Chaotic, volatile and toxic are all words I’d use to describe the dramedy Beef, starring Ali Wong and Steven Yeun. As the title suggests, the show is about two people, Danny Cho played by Yeun, and Amy Lau, played by Wong, who have beef with each other stemming from a road rage incident that descends into a turbulent and obsessive back and forth.
Lau is a successful entrepreneur married to George Nakai, a house-husband played by Joseph Lee. Cho is a contractor who lives with his younger brother and has parents living in South Korea. This series is a messy look at two individuals who live messy lives that collide. Lau, on the surface, has a picture perfect life, with an upscale home and plant selling business. But beneath the surface, the series reveals secrets that depict a not so perfect life.
Cho has his own issues. The anger and rage the two characters experience consumes them to the point of interfering with the lives of their loved ones in dangerous ways. It leads them to irrational places and even more illogical decisions such as spray painting a truck with the words “I’m a bitch,” peeing all over a bathroom floor and even kidnapping a child.
This all-consuming anger that Cho and Lau experience reveals something deeper they both share: an existential crisis. As the series unfolds, both characters realize they have more in common than they initially thought.
As the crisis unravels between these two characters, the show also explores the topic of generational trauma — an often under-discussed topic in media — in an effective way.
This show will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions, from anger to deep sadness.
Watching this series was cathartic, in a way, as it humanizes anger and dysfunction. Loss, disappointment, disillusionment and a myriad of other human emotions can lead people to make decisions they wouldn’t reach if they weren’t grappling with a crisis. Dealing with these emotions in a comedic way is what makes this series so digestible.
This dramedy is great if you enjoy dark comedy and psychological thrillers. Wong, who’s known for the romantic comedy movie Always Be My Maybe, shows us her darker side in this series. There is plenty of action, and other cast members such as David Choe and Young Mazino bring a thrill to the screen. They round out as both added layers and dimension to the story of how angering life can be.