‘The Bear’ Is a Tribute to Dynamism—and What Blocks It

Jeremy Allen White and Liza Colón-Zayas in The Bear. (Image from FX Productions)

Dear Capitolisters,

My favorite new TV show (yes, it’s clearly summertime) is undoubtedly The Bear, the second season of which just dropped on Hulu. For those who haven’t seen it, the show follows prodigy chef Carmen (Carmy) Berzatto’s return to—and attempt to save—his family’s struggling Chicago sandwich joint following the untimely death of his brother, who used to run the place. As a wannabe foodie with family in the restaurant biz, I find the award-winning show practically irresistible and eerily similar to my (admittedly peripheral) experiences. On the latter point, at least, numerous restaurant pros tend to agree, writing that it’s an accurate representation of the industry’s good, bad, and ugly—no real shock, given that the show’s creator has culinary experience and that several real chefs and restaurants contributed to the production. 

Lots of virtual ink has been spilled along those lines since the show debuted last year—and about the show’s incredible soundtrack. But for my money (and since this is technically a newsletter about economic policy), the show’s accuracy extends beyond just the kitchen scenes to the messy, meritocratic dynamism that is running an American restaurant—and many of the policies that make doing so harder than it already is.

(Note: Modest spoilers throughout.)

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