Beef is an American comedy-drama television miniseries created by Korean-American director Lee Sung Jin for Netflix. It stars Steven Yeun and Ali Wong as Danny Cho and Amy Lau, respectively; two strangers whose involvement in a road rage incident escalates into a prolonged feud. Appearing in supporting roles are Joseph Lee, Young Mazino, David Choe, and Patti Yasutake.

Beef
Promotional poster
Genre
Created byLee Sung Jin
Starring
Music byBobby Krlic
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes10
Production
Executive producers
  • Lee Sung Jin
  • Steven Yeun
  • Ali Wong
  • Jake Schreier
  • Ravi Nandan
  • Alli Reich
Producers
  • Jes Anderson
  • Savey Cathey
  • Inman Young
  • Alex Gayner
  • Matthew Medlin
CinematographyLarkin Seiple
Editors
Running time30–39 minutes
Production companies
  • A24
  • Bugsy Bell Productions
  • Universal Remote
  • Buji Productions
  • Domo Arigato Productions
Original release
NetworkNetflix
ReleaseApril 6, 2023 (2023-04-06)

The ten-episode series was released on Netflix on April 6, 2023, to acclaim from critics who praised Yeun's and Wong's performances, as well as the writing and directing. At the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards, it received eight wins, including Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series and acting wins for Yeun and Wong.[2] At the 81st Golden Globe Awards, it won in all three of its nominated categories, including Best Limited or Anthology Series or Television Film.

Cast and characters edit

Main edit

  • Steven Yeun as Danny Cho, a struggling contractor of Korean heritage who is involved in a road rage incident[3][4]
  • Ali Wong as Amy Lau, a small business owner of Chinese and Vietnamese heritage and the other party in the road rage incident[5]
  • Joseph Lee as George Nakai, a sculptor of Japanese heritage and Amy's stay-at-home husband
  • Young Mazino as Paul Cho, Danny's languishing younger brother
  • David Choe as Isaac Cho, Danny and Paul's cousin, recently released from prison
  • Patti Yasutake as Fumi Nakai, George's mother

Recurring edit

  • Maria Bello as Jordan Forster, the wealthy owner of a home improvement chain store
  • Ashley Park as Naomi, Jordan's sister-in-law and Amy's neighbor
  • Mia Serafino as Mia, Amy's assistant
  • Remy Holt as June, Amy and George's young daughter
  • Justin H. Min as Edwin, a praise leader in a Korean church and husband of Danny's ex-girlfriend
  • Alyssa Gihee Kim as Veronica, Danny's ex-girlfriend and Edwin's wife
  • Andie Ju as Esther, a friend of Edwin and Veronica
  • Andrew Santino as Michael, an associate of Isaac
  • Rek Lee as Bobby, another associate of Isaac

Guest edit

Episodes edit

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
1"The Birds Don't Sing, They Screech in Pain"HikariLee Sung JinApril 6, 2023 (2023-04-06)
Danny Cho, a contractor struggling to maintain clients, nearly drives his truck into Amy Lau's SUV in the parking lot of home improvement store Forsters, where Amy is organizing the sale of her business to the chain's owner, Jordan. The incident between Amy and Danny escalates to road rage and a destructive car chase. Amy drives away, and Danny notes her license plate number. Both are struggling with tensions in their personal and professional lives. Danny believes his brother Paul is irresponsible, and feels burdened to help his elderly parents, who moved back to Korea after being forced to sell their motel business. Amy, the breadwinner, is stressed by trying to close the sale and struggles to convey its importance to her well-intentioned stay-at-home husband, George. Later Danny borrows money from his recently paroled cousin Isaac, whose illicit activities resulted in the loss of the Chos’ motel business. Danny tracks Amy down via her license plate number and uses his role as a contractor to enter her Calabasas home and take revenge by urinating all over her bathroom. Furious, Amy chases him and notes his license plate number as he drives away laughing.
2"The Rapture of Being Alive"Jake SchreierAlice JuApril 6, 2023 (2023-04-06)
Amy and George agree to find Danny and use his license plate number to track him down to his family's old motel business. She also begins to flood his business with bad reviews. Affected by the negative reviews, Danny gets the idea from Isaac to start a new business under Paul's name. Paul suggests they try to acquire new clients in Orange County and proposes they approach Danny's ex-girlfriend, Veronica, and her husband Edwin. The couple invites the Cho brothers to their church, Living Glory. Amy catfishes Paul on Instagram, impersonating her assistant Mia (who's having an affair with George), under another name, and has an argument with George at a gallery opening because she feels unsupported when he refuses to sell a beloved art piece made by his deceased father, a famous sculptor, to Jordan. Upset that the deal might be jeopardized, Amy funnels her anger towards vandalizing Danny's truck. Danny, after seeing the truck, proceeds to argue with Paul, which results in the both of them cancelling their planned joint business venture. Amy agrees to couples therapy with George. Later that night, Danny drives to Amy's home, wielding a hammer.
3"I Am Inhabited by a Cry"Jake SchreierCarrie KemperApril 6, 2023 (2023-04-06)
Amy and George attend couples therapy. Danny experiences a strong emotional release while attending worship at Veronica and Edwin's church and is invited to do repair jobs around the building. After a stressful meeting with Jordan, Amy opens up to Paul over the phone. Amy admits to George that she feels blocked, but he does not seem to understand, leaving her feeling more disconnected. Hoping to secure a loan to buy a piece of property for his parents, Danny is rejected by every bank because he lacks a substantial down payment. He and Isaac approach Living Glory Church to secure money for the down payment, and offers their contracting services free of charge for renovations. With their plan set in motion, the cousins steal materials for the renovations at another construction site. Jordan brings Amy the term sheet for their deal, which involves Amy staying on for five more years, to Amy's dismay. Understanding Amy's disappointment, Jordan convinces Amy to come to her corporate retreat in Vegas to discuss the terms with her board. Paul visits Amy's store looking for "Kayla". When she admits to catfishing him, Paul kisses her.
4"Just Not All at the Same Time"HikariAlex RussellApril 6, 2023 (2023-04-06)
Amy reveals to Paul that she is married and will be leaving for Las Vegas to speak at a conference. Amy, George and their daughter prepare to leave for Vegas, however, she vehemently disagrees about going. As such, George remains home to look after her. After getting Danny and Isaac drunk, Paul steals Danny's truck and drives to Las Vegas. When they recover, Danny and Isaac follow Paul to Las Vegas. Paul meets with Amy at her hotel room and they spend the night together, although Amy insists they keep their relationship platonic. As Amy talks at the conference, Isaac spots Paul in the hotel restaurant and chases him to Amy's room, where Danny and Isaac confront him. Danny and Isaac spot Amy at the conference as they leave the hotel. Danny procedes to heckle her about the road rage incident, before him and Issac are escorted out by security. After the talk, Amy confides with Jordan that she intents to sign on, as she feels this is what she has been missing in her life. Naomi, overhearing their talk about the heckling earlier, decides to look into the online post regarding the road rage incident again. After another chase, Danny and Isaac are apprehended by police as Amy watches, gloating.
5"Such Inward Secret Creatures"HikariMarie Hanhnhon Nguyen & Niko Gutierrez-KovnerApril 6, 2023 (2023-04-06)
After crossing state lines to find Paul in Las Vegas, Isaac is placed under house arrest. Danny befriends George using a false name. Danny visits Isaac and tries to convince him to steal valuable artworks from George and Amy's home. However, Isaac lashes out over his arrest and the money Danny owes him, and does not agree to the plan. Danny convinces Isaac's associates Michael and Bobby to rob the house, but when George confides in him about his loneliness, he feels guilty and tries to call off the robbery. Danny convinces George to leave home temporarily. Amy returns home, and invites Paul. They have sex, but argue after Paul asks her for money. Amy orders Paul to leave. Amy's neighbor Naomi becomes suspicious about her involvement in the road rage incident, which Amy has been covering up, and starts investigating. George's mother Fumi sneaks into the home to look at the artworks, intending to sell them. Michael and Bobby break in and are confronted by Fumi. After she threatens them with Amy's gun, she trips and falls down the stairs.
6"We Draw a Magic Circle"Jake SchreierJoanna CaloApril 6, 2023 (2023-04-06)
Isaac takes over running the renovation operations at the church. Danny tries to get Paul to open up about his breakup with Amy, but Paul remains closed off. Naomi visits Fumi, trying to investigate the connection between Amy's road rage incident and the robbery. Amy administers Fumi with extra painkillers, leaving her unconscious and unable to talk to Naomi. Amy meets with Danny, and she agrees to pay him enough to clear his debt with Isaac to implicate someone else in the incident. However, Fumi tells Naomi there is no connection, which leads Amy to call off the deal with Danny. Isaac is arrested because the road-rage episode becomes public and the police believe he was the one driving his truck.
7"I Am a Cage"Jake SchreierLee Sung Jin & Kevin RosenApril 6, 2023 (2023-04-06)
Eight months later, Amy has finalized the sale of her business. She and George have bought a vacation home, and have hired a nanny to help care for their daughter, June. Danny has become a praise leader and built his parents a house using cash Isaac hid in the church. Edwin asks to get involved in Danny's business, but Danny denies any illegal activity and rejects him. After George admits to an affair with Amy's former assistant, Amy expresses her doubts about her marriage to their couples counselor. George invites Danny to a party celebrating his art, where he realizes Amy was the woman Paul had been seeing. After arguing with Danny, Amy asks George about moving out of the city. Paul goes through the business accounts and becomes suspicious, but Danny diverts him by revealing Amy used Paul to further their feud. Paul impulsively tells George about his affair with Amy. Danny picks his parents up from the airport and drives them to the house he built for them. When they arrive, they find that the house has burned down.
8"The Drama of Original Choice"Jake SchreierLee Sung Jin & Jean Kyoung FrazierApril 6, 2023 (2023-04-06)
Amy remembers traumatic events from her youth that have prompted her to conceal things and lie to people as an adult. Amy reveals her feud with Danny to George, who asks her for a divorce. Danny suspects the house fire was caused by arson, and attacks Edwin at his home after seeing him at the scene. Edwin denies any involvement. Danny learns that his own faulty wiring caused the fire, but tells Paul that Amy set it with gasoline. Danny visits George at home, still using a false name, intending to plant evidence incriminating Amy. George discovers Danny's identity and tells June to get in the car. Danny and George fight. Danny knocks George unconscious and flees in his truck, but realizes that June is in the backseat.
9"The Great Fabricator"Jake SchreierLee Sung JinApril 6, 2023 (2023-04-06)
Isaac is cleared of the road rage charges and is released from prison. George calls Amy at Jordan's home, telling her that Danny has kidnapped June. Danny brings June back to the motel, where Isaac assaults him and demands his money. An Amber alert is issued for June, prompting Isaac to kidnap her, restraining Danny and Paul. He demands a $500,000 ransom from Amy. Amy encourages him to rob valuable artifacts from Jordan's home instead. Amy calls George to collect June, but asks him not to call the police. Bobby holds Danny, Paul and June hostage in the car while Isaac and Michael break into Jordan's home, holding Jordan, Naomi, and Amy at gunpoint. The police arrive, panicking Isaac and Michael. Danny and Paul manage to subdue Bobby, escape their restraints and leave June in the car, but are brought into the house at gunpoint by Michael. Isaac locks them outside in the yard. During a moment of confusion, Isaac and Michael lose control of the situation and Jordan and Naomi attempt to escape to a panic room, but Naomi activates the door control too early, which crushes Jordan to death. A security smokescreen is released into the house as a firefight ensues between the police, Michael and Isaac. Outside, Danny helps Paul escape over the wall. Danny admits to Paul that in 2008, he secretly put Paul's college applications in the trash because he didn't want to be alone. Distraught, Paul leaves, but he is seemingly shot by the police. Michael is killed and Isaac and Bobby are arrested. Amy learns that George has taken June home without her and that she will be denied custody. Danny escapes Jordan's house in a stolen truck. He encounters Amy on the road and they both lose control of their vehicles and drive off a cliff.
10"Figures of Light"Lee Sung JinLee Sung JinApril 6, 2023 (2023-04-06)
Injured after their car crashes, Amy and Danny attack each other, but are stranded with no cell phone reception. Amy forces Danny at gunpoint to forage for food, which leads them to consume poisonous berries. They both become sick and dehydrated and, believing themselves to be dying, confide in each other and come to an understanding about their respective sadness. They survive, and make their way back towards the city. Once they get phone reception back, Amy has dozens of messages and missed calls, and Danny learns that Paul is alive, though Paul doesn't want to speak to him. As they reach safety, Amy collapses and Danny goes to help her up, but George appears and shoots Danny, seemingly believing that he is trying to harm Amy. Amy waits by Danny's hospital bed. A flashback to the road rage incident reveals that Amy hesitated for a few moments before ultimately deciding to give Danny the middle finger. Amy embraces Danny in the hospital bed as he lies unconscious. Days pass, and Danny returns her embrace.

Production edit

The project, created by Korean-American director Lee Sung Jin and set to star Steven Yeun and Ali Wong was first announced in March 2021, with a bidding war happening over the series rights.[8] Netflix would eventually win the rights.[9] In December, Lee Isaac Chung was reported to be directing the pilot episode.[10] In March 2022, additional castings were announced, including David Choe and Patti Yasutake,[11] and the pilot episode would instead be directed by Japanese director Hikari. She was also confirmed to direct several additional episodes.[12]

Filming had begun by April 2022.[13]

Lee Sung Jin has planned the show to last three seasons: "There are a lot of ideas on my end to keep this story going. I think should we be blessed with a Season Two, there's a lot of ways for Danny and Amy to continue. I have one really big general idea that I can't really say yet, but I have three seasons mapped out in my head currently."[14]

In February 2024, it was announced that a second season was being actively explored, with Charles Melton, Cailee Spaeny, Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway being considered for roles.[15]

Music edit

Release edit

Beef premiered at the 2023 SXSW Festival on March 18, 2023.[16] It premiered on Netflix on April 6, 2023.[17]

Reception edit

Critical response edit

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 98% of 116 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 8.4/10. The website's consensus reads: "Ali Wong and Steven Yeun are a diabolically watchable pair of adversaries in Beef, a prime cut comedy that finds the pathos in pettiness."[18] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 86 out of 100 based on 34 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[19]

The performances of Steven Yeun and Ali Wong garnered widespread critical acclaim, with both winning Golden Globe and Primetime Emmy Awards.

Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com gave Beef 3.5 out of 4 stars. In his review of the show, he noted that the general mood of the country, which is characterized by anxiety, frustration, and anger, was effectively used to create a "tonally daring" show that vacillates between comedy, drama, and thriller. Tallerico praised the show for its well-structured plotting and lauded the performances of Steven Yeun and Ali Wong, calling them the best he has seen that year, and applauds their ability to make their characters relatable and grounded. However, Tallerico also noted that the show's penultimate episode became "a little hard-to-swallow" and took away some significant decisions from the characters, which detracted from the thematically rich narrative.[20]

In her review for Variety, Alison Herman praised Beef for the excellent chemistry between Ali Wong and Steven Yeun, as well as for their performances. She noted that the show starts grounded in emotional concerns but spirals ever further out into surrealism and caricatures, sometimes distracting from the show's "core insights".[21] In a review for NPR, Linda Holmes explained that the show is interested in big questions about meaning and purpose in life and "tackles them with inventiveness and deep empathy". She praised the show's stunning, surprising, and empathetic portrayal of the muddled humanity of its very messy characters and its ability to blend humor with deep existential questions. Herman also praised the performances, especially Steven Yeun's, and the show's production design.[22]

Ben Travers of IndieWire gave the series a grade of B and stated that it does a fine job balancing the protagonists' practical intelligence and impractical passions. He added that the series is designed to evoke empathy for each combatant while exploring their shared humanity and collective hardships, and it delves into their demons while drawing parallels between the two leads. He noted that despite some of the plot twists feeling forced, Wong and Yeun "shine throughout".[23] Ellen E. Jones of The Guardian gave the show 4 out of 5 stars and described it as a "dark, existential thriller" and a "delicacy worth savouring". She noted that the show's "extremely funny" dialogue and chaos highlighted the quality of its leads.[24]

In his review for The New York Times, television critic James Poniewozik described Beef as a "thrilling dark comedy" that "delves into the intricacies of anger via a road-rage feud between two drivers who share more in common than meets the eye". He praised the show's attention to the motivations that led to the conflict and the personal and cultural specificity of its study of anger. Poniewozik also noted that the show's Asian cast was both a casual fact of the setting and integral to its themes.[25] In a review for the Chicago Sun-Times, Richard Roeper described Beef as "bold, darkly funny, emotionally bruising, provocative and wicked-smart social satire". He commended the ensemble cast for their exceptional performances, particularly Ali Wong and Steven Yeun. Comparing the show to "Falling Down and Changing Lanes with a touch of The White Lotus", Roeper claimed that it was the best series he had seen all year.[26]

Accolades edit

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2023 Set Decorators Society of America Awards Best Achievement in Décor/Design of a Half-Hour Single-Camera Series Kellie Jo Tinney, Grace Yun Nominated [27]
Television Critics Association Awards Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries or Specials Beef Won [28]
Astra TV Awards Best Streaming Limited or Anthology Series Won [29]
Best Actor in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Steven Yeun Nominated
Best Actress in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Ali Wong Won
Best Supporting Actor in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Young Mazino Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Ashley Park Nominated
Maria Bello Nominated
Best Directing in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Lee Sung Jin (for "Figures of Light") Won
Best Writing in a Streaming Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Lee Sung Jin (for "The Birds Don't Sing, They Screech in Pain") Nominated
Astra Creative Arts TV Awards Best Casting in a Limited Series or TV Movie Beef Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series Beef Won [2][30]
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Steven Yeun Won
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Ali Wong Won
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Joseph Lee Nominated
Young Mazino Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Maria Bello Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Lee Sung Jin (for "Figures Of Light") Won
Jake Schreier (for "The Great Fabricator") Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Lee Sung Jin (for "The Birds Don't Sing, They Screech in Pain") Won
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Casting for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Charlene Lee and Claire Koonce Won
Outstanding Contemporary Costumes for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Helen Huang, Austin Wittick, YJ Hwang, and Mark Anthony Summers (for "The Birds Don't Sing, They Screech in Pain") Won
Outstanding Picture Editing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Nat Fuller and Laura Zempel (for "Figures of Light") Won
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Penny Harold, Andrew Garrett Lange, and Sean O'Malley (for "The Great Fabricator") Nominated
Gotham Independent Film Awards Outstanding Performance in a New Series Steven Yeun Nominated [31]
Ali Wong Won
Breakthrough Television Under 40 Minutes Beef Won
Hollywood Music in Media Awards Best Original Score — TV Show/Limited Series Bobby Krlic Nominated [32]
American Film Institute Awards Top 10 Television Programs Beef Won[a] [33]
2024
Golden Globe Awards Best Limited or Anthology Series or Television Film Beef Won [34]
Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Steven Yeun Won
Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Ali Wong Won
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Limited Series Beef Won [35]
Best Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television Steven Yeun Won
Best Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television Ali Wong Won
Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television Maria Bello Won
AACTA International Awards Best Drama Series Beef Nominated [36]
Best Actress in a Series Ali Wong Nominated
Art Directors Guild Awards Excellence in Production Design for a Television Movie or Limited Series Grace Yun Won [37]
People's Choice Awards Bingeworthy Show of the Year Beef Nominated [38]
Female TV Star of the Year Ali Wong Nominated
Comedy TV Star of the Year Nominated
Costume Designers Guild Awards Excellence in Contemporary Television Helen Huang (for "The Birds Don't Sing, They Screech in Pain") Won [39]
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Steven Yeun Won [40]
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Ali Wong Won
Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series Beef Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards Best New Scripted Series Lee Sung Jin, Steven Yeun, Ali Wong, Jake Schreier, Ravi Nandan, Alli Reich' Alice Ju, Carrie Kemper Won [41]
Best Lead Performance in a New Scripted Series Ali Wong Won
Steven Yeun Nominated
Producers Guild of America Awards Best Limited Series Television Beef Won [42]
Cinema Audio Society Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Non-Theatrical Motion Pictures or Limited Series Sean O'Malley, Penny Harold, Andrew Garrett Lange, Andrey Starikovskiy (for "The Great Fabricator") Nominated [43]
American Cinema Editors Best Edited Limited Series Harry Yoon and Laura Zempel (for "The Birds Don't Sing, They Screech in Pain") Won [44]
Nat Fuller (for "The Great Fabricator") Nominated
Golden Reel Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Broadcast Short Form Christopher Gomez, Jerry Lafuente, Nathan Efstation, Igor Yashin, Ruslan Schebisty (for "The Great Fabricator") Nominated [45]
Outstanding Achievement in Music Editing – Broadcast Short Form" Jason Tregoe Newman, Bryant J. Fuhrman, Andrew Ransom (for "The Great Fabricator") Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Miniseries & Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television Beef Nominated [46]
Best Actor – Miniseries, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television Steven Yeun Nominated
Best Actress – Miniseries, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television Ali Wong Nominated
Artios Awards Outstanding Achievement in Casting – Limited Series Charlene Lee, Claire Koonce, Danny Gordon Won [47]
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Ali Wong Nominated [48]
Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series Lee Sung Jin Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards Limited Series Joanna Calo, Bathsheba Doran, Jean Kyoung Frazier, Niko Gutierrez-Kovner, Lee Sung Jin, Alice Ju, Carrie Kemper, Mike Makowsky, Marie Hanhnhon Nguyen, Kevin Rosen, Alex Russell Won [49]
British Academy Television Awards Best International Programme Beef Nominated [50]

Explanatory notes edit

  1. ^ This award does not have a single winner, but recognizes multiple programs.

References edit

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