The Bear Needs To Keep Its Sense Of Humor Or It Will Fail

By Robert Scucci | Published

The Bear will see its season 3 FX on Hulu premiere on June 27, and I couldn’t be more excited to binge-watch the entire 10-episode run in a single sitting. As a former line-cook of 12 years, one thing that draws me to the series is how accurate it portrays the back-of-house camaraderie found in a busy kitchen when everybody is on the verge of losing their minds. While The Bear is by now well-known for its dark sense of humor, I can’t help but worry that the series that’s currently categorized as a comedy-drama may be diving too deep into straight-up drama territory, which would hurt the show in my opinion.

Keep The “Comedy” In Comedy-Drama

The Bear Season 2

I may be jumping the gun with my assumptions about The Bear’s upcoming season 3 premiere, however. I’m really only working with the trailer, which comes off as incredibly tense and anxiety-inducing as Carmy Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White) goes off the deep-end while trying to earn a Michelin Star for the titular fine-dining establishment. I still remain hopeful that the series won’t lose its sense of humor because it has proven in the past that it knows how to tread the line between existential dread and comic relief.

“Fishes” Broke Audiences, But Brought It Back

The Bear "Fishes"

Though I’m still mentally recovering from season 2’s “Fishes” episode, I’m confident that The Bear will continue to make me uncomfortable while saving face through its sense of humor in season 3.

For those of you who haven’t yet watched this episode (or erased it from your memory for the sake of your mental health), it’s a 66-minute exercise in familial deterioration set years before the events that take place in the series. In “Fishes,” Carmy is home for the holidays, and his mother, Donna (Jamie Lee Curtis), is on the verge of a psychotic episode while preparing her version of the Feast of the Seven Fishes. The episode throws its audience into hostile territory as Carmy’s brother, Michael (Jon Bernthal), antagonizes everybody in his path as his drug addiction is at its absolute highest point before his tragic passing.

We Don’t Need Another Donna

The Bear Season 2 finale

As uncomfortable as “Fishes” proved itself to be, its overall tense atmosphere was expertly offset by Neil Fak’s (Matty Matheson) big and boisterous persona, as well as several guest spots that prominently featured the likes of Bob Odenkirk, John Mulaney, and Sarah Paulson to add some levity to the recipe.

While I don’t know for sure what kind of family dynamic The Bear will explore in season 3, I do know that Carmy is very much his mother’s son, and may very well have several more outbursts that will lead to Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) referring to him as “Donna” like he did in the season 2 finale, “The Bear.” Carmy’s perfectionism seems to be the focal point of the upcoming season, and his desire to be the best of the best will naturally be to the detriment of his mental well-being, and the well-being of those who care about him.

Treading The Line

The Bear season 2

In my opinion, The Bear season 3 can go in two different directions. The first direction the series can take, which is the one I’m hoping for, would involve Carmy descending into culinary management madness as he tries to become the legendary restaurateur he set out to be since the series saw its inaugural episode. As he gets further lost in the sauce (read: consommé), Richie, Sydney (Ayo Edebiri), Marcus (Lionel Boyce), and his sister, Natalie (Abby Elliot), try to reel him in, leading to a healthy source of tension-breaking that allows viewers to breathe for a second.

But if The Bear decides to take a darker turn with season 3, I fear that we’ll end up with another show like House that started out with a strong sense of humor and got increasingly serious as the series progressed into its later seasons. I’m not entirely against The Bear taking this approach, but if everybody is straight-faced and serious the entire time, I may decide to tap out early.

It Can’t Be All Blow-Outs

The Bear Season 1

I’m not opposed to The Bear introducing new sources of conflict to its premise, but season 3 needs to continue doing what its preceding seasons did best: make me laugh. Not unlike working in a real restaurant, there is an ebb and flow that’s necessary if you want to keep going back to work every day. Screaming matches are to be expected, but it’s the post-blowout cigarette break full of inside jokes and pats on the back that allow you to keep your head down and push through the drama.