A24’s road rage dramedy “Beef” just debuted on Netflix and is currently ranked #2 in the platforms Top 10 Show’s in the US Today rankings.
The show traces two equally messed up and down-on-their-luck people in Los Angeles that get into a road rage incident at a Whole Foods-like store parking lot.
Steven Yeun plays Danny Cho, the owner of a small and failing construction business and a man who will do anything it takes to scrape by, as evidenced by later events. He lives in a modest apartment with his underachieving younger brother, Paul, who refuses to get a job at the beginning of the show because he wants to become a billionaire from Bitcoin.
Comedian Ali Wong plays Danny’s counterpart, Amy Lau, the owner of a small but successful plant store that has been bought by Forsters, the Whole Foods equivalent mentioned earlier. When Amy and Danny accidentally almost crash into each other in the Forsters parking lot, it sets forth an unpredictable chain of events, although there will be no spoilers here.
One major problem this show could have is that it is kind of a slow burn for the first five episodes or so, and it just seems like a run-of-the-mill revenge TV show until it crosses the halfway point. The biggest turning point comes at the end of episode seven and will leave you wanting to finish the show immediately. Most casual TV watchers may be turned away by the slow build-up, but it becomes so worth it by the end.
Without trying to give too much away, the ninth and most intense episode will definitely leave your jaw on the floor. This is where the show really takes a turn from mature comedy to a full-on crime thriller, as everything begins to hit the fan and spell disaster for Danny and Amy.
Another bright spot in the show is the earlier mentioned Paul, portrayed by newcomer Young Mazino in his biggest role yet. After this show, he should have absolutely no trouble getting roles in more shows and movies, as he is undoubtedly one of the best parts of the show.
Even though Wong is a starring member of the cast, most of the comic relief comes from Paul, the dim-witted but somewhat lovable younger brother of Danny who gets himself caught up in his brother’s drama. Mazino’s performance is so impressive because he tows the line between comedic and dramatic acting so well that when he finally realizes how deep he is, the viewer can’t help but feel a little sorry for him.
Another incredible performance in the show is unsurprisingly Yeun as Danny, although it’s a different kind of character than we have mostly seen him play in the past. Yeun has mostly gotten used to playing the good guy ever since his success in “The Walking Dead” and “Minari,” so it’s a little surprising that he handles the arrogant and apathetic Danny so well.
Even in the Korean-language thriller “Burning,” where he plays the main villain, he’s a very cool and subdued character with the typical bright smile that the viewer recognizes from Yeun as a good guy. In “Beef,” however, he’s a rude jerk who essentially doesn’t realize how dangerous he’s acting until it’s too late.
The last standout performance in the show is Wong, who comes as a surprise to the dramatic front. While she was in “Birds of Prey” and “Always Be My Maybe,” which both had some drama in them, she really gets to flex her dramatic muscles in this show, since Mazino handles most of the comedic relief.
Overall, “Beef” is an exhilarating and rewatchable thrill ride that will cause even the most cynical viewers to shed a tear by the penultimate episode. The show earns an 8/10 here and is available to watch on Netflix right now.