Review by Dan Skip Allen
There are always those moments when you see a trailer of a film or television show, and think it looks good, until you actually see the said show or film. That is the situation with Beef, the latest dramedy from Netflix. The cast was a huge draw for me to see this series, but even they couldn't save it for me. This show ended up being a complete disaster in every sense of the word. And I really wanted to like it.
Danny Cho (Steven Yeun) is a struggling home repair man who lives with his lazy brother. They used to work for their parents at their hotel before it was bought out from underneath them by shifty business practices. One sunny afternoon, he is at a traffic light, and he gets beeped at by a passenger in a white SUV. This causes him to have road rage, and he chases after the offender. They end up going on a race through the streets of their California town, which causes damage to a man's garden and yard.
It turns out the person in the White SUV was a successful entrepreneur, and mother Amy Lau (Ali Wong). She has a husband and a little girl. From the outside looking in, her life seems idyllic. She has a beautiful home she renovated herself, and her husband is an artist that makes a lot of money. She should be happy with her life, but she's not. She's miserable. She wants more than to be the token wife of a popular artist and the daughter-in-law of his equally artistic mother.
This incident starts a series of events that make each of these two people try to one-up each other with (at first) childish pranks, like peeing all over the floor of a bathroom, but end up in the arson of a house for one of them. The pranks get very elaborate between the first one and the last, and a bunch of other people end up getting involved whether they want to or not.
The cast is vast of a bunch more Asian comedians, who all fill space in this rivalry that forms between these two immature people. Some of them are just in the way, like the cousin of the main character, a church pastor, and the husband of Wong's character. They all serve a purpose, but in the end, they are just wasted space so this rivalry could grow or drag on further than it should have. This series is way too long!
There are ten episodes of this show, and most of them are thirty OR SO minutes long, but they seem to go a lot longer than that. One crazy event after another keeps this series going for way too long. All the various events are caused by a convoluted story that entwines many characters. What may be the ultimate reason for all this? What repressed sexual tension between the two lead characters, and anxiety and depression? It's hard to tell with all the craziness going on in the show.
One redeeming quality the series has is the choice of music played during the entire show, and that is '90s grunge music from various bands I loved during those years of my life, and afterwards, like Smashing Pumpkins and Hoobastank, to many more I listen to still to this day. It's weird that a show I'm not all that enamored with has such a great soundtrack that I love so much. I'm sure many who watch the series will feel the same way as I do on this matter.
Beef tries to be this clever show that mixes all these subjects of life in it. It has a very good, mostly Asian cast of comedians and actors. Because of my disdain for the structure and direction of the series, the episodes seemed way too long. And ten episodes were too many. This series seemed to me an excuse for the creator to get some repressed sexual tension out in the form of these characters. The inspiring event was enough for me to get on board with this idea. Everything in between seemed way overboard and I wasn't onboard this sinking ship from the very beginning. I may be in the minority though! Who knows, but this show was bad to me in the worst way possible. I didn't care about the characters or what they were found in the least. This show was a waste of my time.
Beef streams on Netflix beginning April 6. All ten episodes reviewed.