The Bear Should Just Be A Weekly Series

The Bear, on the other hand, could not be more intent on delivering a self-contained, wholly satisfying treat in one episode that’s just one course of the larger meal. Like prestige heavy-hitters Mad Men, The Sopranos or Breaking Bad before it, even if it’s only a half-hour, the installments are rich enough to power discourse for a full seven days between drops, easily. Can you imagine what an event season 2’s Christmas flashback episode “Fishes”—which plays like someone hired the Safdies to direct a Hallmark movie—would’ve been if it rang off for a whole week? Or the brilliant “Forks,” the superior Richie-centric episode that follows? We’d talk about them with the same fervor and attention that we gave the Red Wedding or “The Suitcase.”

That’s the kind of unified viewing experience that turns popular shows into monocultural events; that leaves an indelible mark on the real-time watchers and hands out a heavy case of FOMO to anyone out of the loop. Sure, someone streaming Succession for the first time right now is still going to enjoy “Connor’s Wedding” when they get there, but remember what it was like to watch it in real time that Sunday night? That’s a feeling that’s been in short supply of late, and one that The Bear—while maybe not quite up to the high bar of the examples I’ve named—nevertheless absolutely has the range to deliver on.

But instead, the decision-makers at Hulu and/or FX (and maybe even Storer and Calo, who knows?) don’t seem concerned with delivering on that aspect of the prestige experience. Instead we’re once again going to have to enjoy this thing buffet-style, with viewers watching at their own pace and writers and editors like myself likely rushing through to keep up with the content arms race—and then your one friend who isn’t tapped in to TV like that will start texting the group chat about it in August.

In 2021, when The Bear was just a half-hour dramedy no one was quite sure of, hedging the bet with a splashy all-at-once drop made sense. Now, though? The show is an awards-season beast, with Jeremy Allen White and Ayo Edebiri minted into stars and Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Lionel Boyce not far behind them. Some heathens like the chaos that Netflix hath wrought; I and a strong, growing minority long for the essence of watercooler TV, even if half of us work from home now. It would’ve been an unreasonable dream five years ago, but with the rise of Apple TV+ and Disney+ originals, we’ve been reminded that week-to-week is still possible. And if there’s any show out right now that deserves to be enjoyed in the traditional sense, it’s this one. It’s how I felt last year, and it’s a sentiment that’s only become more widely shared going into Year 3—cries that have sadly fallen on deaf ears. Oh well, we’ll always have Season 4, perhaps. For now: See you all at the starting line tonight at 9PM.

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