Why you should watch the finale first

Photo: Matt Dinerstein/FX

The commercial and artistic benefits of the “all episodes available at the same time” arrangement have been debated ever since Netflix gave us the opportunity to gorge ourselves on the unique pleasure of Kevin Spacey speaking directly to you. But really, there are no rules. At a time when religious observance is at an all-time low, streaming lets you play God. So gods can I offer you the option to start FX on Hulu’s The bear with its ending if you want to watch the series definitely as a comedy.

I did this by accident. (If you’re reading this, FX PR, please sort your screeners in ascending, not descending, order.) An ending is a very strange pilot, but there’s an introductory quality to a monologue that a main character gives in his opening moments. and essential exposure in a conversation another main character has about his food past. So at the very end, something turns out I will not spoil. Just know what was apparently the cliffhanger of the second season, as an inciting incident for a television series. Again, I won’t spoil what happens, but from now on I’ll be discussing how the ending makes the viewer feel and how it influences the show. If you don’t want more information, please stop reading now. LAST WARNING.

Knowing for sure that things work out for this ragtag group of employees at Original Beef of Chicagoland radically changes the way the series unfolds from the top. The pilot throws him into the chaos of the restaurant, with everyone being disrespectful, if not downright hostile towards one another. Everything is a mess. Meat shipment is late and wrong. People are screaming “Back!” “Corner!” “Hands!” “Fire!” There is literally fire and a lot of bubbling, scalding liquid. The cuts are fast and sharp. Ironically, knives are blunt and everywhere. The opening riff to Refused’s “New Noise” is playing. It’s like raw gems it was placed entirely in the trunk of Howard’s car. Many of my co-workers found these initial episodes stressful. Some considered quitting the program if it weren’t for the effusiveness of those of us who stuck with it. I found it fun. I found funny.

There’s a theory of comedy called “benign violation” that suggests that for someone to find a joke funny, it needs to violate some sort of expectation, belief, or taboo. and this violation must be perceived as non-threatening. Watch the finale first The bearthe opening episodes feel less threatening. In the pilot, Carmy (played by Jeremy Allen White), the former chef de cuisine at the best restaurant in the country, returned to run his late brother’s Italian meat shop in Chicago. The late brother’s best friend and employee, Richie (played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach, giving one of the best and most natural performances on TV), hates everything about the world changing around him and calls Carmy “Bobby Flay” in response to their attempts to change the Beef’s operating “system”. There’s no pause in the music or reaction, nothing to suggest this is a joke. Just a frantic close-up of Carmy chopping celery as he says, “Don’t call me Bobby Flay.” I laughed out loud. I know how perfectly offensive it is for a chef with Carmy’s pedigree to be compared to TV’s most famous squirt bottle sauce dispenser, but I also know the context of Carmy and Richie’s relationship and, more importantly, where it ends. Most benign violation.

For days on Slack, Vulture employees debate whether The bear it is a comedy or a drama, a comic drama or a dramedy, or potentially post-comedy. The show itself doesn’t offer easy answers in its first season until the last five minutes of the finale. It’s a comedic ending in an almost Shakespearean sense, as two characters embark on a kind of professional marriage. Those last five minutes also provide information that totally changes the pilot. Crucially, at the end of the first episode, Carmy no do something that would change everything for the character and the restaurant. This would avoid all of the conflict and most of the heartache that occurs for most of the season. It’s a small thing and he’s right there. Knowing what I know, it’s a hilarious irony. So much so that if you decide to watch the series in chronological order, I suggest you go back and watch the last five to ten minutes of the pilot after completing the finale. I promise you will find it funny. (Or watch the entire season again: you’ll notice they peppered allusions towards the end.)

If my co-workers found The bear funny or stressful, everyone agreed that they enjoyed the show. They thought it was good and it made them hungry. Like, literally hungry for food. And hungry for more episodes or to review episodes they’ve already seen. Yes, there’s the creator’s vision of how the story should play out, but it speaks to the show’s episodic craftsmanship that you can watch any part at any time and feel like you’re getting a better understanding of the characters and their world. So as of today, you will have every episode in front of you. It will be no different when you order delivery and what was once an appetizer, entree and dessert are now all presented at the same time. You can eat dessert first if you think it will make the whole meal sweeter. It’s your party.

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