Why Is Everyone Saying ‘The Bear’ Is a Bad Show?

Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty Images
Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty Images

If there’s one thing pop culture fans relish more than the return of a beloved, favorite TV series, it’s the accompanying opportunity to bitch and moan about the show once it’s back.

It’s a familiar path, one so well traveled by some of the most popular recent television series that, by this point, the phenomenon could be considered a badge of honor: a show that becomes so successful, it falls prey to predictable backlash. Early seasons are so heralded and expectations for new episodes are so high that they become subject to a scrutiny that’s impossible to weather.

That seems to be the case with Season 3 of The Bear, a show that won just about every television award that exists for its first two seasons. Perhaps more impressive and indicative of its universal appeal was the fact that just about every person I know has, at some point in the last years, stared me in the eyes, almost crazed with adoration, and fawned, “Have you seen The Bear? It’s so good!

And, as is the pattern in cases like this, it appears that the tide is turning against the show. Reviews have been more mixed for Season 3 than the previous two outings. On social media, there are viewers posting their not-so-stellar reactions to the new episodes. At the very least, people are feeling emboldened to articulate that, apparently, they never really liked the show in the first place. Maybe because there seems to be a bubbling distaste for the series, they feel like they can finally admit their negative thoughts without being blasted by the show’s passionate fanbase.

‘The Bear’ Cast Raves About That Big (Really Big) Guest Star

Vanity Fair’s review of the series said that, “In all its shifts in style and focus, the Emmy-winning juggernaut doesn’t seem to be building to much of anything.” Variety’s review called the series “aimless,” arguing that the narrative is “bogged down with repetition and stunt casting before the season ends with most storylines unresolved.” New York ruled that the show is “trapped by its own success,” writing, “instead of looking forward, The Bear spends a lot of time staring backward and sideways.”

Of course, this is a top-tier series with an ace writing staff, an audacious sense of storytelling, and actors delivering riveting—if stress-inducing—lived-in performances. Even when its flaws are more exposed amidst its wild success, The Bear is still capable of excellence.

In his review, my colleague Nick Schager wrote, “In case anyone doubted that The Bear was TV’s most artistically daring and electric series, the third season of Chris Storer’s acclaimed FX on Hulu hit, premiering June 26, comes out of the gate with an absolute knockout.”

After finishing Season 3’s 10 episodes, I see both sides. This is a season that served more iterations of its most celebrated delicacies: some episodes that were tornadoes of chaos and stress, some that contrasted the pandemonium with a quiet and tender poignance, and others that un-self-consciously stopped the action completely to focus on the inner lives of supporting characters.

When you’re being presented with familiar dishes, now for a third time, it’s a natural reaction to sigh: “This again?” The constant screaming in the kitchen can get exhausting. The sojourns into standalone episodes can be predictable. The sheer volume of montages veer into overkill. (Truly, enough with the montages!)

But the brilliance is undeniable. The episode where Abby Elliott and Jamie Lee Curtis’ characters repair their complicated relationship while Elliott’s Sugar gives birth to her first child is 0ne of the best TV outings of the year so far; because I couldn’t look away from the screen, I didn’t realize that there were tears streaming down my cheeks until the episode ended and I could finally breathe.

I guess the main takeaway I have is to take the rise in so-called “hate” for The Bear with a grain of salt. (Cooking reference not intentional.) Do the detractors have a point? Here’s a sampling of the anti-Bear reactions:

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