Panicacci Recommends Netflix’s Dark Comedy, Beef

By: Lucy Panicacci

Culture Editor

Attracting lovers of relentless revenge, the dark comedy Beef dominated Netflix during April. Beef, featuring a primarily Asian-American cast, centers around an intense road rage incident between protagonists Amy Lau, played by Ali Wong, and Danny Cho, played by Steven Yeun. The incident is the last straw for Cho, sending him on an agenda to get revenge. The result of this plan is a never-ending rivalry between Amy and Danny, in which both attempt to ruin one another’s lives.

At the beginning of the show, it may seem that Amy and Danny are complete opposites: Amy is successful in her plant business Koyohaus and appears to have a loving husband and family. On the other hand, Danny struggles with a failing construction business and a strained, distant relationship with his brother Paul Cho played by Young Mazino. However, as the plot progresses, viewers witness the similarity between Amy and Danny’s endeavors and struggles, sharing existential feelings of dread and hopelessness. They view the world pessimistically, believing that anything good doesn’t last forever. As a result of their unhappiness, Danny and Amy funnel their internal crises into making a road rage incident a life-ruining disaster. Director Lee Sung Jin told GQ, “I’ve been reading some online reactions of certain people feeling like the show kind of went off the rails, and they’re right. The show very clearly does go off the rails.” Despite their rivalry, the relationship between Amy and Danny depicts how close hate is to love. 

As a classic A24 production, Beef is also visually satisfying and well done. The cinematography and lighting do an excellent job of conveying the depressing lives of Amy and Danny. With its harsh fluorescent lighting, Danny’s messy apartment is overwhelming, making me feel like I have a constant stomach ache and a mild migraine. In contrast, Amy’s house’s cement walls and lack of decoration feel empty and cold, almost like a prison. In an IndieWire interview, Cinematographer Larkin Seiple commented on his vision for the show, stating, “Everything, no matter what scene it is, has to feel like a mess.” Through this attention to detail, Seiple visually portrays the spiraling lives of Amy and Danny, elevating the entire production. With this phenomenal production and writing, Beef racked in impressive ratings, earning a 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and an 86 percent audience score. 

A story of tragedy, Beef is a one-of-a-kind work that is impossible to put down. Unlike other media, Beef highlights what meeting your mortal enemy rather than your destined soulmate is like. As Jin said in an interview with GQ, he wrote the show with the intention of “just letting everything hit the fan.” So for people lacking hope for the world and pent-up anger, Beef is a perfect watch. 

(Sources: GQ, Netflix, IndieWire)

Categories: Culture

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