If you are a dark comedy fan, Netflix’s “Beef” is going to be your new favorite series. The A24 just delivered us with the most stunning road rage story between two strangers, where you see a top-notch revenge game. The series bring forth the struggles of two distinguished classes of society. Also, westerners understand how deep-rooted anger issues drive a man to do things he would never do otherwise. The protagonists, Danny Cho and Amy Lau are two strangers who have certain striking similarities between them. The series addresses so many social issues but hilariously camouflages their seriousness.
At the same time, “Beef” highlights the importance of family, especially in an Asian household or community. Although, if you notice, the sense of family might not fit into the common definition of a truly happy family. The characters are woven beautifully. Each character in the series has numerous shades, and it is difficult to label them as good or bad. Without further delay, here is the character guide for “Beef.”
Steven Yeun As Danny Cho
Danny is a man struggling terribly to make his living in America. Like any other elder sibling in an Asian house, Danny feels responsible for his younger brother. However, he has always been a lonely and bullied child. His parents had huge expectations of him. He was expected to take care of them after they reached a certain age. However, Danny failed to do anything that was expected of him. Thus, he was generally agitated and frustrated. The extent of his frustration was visible when he got himself entangled in road rage. Danny feels like a terrible man who would not back down from any fight. Again, when you look at his decreasing chances of employment and his terrible debts, you will feel like sympathizing with him because deep down, Danny is a good man. He wants to help people, loves kids, and is not generally violent. He also wants to buy a plot of land to build a house and bring his parents to live in America. Danny is the classic example of how the propaganda of the “Great American Dream” shattered the lives of many people who thought the country would be kind. Till the very end of the series, we see Danny struggling with his inner self. It took a lot of courage on his part to finally tell his brother the truth about college applications. Danny wanted his brother to always be close to him so that he never had to be alone again. The way he tried to protect Amy’s daughter June tells us a lot about Danny’s big heart. Finally, when Amy and Danny had their first ever truly meaningful conversation, Danny seemed to have been a victim of loneliness from a very young age.
Ali Wong As Amy Lau
It might seem a little harsh, but we cannot deny that Asian women have to struggle a lot more. In the last episode, when Danny and Amy were talking, Danny rightly said that Amy is an example of why Western therapy does not improve the mental health of Eastern minds. In the East, women are treated differently, and Amy is no stranger to that. Her parents never had a real conversation with her. They also taught her to be grateful for what she has been provided with. Mental health was never discussed, and neither were problems. She felt like a burden to her family, and ever since her teenage years, she wanted to leave her parents’ home. Amy had deep-rooted issues, and they had an Elena complex. She had to fight her way to live a lavish life, and she had to pretend to fit in with the elite class. She loved her husband, but she was mentally and emotionally distant from him. She was a successful businesswoman but wanted to give that up to spend more time with her child. She was a vindictive person with a very competitive nature. Throughout the series, we see her display her vengeance in every possible shape and form. She wasn’t content with everything she had, for she was always struggling to belong somewhere. Her rage is well portrayed, as she chooses to infuriate the other driver (Danny) by constantly honking at his car and showing unpleasant hand gestures. But like any other Asian woman, she dreaded the “D” word (divorce). Even when she hooked up with Danny’s brother, she wanted to keep her marriage alive (of course, for their child). Towards the very end of the series, where she was successfully established as a crazy lady, we deeply sympathized with her. As she clung to Danny on his hospital bed, we were sure she finally belonged somewhere.
Young Mazino As Paul
There are people who can thrive in the worst conditions too. Paul, Danny’s younger brother, was such a person. He, too, was a victim of family rules and values that incapacitated him. He was treated as an ignorant and careless person by Danny. Their parents expected Danny to look after Paul, even when he was perfectly capable of doing so himself. His business ideas, his work, and his words were never considered. This is why he wanted to call for chaos. His getting involved with Amy might have been motivated by his love for her. But deeper down, his undying interest in being a part of her life was his way of defying his brother. It is a classic move for those who want to be seen and heard. Paul loved his brother, but he saw that Danny had darkness and depression, which needed to be addressed. Obviously, Danny would neither accept nor listen to Paul. Finally, after everything they had been through together, Danny told him the truth about Paul’s college applications. Knowing how his brother had damaged the chance of a brighter future, Paul walks away from Danny’s life.
Maria Bello As Jordan
As we have discussed Eastern minds and the flaws in their culture, we should talk about Jordan. If Amy was a classic example of the inability of Western therapists to rewire Eastern minds, Jordan is the reason why Western therapists exist. Jordan belonged to the privileged class of people who never had to face a struggle of any kind. However, her life is plagued with “first world problems”—a piece of art that would look fabulous in her collection wasn’t given to her or her brother because of their inability to understand why someone would sell a business to spend time with family. She was so self-consumed that she got engaged to his brother’s partner for her happiness. However, it was clear as day that Naomi (her partner) was dispensable. Everything in her life, except for her own happiness and luxury, was dispensable. Although Jordan is a minor character in the series, her conversation with Amy is important. We see the striking differences in the teachings and preachings of the Orient and the Occident.
“Beef” is a wonderful portrayal of the different classes and societies. The sarcasm wrapped in dark comedy will undoubtedly entertain you. Nonetheless, the series will keep you wondering how generational trauma and ignorance have crippled us and how dangerous it is for future generations. If you just remember how June (Amy’s daughter) threw a fit each time something triggered her, you wonder about the next generation’s descent into utter panic and worry.