culinary genius burdened with the legacy of his family’s struggling Chicago sandwich shop. His journey is marked by intense emotional struggles, the weight of family expectations, and the haunting specter of Michael’s suicide. These are not the makings of a traditional comedy. Rather, they form the backbone of a deeply human story that resonates on a much more profound level.

The supporting players adds layers to this complex tapestry. Sydney, the ambitious young chef with a chip on her shoulder, and Richie, the volatile cousin trying to find his place, are not mere foils for comedic relief. They are fully realized characters with their own arcs, their own pain, and their own moments of triumph. Their interactions with Carmy and each other are often raw and intense, punctuated by moments of levity that feel earned rather than obligatory.

A stand-out scene from Season Three is Episode Six where Tina is trying to find a job… any job… with no success. Because her train is late she steps into The Bear and during a busy lunch rush, Richie takes the time to give her a free coffee and Italian Beef.

Later in the back room, while Michael and Richie play fight with Neil, Tina is crying over her sandwich. Richie notices and instructs Micheal to investigate. What happens next is an authentic and moving conversation between the two. Michael eventually ends up hiring her.

This is just one example of the show’s ability to balance moments of levity with its heavier themes. Some scenes are laugh-out-loud funny, but they often serve to highlight the absurdity and tragedy of the characters’ lives rather than to provide a straightforward comedic experience. This delicate balance is a testament to the show’s writing and the incredible performances of its cast.

The Bear also excels in its depiction of the culinary world. The kitchen is a pressure cooker, both literally and figuratively, and the show does not shy away from depicting the stress, the exhaustion, and the occasional moments of sheer joy that come with it. This authenticity adds another layer of depth, making the stakes feel real and the characters’ struggles all the more compelling.

So, if The Bear isn’t a comedy, what is it? It’s a drama with comedic elements, a character study set against the backdrop of the culinary world, and a poignant exploration of loss, ambition, and the search for meaning. It’s a show that defies easy categorization, and that’s part of what makes it so special.

Therefore, dear Television Academy, it’s time to recognize that just because it’s 30 minutes or so long, doesn’t mean it belongs in the same category as Abbott Elementary, Curb Your Enthusiasm or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Oh wait, strike the last one, Sunny never gets nominated.

While those shows are brilliant in their own right, they occupy a different space on the television spectrum. The Bear may not be Game of Thrones, but it definitely belongs in the same league as Succession, which quite frankly was funnier than The Bear.

Christopher Storer has created a show that challenges us, makes us think, and ultimately, makes us feel. And in the end, isn’t that what great television is all about?

Bring on Season Four, Chef.


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Colin Costello is the West Coast Editor of Reel 360. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @colinthewriter1