Beef (2023) The Netflix/A24 Production is Worth Savoring

The beef in this very entertaining 10-episode limited series is an escalating feud between two people following a brilliantly staged road-rage incident in LA. We quickly realize, however, that although they move in different social circles – Danny (Steven Yeun who was Oscar-nominated for playing the kindly dad in “Minari“) is the owner of a failing business, so poor, that his parents had to return to South Korea while Amy (standup comedian Ali Wong) lives in a beautiful house in Calabasas and moves in a world of art-gallery openings and fancy parties – they are kindred spirits. Both are deeply unhappy, and both have come to a point in life where they feel like they want to start over. She has fallen out of love with her husband (a superb Joseph Lee) a self-obsessed to-the-manner-born designer of chairs and phallic-looking mini-sculptures, while he lives in a crappy apartment in the bad part of town and takes out his anger on his unfortunate flatmate (and younger brother) Paul (Young Mazino, whose amazing physique he is the beefcake in our double entendre – and understated performance put a smile on your face). Oh! And they are both first-generation Asian Americans – he is Korean on both sides while she has been blessed with a passive yet potentially explosive Vietnamese-Chinese combo. Just to add spice to the genetic cauldron, her husband is Japanese American with an imperious Japanese American mother (Patti Yasutake) and, they have a precocious five-year-old girl who is causing problems at school and likes to paint portraits of mommy and daddy that are vaguely disturbing.


Created by Lee Sung Jin, who gets extra kudos for directing the surreal final episode which differs markedly in tone from the previous nine, the series boasts a wonderful and clever script that manages to be both empathic and funny. Yeun and Wong are spectacular and the direction – evenly divided between Hikari and Jake Schreier – is inventive without calling too much attention to itself. Maria Bello shines as a demanding influencer who holds all the cards in the business deal from hell (and likes Amy but in the same way that you would like an oriental carpet) as does artist/musician David Choe as Danny’s amoral cousin and “bro” who gets in him into all sorts of trouble.



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