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Series / Beef

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"There's always fucking something."

"Why is it so hard for us to be happy?"

Beef is a dark comedy series created by Lee Sung Jin (Undone, Tuca & Bertie) for A24. The ten-episode series began streaming on Netflix on April 6, 2023.

The show is about two strangers — struggling contractor Danny Cho (Steven Yeun) and successful but unfulfilled businesswoman Amy Lau (Ali Wong) — who share an incident of road rage with each other. Neither are willing to let the event go, and the conflict eventually spirals into a feud that threatens their individual personal lives.

The supporting cast includes Joseph Lee, David Choe, Patti Yasutake, Ashley Park, Maria Bello, and Justin H. Min.

Originally billed as a miniseries, a second season is in the works, making it an Anthology Series. The second season will focus on two feuding couples - one played by Charles Melton and Cailee Spaeny, the other by Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway.

Previews: Official Trailer


  • Accidental Kidnapping: Danny accidentally knocks George out and jumps into his car and drives away. He realizes too late that George's daughter June and her dog have climbed into his backseat. George had already called the police, so Danny can't take her back lest he be arrested.
  • Aesop: "Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves." Revenge is stupid and can spiral into something that will harm those you love. Most of the time, it's best to let things go and leave well enough alone.
  • Arc Words: "There's always something": First as an expression of exasperation and frustration. And later reframed by Jordan, who feels like that despite life's never-ending chaos, there is always something good to hold onto.
  • Amazing Freaking Grace: Episode 7 opens with a Chris Tomlin-inspired rendition of it sung by Danny, who has now become the praise leader at the church he scammed.
  • Animal Motifs: Crows keep coming up throughout, from Bobby and Michael discussing how crows were allegedly trained to hate Dick Cheney to Isaac sharing a story of Danny nursing a wounded crow back to health. The surreal opening of Episode 10 features two crows talking to each other. There's a Chinese superstition that hearing the call of a crow while you're talking is a bad omen for whatever you're talking about, especially if it's a business deal.
  • Awful Wedded Life:
    • Amy and George are married and seemingly happy on the surface, but problems quickly arise and push them to enter counseling. She's not satisfied with the sex and his inability to relate to her depression, and he feels that she's emotionally distant due to her focus on her business (and, unbeknownst to him, her feud with Danny). George is also attracted to Amy's assistant Mia and claims a deep connection with her, and Amy eventually has sex with Danny's brother, Paul. While their relationship seems to improve once the Forsters deal is done, the later revelations of their infidelity and the sheer scale of Amy's dishonesty leads him to ask for a divorce and demand sole custody of their daughter.
    • Veronica and Edwin begin to go through a rough patch since Veronica never got over Danny.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
    • Danny and Paul's relationship is greatly strained, but Danny is right to be concerned about Paul's future and Paul is genuinely worried about Danny's depression. The two are also able to make-up after an incident in Vegas, where the two show off each other's basketball moves in a moment of pure brotherly love. Danny is also relieved to find out that Paul survived being shot at by the police, even if he never wants to speak to him again.
    • While Amy and Paul's affair ends poorly, the news of Paul's possible death gets her to stop arguing with Danny when they're lost in the LA wilderness. She's also relieved to hear that Paul survived the events at Jordan's home.
    • Despite George wanting a divorce with Amy and sole custody of June after he learns of the extent of her feud with Danny, he does become worried enough about her after the events of the penultimate episode that he uses the 'Find My Phone'' app to find her and shoots Danny when he thinks he's threatening her.
  • Big Fancy House:
    • Amy, whom Danny describes as a "rich bitch from Calabasas", has a large, spacious modern home. Their vacation house also counts as this too.
    • Amy's own house is dwarfed by the home of billionaire Jordan, an isolated, spacious mansion on an isolated area of Los Angeles County, filled with expensive art, furniture, and cultural artifacts. It also has an advanced security system and a panic room with a very powerful door.
    • The canyon house that Danny finally builds for his parents is also this from what we see of it before it burns down due to his own faulty wiring.
    • Edwin and Veronica's clean middle-class home also stands in sharp contrast to Danny's more rough-and-tumble apartment.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Heavily leaning towards bitter. A shared near death experience allows Danny and Amy to squash their beef, but only after it costs both of them their professional lives, their personal relationships, their physical health, and most likely their public image to the extent that all they have is each other.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Danny tells two false accounts regarding the fateful rage road incident with Amy. When telling Paul, he admits to chasing her down but leaves out the part where he freaked out when it looked like Amy was going to run him over. When telling the story to a client, he claims that he "played it cool", which is far from the truth.
    • After Danny pees on her bathroom floor, Amy leaves a Yelp review telling about the incident. Danny lies about having never met Amy and asks Yelp to take the review down.
  • Book Ends: Amy escalates what would have been only an annoying mishap in a parking lot by stopping to flip off Danny while obnoxiously honking her car horn. The series ends with Amy flipping off a critically injured Danny again, albeit with sadness and empathy.
  • Brutal Honesty: Fumi admits that George lacks any of the artistic ability his father had.
  • Casting Gag: In Tuca & Bertie, Ali Wong and Steven Yeun voice Bertie and Speckle, two birds who are in a stable, happy relationship. Here, they play two strangers who become obsessed with destroying each other thanks to a road rage incident.
  • Catfishing: Played with. Amy unintentionally catfishes Paul by pretending to be a hot girl (one of her employees) on Instagram. Despite being initially confused and annoyed with Paul, she begins to genuinely appreciate his willingness to listen to her. It's so obvious that every single character immediately notes that "Kayla" is a catfish, but he ignores them and seeks her out in person. While Amy apologies for the ruse, he doesn't care when he discovers who "Kayla" really is, if anything he's more attracted to Amy.
  • Central Theme: Poor Communication Kills. Every single interpersonal relationship in this show is tainted by lies: someone tells a falsehood to keep up appearances or manipulate the other character. In many cases, the characters have structured their lives around these lies. There is no relationship in which both parties are able to Be Yourself. (The sole possible exception is six-year-old Junie, who is too young to engage in this sort of artifice... though, as the show makes clear, she's learning.) Not coincidentally, every single interpersonal relationship in this show (and this time we are including poor Junie) is superficial and alienated, with people engaging in the niceties but unable to connect with each other on any level. The one exception is, of course, Amy and Danny. While the only thing they're expressing is that they are Blinded by Rage, it's also the only genuine relationship, where both parties are honest with each other about themselves, on the show.
  • Cerebus Call-Back: The first episode begins with Danny trying to return some hibachi grills and being forced to keep them due to losing the receipts. We later see him using the grills in a Bungled Suicide attempt. As the cashier mentions that Danny has bought and returned the hibachi grills three times, this suggests he had bought them twice before for the purpose of killing himself but either couldn't go through with it those times either or failed to do it properly.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A literal example with Amy's gun.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Amy sees that there's pee on her floor, and lets out:
    Amy: Bitch-ass handyman pissing on my fucking hardwood floor? This is European oak, motherf--
  • Defacement Insult: In revenge, Amy paints insults like "I AM POOR" and "I'M A BITCH" on Danny's truck.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Near the end of finale, after spending two nights and a day at the desert and nearly dying of berry poisoning, it seems like the two protagonists are finally getting along. As they walk towards safety, George shows up, mistakes Danny giving a resting Amy support as an attack, and shoots him. The final scene is in a hospital room with no guarantee of survival.
  • Drugs Are Good: In the finale, Danny and Amy are stranded in the California wilderness and take some hallucinogenic berries. They start seeing things and finally begin to relate to one another.
    • Amy regularly smoked weed before having June.
    • George also off-handedly mentions microdosing to enhance his creativity.
    • Jordan prefers mushrooms of the "magic" variety.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Paul's not the smartest guy in the world, but he seems to be the more emotionally intelligent brother, assessing Danny as a dude who who has depression and not handling it well, which dooms their chances of maintaining a healthy brotherly relationship, which is hard to argue with.
    Paul: I think [Danny's] depressed...he regularly drives an hour and a half to what he thinks is the best Burger King, just to eat four original chicken sandwiches, alone.
  • Escalating War: The series starts with a fairly mundane altercation in a store parking lot and escalates into a full blown road rage incident. Over the ensuing series, the two parties involved partake in increasingly elaborate ways of antagonising each other: from petty swipes like Danny peeing on Amy's bathroom floor and Amy vandalizing Danny's car to a catastrophic home invasion that ends in Amy's divorce and being forbidden from contacting June, Paul cutting off Danny, Isaac in prison likely for life, and both Jordan and Michael dead.
  • Enemy Mine: Danny and Amy are fighting with each other over their road rage. When someone complains about them taking up two parking spaces just to fight, they both instantly turn and yell at him in tandem.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Danny may be a petty, vindictive man who goes to increasingly ludicrous ways to get back at Amy, but he staunchly refuses to put Amy's daughter June in danger in any way. Early in the show, he aborts a plan to burn down Amy's car when he realizes June is inside it, and when he accidentally kidnaps her near the end of the series, he does his damndest to make sure she's safe and happy given the circumstances.
  • Episode Title Card: A memorable example, with each featuring the episode title imposed over mostly original paintings by Isaac's actor David Choe.
  • 555: Paul's phone number is (818)-144-6765, which goes nowhere in real life because it has 1, the country code for the NANP region and the number that long distance calls begin with, as its first digit.
  • Foil:
    • The Cho brothers.
      • Despite Paul's ignorance and laziness, he genuinely wanted to pursue college after high school, which Danny finds threatening. He also appears to better understand people than Danny, as seen with his growing relationship with Amy during the series. He also recognizes that aspects about Danny that Danny does not, such as Danny's depression and how his behavior strains the relationship between the two. Like Danny, he also desires to break the cycle of intergenerational trauma he and Danny are faced with, even if it means ultimately cutting Danny out of his life. Danny on the other hand, would figuratively hamstring Paul by throwing out his college admissions, ensuring that Paul would be dependant on him.
      • Both want more from their lives but pursue it in different ways. Danny collaborates with their recently released cousin and later frames him for the road rage incident and stealing Isaac's money behind his back. When Paul becomes more motivated, he chooses more positive avenues such as seeking stable employment, begins cleaning up after himself, dressing better, and wants to expand the family construction business beyond what Danny has already done.
    • Edwin and Danny: Edwin is also Korean-American, married to Veronica (Danny's ex), has a family, is the successful leader of a church, lives in a nice house, and only resorts to minor petty pranks as revenge. Danny, however, lives in a small, cluttered apartment with his financially dependant younger brother who he has a strained relationship with, is single for most of the series out of the sentiment that he is not in the position to have a family despite wanting one, has a struggling contracting business due to his ineptitude as one, and ruins any chance of having what Edwin has due to his inability to let of go his pride and anger. Danny, at the very least, manages to be a charismatic church leader and a better basketball player.
  • Flipping the Bird:
    • The poster is structured with two fists with middle fingers raised at each other, with said middle fingers drawn to look like Danny and Amy. This fits the feud theme of the show.
    • Amy is nearly hit by Danny, drives a bit, then honks her horn and sticks her middle finger out the window. This pisses him off so much that he starts chasing her.
    • When Amy and Danny finally resolve their conflict, she sadly/fondly flips him the bird while he lies unconscious on a ventilator.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Despite his best efforts, Danny is not the most adept "contractor" as seen from his reviews on Yelp and his struggling business. This really comes to a head when the home he builds for his parents burns down to due to faulty wiring.
    • Amy jokes that she likes tying George's tie since it'll make him dependent on her and he can't leave her, which later happens anyways.
    • How does June end up in Danny's truck? It's because Danny told her he always has a bag of Skittles in his truck.
    • Michael chastises Bobby for having his gun on him at a church, bringing up the Dick Cheney shooting his friend in the face. Guess how he's killed during the show's climax?
    • Jordan's panic room is mentioned early on. It does the opposite of what she had it built for.
    • Danny mentions having to be delicate in his criticisms of Paul because he doesn't want to "lose him forever".
  • Gaslighting: Danny's harassment of Paul for his laziness and perceived incompetence. Paul makes more than enough money to support an expensive gaming habit until Danny steals the passwords to his crypto trade accounts and, having no idea how cryptocurrency works, completely screws himself by attempting to spend it while it's still being traded, and Paul was motivated to go to college until Danny sabotaged his chances at admission. When Amy says Danny has been holding Paul back, she has no idea how right she is.
  • Gilligan Cut: Utilized in the trailer when Jordan compliments Amy on how zen she is. Immediate cut to Amy holding a gun to her phone and screaming like a maniac.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: Both Danny and Amy have their sympathetic moments but both are also willing to engage in Disproportionate Retribution for the initial altercation.
  • Happy Marriage Charade: To their peers, George and Amy are a loving, well-off, and artistic suburban couple. However, their marriage is crumbling: George doesn't physically or emotionally fulfill Amy and they both become attracted to other people over the course of the series.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: In the finale, Naomi closes the panic button room doors too early, resulting in Jordan getting bisected by them.
  • Hypocritical Humor: During their road rage incident, Danny laughs at Amy for running over a bush in someone's yard. This is right after he cuts through the same yard in his old Tacoma.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Titles: Each episode is titled for an existential quote by an author. For example, "The Birds Don't Sing, They Screech in Pain" alludes to something said by Werner Herzog:
    Herzog: The trees are in misery, and the birds are in misery. I don't think they sing. They just screech in pain… Taking a close look at what's around us, there is some sort of harmony: It's the harmony of overwhelming and collective murder.
  • Imaginary Enemy: Episode 8 features one that Amy created in her childhood, a pale hook-nosed witch who represents all of the secrets that Amy fears would cost her love from others if they were ever revealed. The witch appears in numerous flashbacks from throughout her life.
  • Immigrant Parents: Both Danny and Amy experienced some difficulties growing up as second-generation Asian-Americans:
    • Danny's need to always keep Paul underfoot stems from his parents having difficulty for both of them. He also feels like he has to successfully provide them with a home as the eldest son.
    • Amy's emotional repression and tendency to ignore her problems until they spill over comes from being estranged from her parents and their somewhat tumultuous marriage.
  • It Began with a Twist of Fate: The feud between Danny and Amy that led to numerous events such as Amy's divorce, Paul cutting Danny out of his life, Isaac being sent to prison, and Jordan and Michael's deaths, was due to a road rage incident between the two, which itself was launched by Danny backing his pickup truck out of a parking space without looking to make sure if it was clear.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Averted. All the main characters went or applied to more realistically attainable universities than the Ivy League (or their West Coast analogues), lending the series more credibility and local flavor. Amy went to UC Santa Barbaranote  and Naomi went to Chico State. Paul applies to UC Irvine (where Danny's ex Veronica went and met her husband Edwin), Merced, Davis, and Santa Cruz.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Amy correctly calls out Danny for holding back Paul and being the source of his immaturity.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Amy and Danny dysfunctionally each have one in June and Paul respectively. Deconstructed as both have neither at the end of the series.
    • Amy felt that having June would finally fulfill some nebulous, emotional void she's had since adolescence. She tells June that shortly after her birth was one of the few moments in her life that Amy was truly at peace. Amy deals with the chaos of her life for June's benefit, not realizing it actually drives it away from her. Over the series, it's shown she is not nearly as good of a caretaker for June as George, culminating in George seeking sole custody of June after asking for a divorce. Although it is difficult for her to admit, she realizes that having a child would not be the "missing piece" she sought.
    • Danny has looked after Paul since childhood, acting as a surrogate parent for him and actively placing the demands of taking care of Paul well into adulthood to his own detriment. Despite this, Paul is shown to be more perceptive than his older brother and aspires to also break out of their shared intergenerational trauma as well wanting to go to college at one point. Danny in reality, is greatly insecure of Paul, throwing away Paul's college admission applications, ensuring that he and Paul will not only stay together but also that Paul will never succeed him. Danny eventually does come to terms with this, urging Paul to leave Jordan's house when the police arrive, admitting he has been holding Paul back all his life and what happened to Paul's college applications. After hearing this, Paul cuts Danny out of his life
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Isaac, Bobby, and Michael don Dick Cheney masks to rob Jordan's house.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Naomi starts investigating the road rage incident and figures out that Amy and Danny are involved... but she jumps to the conclusion that Amy cheated on George with Danny and it ended badly. Amy is so shocked by the accusation that she laughs in Naomi's face, offending the latter further.
  • Nice Mean And In Between:
    • The three Cho men who live in California. The somewhat dim but genuinely kind Paul is nice, the violent but charming criminal Isaac is mean, and Danny is in-between.
    • Amy's family. The passive but sweet George is nice, his bitter and unappeasable mother Fumi is mean (though she has a Pet the Dog moment late in the season), and Amy is in-between.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • Paul gives one to Amy about she and Danny's similarities (specifically how hard they work and how depressed they are), though he doesn't know about the truth of their feud.
    • The entire final episode is filled with these as Danny and Amy go back and forth with talking about their lives and their voices merge into one as they swap stories.
