Why Is Netflix’s ‘Beef’ Trending?

The newly acclaimed series, “Beef,” has an interesting name nonetheless. You may immediately associate the show with a production from the Food Network or some sort of documentary about cows, but let me stop you right there. No, this show is not about beef, cows, or anything of that nature. Netflix’s new sensation is based on the trending slang term. According to Urban Dictionary, beef is “to have a grudge or start one with another person.” But, how does that come into play? Is it worth the watch? Well, allow me to fill you in…

First, we are introduced to a man named Danny Cho (Steven Yeun). To say he is struggling is an understatement. This poor man has been trying to work his way up toward the American Dream and yet seems to barely make it past the first step. Danny lives with his younger brother who seemingly does nothing but play video games as Danny attempts to make a living as a contractor. He needs this money to not only provide for himself and his brother but also to fly his parents back to the States from Korea. His responsibilities are mountains that are too high even to see the peak.

At the beginning of the first episode, Danny is clearly having a rough day and says the phrase “There’s always something.” This will be important later on. Danny returns to his old truck from a disappointing visit to the store. As he begins to back up, a white Mercedes speeding by, causes both vehicles to abruptly stop to avoid crashing. The driver of the white Mercedes lays her horn loudly and obnoxiously long at Danny. Finally, the driver decides to move on but only drives a few lengths so they halt and proudly raise their middle finger at Danny. 

Courtesy of Netflix.

Fired up, Danny decides to chase after the white Mercedes. The two end up swerving all over the road, violating a number of traffic regulations. Danny does not give up on his pursuit despite the Mercedes throwing a drink at his windshield. This only escalates his anger and the number of curse words that fall out of his mouth. They aggressively end their fight as the white Mercedes gives the impression that they are ramming into Danny’s truck until they quickly stop and proceed with their day. This scene had my jaw touching the floor while forming a faint smile at the corners of my mouth — I could not believe what had just happened. And that ladies and gentlemen is how the “beef” begins.

You may be wondering who the driver of the white Mercedes is and what could possibly be their problem. Well not too much later, following the car scene, we are introduced to Amy Lau (Ali Wong). She is a woman of great success, relatively speaking. Amy has a nice house, is married to a man who comes from wealth, has a beautiful daughter, and has a blooming career in the world of art. Yet, she finds herself unable to enjoy the fruits of her labor because there is constant work that needs to be done in order for her to maintain the rewards. Amy is beyond overwhelmed and the steam coming off from the frustration in her life toppled over Danny in their thrilling exchange. In her mind, she can’t catch a break as she barely survives the world’s weight on her shoulders in which she always says “there’s always something”— told you it would be important!

Netflix does an amazing job displaying the diversity of lifestyles in the Asian American community. There are those who are struggling to fully get a move on towards a prosperous future like Danny Cho. But on the other hand, some appear to have everything in their life laid out perfectly when in reality, they are barely breaking the surface for air like Amy Lau. They are under similar amounts of stress and anxiety in their lives that when their worlds collide, there is an explosion! 

By participating in this eruption of emotions, from their interaction, the two begin to continue to antagonize each other. Just like the shenanigans in “Tom and Jerry,” the two are persistent in trying to destroy the other’s life. Why wouldn’t they? It gives them an outlet for all the frustration they have been experiencing as well as a break from their realities. Some may participate in affairs or partying to distract them from their personal problems but not Danny and Amy. These two choose violence, literally! 

Courtesy of Netflix.

Another great aspect of this show is how authentically they capture the modern reality and present this idea of inflation and rage in people has become quite popular in our culture. A popular outlet for this rage is recent technological advances. With technology, we have almost unlimited access to anything including the information of others. Usually that technology serves as a weapon against our foe. Danny and Amy memorize each other’s license plates after their encounters, looking up the owner of the car and their future target. They both pay the $80 fee to access the other’s personal information like their address. It is hilarious how Amy acts like this is the best deal on Black Friday. Although this show highlights the extreme yet possible situations in a darkly humorous way, the idea is not far-fetched. 

Still unsure about this show? Well, let’s look at one of its biggest successes with Rotten Tomatoes. “Beef” could not be more of a hit with its 100% rating! This is clearly a representation of how well the actors were able to immerse themselves and portray a world of rage and anger. Not to mention that this show executes a very accurate representation of real life and the various hardships anyone can/will face. 

“Beef” has one of those intriguing, unforgettable names that have a strong magnetizing allure with it. As two different sides of society classes clash, it will lead you through the sympathetic journey of both Danny and Amy. Netflix’s modern show provides you with that escape from life to think about the realities of technology and lessons for growth. But as exciting and enlightening as this series is, it will be sure to give you a core workout. In the end, I highly recommend this show to anyone and everyone.

By Charley Lustig

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