Walking Dead star Steven Yeun’s Beef is uncomfortably brilliant

Beef spoilers will not be found in this review.

Ahead of the show Edition, Beef told star Ali Wong The Hollywood Reporter: “I was prepared not to have much fun on the show”. And on paper, it’s easy to see why.

Produced by A24 for Netflix, Beef follows two strangers named Danny Cho and Amy Lau who are deeply, deeply unhappy in their own separate lives. Steven Yeun’s contractor struggles with a lack of work and money, while Wong’s entrepreneur faces the opposite problem: she loses herself in a seemingly perfect life that exhausts her on all fronts.

Just when it seems it couldn’t get any worse, the two are faced with a whole new level of misery and bitterness when they are both caught up in a road accident that neither of them can get out of.


“I’ve been busy all my life… and look where it got me,” says Danny at the beginning of the series, in the middle of the buzz. Amy also works hard to support her family and her business, but she also struggles to make some time for herself. What the incident does is distill every negative feeling they both have into a desperate need for revenge that drives them even as they run on fumes.

That doesn’t sound like “a whole lot of fun,” but the revenge that Danny and Amy drives is often a petty, sadistic revenge that gets laughs as much as it gasps. Phones, cars, and even “European oak floors” are all victims of this ongoing hassle in increasingly absurd ways.

Trust former It’s always sunny in Philadelphia writer Lee Sung Jin to find the funny in such ruthless conceit. Like that show, Beef sometimes also a playful delight in cruelty. However, that doesn’t mean we totally agree with Netflix’s description of Beef as “comedy”.

You’ll certainly laugh at points, but the horror of what really unfolds here will also make you deeply uncomfortable. Despite a few memorable moments, including a particularly thrilling shooting scene that you not see in the trailersome will find Beef ruthless nihilism just a tad too ruthless, even with the humor scattered throughout.

Issues around class and mental health and how it all plays into life as an Asian-American hit hard here precisely because they are So realistic compared to the revenge arc they’re addicted to. And even the anger itself is quite recognizable too, as it derives from the same kind of helplessness that we all inevitably feel at some point. “We live in a society,” as the meme reads.

This constant, underlying tension could have made it Beef hard sell if it weren’t for Yeun and Wong. Reunited on TV again follows Tuca & Berties canceled, their new roles here couldn’t be more different from Bertie and Speckle’s if they tried.

ali wong, beef


Steven Yeun continues his enviable run of roles with Danny, channeling that innate charisma we’ve seen him pull off so effortlessly in the likes of No, Minari, And The living Dead. This time, however, his star quality is deliberately dampened and damn near suffocated by the circumstances his character finds himself in.

Maybe things would have been different if life had given Danny the right hand. Or maybe it’s really his fault that everything turned out the way it did. This nuance is a credit to both the writers and Yeun who play with notions of fate and responsibility with this downtrodden man who tries, but often fails, to do the right thing.

“I’m so tired of laughing,” Danny tells his brother, just as he answers a phone call from their mother, complete with a trademark Yeun smile. Except that the cracks in this facade are all too obvious.

Amy’s smile is similarly used as a mask, and also as a defense mechanism. How else can she survive the endless pressures of her life when everyone around her keeps telling Amy how much they envy what she has?

Wong’s comedic skills are on perfect display here, fluctuating between comedy and tragedy and the shades of gray in between in any given scene. Whether you’re laughing with Amy, frustrated with her privilege, or just can’t believe what she’s doing, you shall believe it all thanks to what is easily Wong’s best performance to date.

The success of Beef Ultimately, of course, lies with both Wong and Yeun. Neither Danny nor Amy are particularly likeable in what they do, but that somehow makes us root for them more, even knowing their obsessive need for revenge will only lead to pain and doom for all data subjects.

steven yeun, ali wong, beef


“I was prepared not to have a lot of fun on the show,” Wong said in that aforementioned interview, and maybe you don’t rely on your bandwidth for visceral, awkward stories either.

But if you give it a chance, Beef is as daring and unpredictable as the genres it navigates, shifting from drama and comedy to tragedy and even horror within a beautifully shot, exceptionally well-acted show that could very well become one of your favorites of the year.

Just don’t blame us if you disagree.

Beef will be available to stream on Netflix from 6 April.

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