‘Beef’: A story of revenge or finding happiness?

Nikita Bankar

The new Netflix series “Beef” follows a petty, revenge-fueled clash between two opposing individuals’ lifestyles and explores the challenges of achieving happiness after working hard to attain it.

Danny Cho, played by Steven Yeun, is a struggling contractor living in the heart of Los Angeles. With the financial support of his cousin who is fresh out of jail, Cho hopes to keep himself and his younger brother, Paul, afloat, and bring his parents to the United States from South Korea.

Even after taking on various roles, such as Glenn Rhee in “The Walking Dead” and Jacob YiHan Ye-ri in “Minari,” becoming Danny Cho came quite easily to him due to his similarities with the character, such as being both Christian and Korean-American.

Amy Lau, played by comedian Ali Wong, is quite the opposite. As a mother, wife and growing entrepreneur, Lau finds it terrifying to imagine that the life she has worked so hard to build for her family will all come crashing down one day due to the loss of work related opportunities. 

Under any normal circumstance, there would be no reason for these two to interact. Amy lives a life of art galleries, luxury hotels and landing multimillion-dollar deals, while Danny’s life surrounds chicken sandwiches, a shared Los Angeles apartment and a small Korean church.

The beef begins after Amy cuts Danny off in the parking lot of a hardware store. Danny’s frustration gets the best of him and he pursues Amy in a high speed chase, throwing out insults as she flips him off.

The high-speed car chase creates an immediate feud between the two, escalating throughout the show from childish pranks to illegal activity.

“Beef” tells a relatable story by diving into the topics of desperation, betrayal, regret, and frustration. Both Wong and Yeun disappear into their characters, making each scene of the show compelling for its audience.

Throughout the show Lau desperately attempts to step away from work to spend time with her daughter, but finds this difficult as the chance to expand her plant business draws her attention. Cho struggles with depression after failing to find success as a contractor, finding it difficult to remain motivated after Paul constantly pokes at his weaknesses.

While seemingly a show about vindictive behavior, “Beef” is actually a story of emotional trauma and rethinking connections with those closest to us. Viewers will immediately find characters they can relate to and appreciate the vulnerability from the actors on screen.

Both characters deal with systems that oppress their drive for success. For Danny it is family and his dwindling customers while for Amy it is the corporate world and a marriage full of miscommunication.

The anger and fury spewing from both characters may be outrageous, but such reactions are something most viewers face due to life’s unpredictable circumstances. Director Lee Sung Jin, also known for directing the television series “Undone” (2019) and “Dave” (2020), does a magnificent job of crafting relatable experiences throughout the show, making it easy for viewers to connect to the characters and their situations. 

“Beef” reminds its viewers that even in the most hopeless moments, creating pain is not the answer.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars