The Bear is Not a #SydCarmy Love Story, You Weirdos

The Bear deserves better than this. The critically-acclaimed series about a Chicago restaurant and the (traumatized) chefs who cook there is about to drop its third season, and it seems like the only thing fans want to talk about is a wholly-imaginary romance between two of the show’s lead characters, Sydney (Ayo Edibiri) and Carmy (Jeremy Allen White). Fans are attempting to boil the show’s multi-layered drama into a treacly reduction by “shipping” the two main characters.

Listen, grow up: #SydCarmy is never going to happen. How many different ways do The Bear and the people involved with it have to tell you that this relationship is strictly platonic? The show has made it pretty clear that romantic love in general is on the back burner—Claire and Carmy’s season-two situationship was portrayed as a mere diversion from what was happening at the restaurant. And yet it’s gotten so bad that the show’s cast have repeatedly been forced to gently tell #SydCarmy shippers that they’re living in a fantasy world.

This quote from White couldn’t make it any more clear (emphasis mine.) “It’s crazy. It’s something that has happened entirely separate from the show that we’re making,” White told Eater this week. “Carmy and Sydney being romantically involved was not something we had discussed whatsoever. It feels like there’s a show happening outside of the show that we’re making. Maybe we’re just programmed from the TV and film that we’ve been watching for so long. If there’s a guy and a girl in a story, they’re gonna end up together.” Which is a polite way of saying that if you’re looking for a predictable guy-opens-restaurant-with-girl-guy-loses-girl-guy-gets-girl-back plot, there might be something more your speed on Netflix.

The Bear is certainly not the first show that’s had to deal with shippers. As White points out, when there’s a guy and a girl in a story, viewers automatically expect romance. The question of whether Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy would ever get together loomed so large for 30 Rock that the show created an entire episode that meta-textually explained why that was a bad idea. “Our relationship, however you define it,” Donaghy says, “is more interesting than some dating scenario, and obviously to ruin what we have with a tawdry yet expert sexual encounter would have been a mistake.” Even Elementary—a modern spin on Sherlock Holmes with a female Watson—faced critics who wanted to know “Why Can’t Sherlock and Watson Get Together?” C’mon. I promise it’s possible to enjoy a show that doesn’t recreate the Ross and Rachel plot line.

I’ll accept many takes about The Bear: it’s a painfully realistic look at working in a kitchen, maybe it’s a menswear show, and it’s absolutely a show about trauma. But I draw the line at stories that suggest “The Bear Is a Love Story” and then read the show as if it’s been covertly building this romance all along. (Sorry, Heifetz—I love your podcasts.)

The Bear may suffer from consumers’ growing expectation that shows and celebrities are constantly leading us like Hansel and Gretel. Keeping up with Taylor Swift requires a doctorate in numerology and Marvel programming is littered with hints and Easter eggs that require constant decoding. It’s no wonder viewers of The Bear see clues of a #SydCarmy plotline to come in every gesture or panic attack relaxation technique.

None of this is to say The Bear doesn’t understand romance. There is genuine love between many of the characters on the show—Sydney making a chip-sprinkled omelet for a pregnant Natalie was a really tender depiction of caring for someone through food. But The Bear’s romances are primarily explored between the characters and their craft. Season two leaned heavily into this, as Marcus flew to Copenhagen to stage for a Noma-like restaurant and Cousin Richie fell in love with service during his capsule episode “Forks.” This is why Carmy’s true destiny in The Bear probably isn’t destined to be with Claire or Sydney—he says so himself, while locked in a freezer at the end of the second season. Plus, if we’re going to ship two people on The Bear it should really be Ebon-Moss Bachrach and Matty Matheson. This was a steamy kiss.

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