  • Outclassed at the Gym: In the second episode, Danny strains trying to benchpress a certain weight. His younger brother Paul gets under it and starts lifting it with no problem.
  • Race Fetish: Played with. Danny has been taught by his parents that to settle down, he must choose a Christian, Korean woman, and he often makes demeaning remarks about white women as vapid or even just as not worthy of marriage to him and his brother. Privately though, he has a fetish for white women and looks up AMWF ("Asian Male White Female") porn online and even jerks off to a photo of Amy when he thought she was a white girl named Kayla.
  • Rule of Three: Three times, Danny goes to George and Amy's house and lies about wanting to use the bathroom. The first time, he pees on the bathroom floor. The second time, he uses the opportunity to call off the heist he and his friends were planning to pull on the house. The third time, he goes there to plant evidence that will frame Amy for the house fire.
  • Running Gag: Skittles.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Danny is mildly surprised to learn the person he got into a road rage incident with is a woman. While he doesn't take physical revenge on her like he was implying he would, he still doesn't drop his grudge against her.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Most of the characters' efforts end up being All for Nothing, in going with the show's commentary on the nature of revenge. However, the one goal amongst the show's cast that was arguably truly selfless—Danny's quest to build his family a house—ends up failing not because of anything to do with the feud. While Danny initially suspects Amy or even Edwin of committing arson, he learns fairly quickly that the fire had nothing to do with the tangled plot of the show and was merely the result of his own incompetence as a builder.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Paul is so enamored with "Kayla" that he seeks her out only to find it's really Amy. When she insecurely confesses to what happened to the point of even apologizing to Paul, he does this.
  • Sibling Triangle: Over the course of the timeskip, Naomi left her husband for his sister, Jordan.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • The first episode ends with "The Reason", a rock love song by Hoobastank that emphasizes someone atoning for their past mistakes and becoming a better person. This plays right after Danny pissed all over Amy's bathroom floors and she shouts expletives while chasing him as he makes his getaway, driving off with smug, unrepentant satisfaction that he just got away with vandalizing someone who slighted him.
    • Episode 9 uses "All is Full of Love" by Björk, a very gentle ambient piece about finding profound peace and love in the world, to score Danny and Amy's post break-in car chase, the peak of their blind hatred for one another.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Amy is able to find Danny using the same methods he used to track her down (memorizing his license plate number and running it through a search engine that allows her to learn his name, address and business). She also leaves Yelp reviews that damage his business's reputation.
  • Tap on the Head: Danny knocks George's head on the wall and the latter collapses, but he wakes up not long after apparently no worse for wear.
  • Time Skip: Episode 7 is set eight months after episode 6 and changes the status quo of the characters: Danny has taken advantage of Isaac's arrest to steal his illegal cash and build his parents a house while Amy has gotten very rich by selling her company and is on better terms with George. That said, their petty feud gets in the way of these positive developments when they reunite.
  • Thicker Than Water: Played straight with Isaac's reasoning for helping Danny out. It's also what Danny uses to get Paul to apologize to Isaac. However, it's generally deconstructed multiple times over the series:
    • While Isaac is a shady character, he does attempt to help out Danny with his plans due to being cousins. Danny falsely accuses Isaac of being responsible for the road rage incident, landing him Isaac and in jail and stealing his money in the meantime. As a result, Isaac wants revenge on Danny.
    • Danny holds himself up as Paul's sole caretaker. He also throws out his brother's college applications, ensuring Paul's dependency on him and that he will not outshine him. Danny later comes to terms with how he holds back Paul, confessing what he did and encouraging Paul to leave Jordan's house without him. Paul, understandably upset, cuts Danny out of his life.
    • Amy is revealed to be estranged from her parents, having not contacted them in years.
    • After Amy's out-of-control grudge with Danny culminates with June being kidnapped, George files for sole custody of her as part of their divorce.
  • Unbroken Vigil: The series ends with Amy waiting by Danny's bedside after he is shot by George. She eventually climbs in bed to hold him until he recovers enough to put his arm around her.
  • Vehicle-Based Characterization: The series establishes the respective financial situations of Danny and Amy in part with the cars they drive during their near-collision. Struggling blue-collar contractor Danny has a beat-up truck; posh career woman Amy has a Mercedes-Benz SUV.
  • Villain Protagonist: Both main characters are introduced Blinded by Rage, and while they have their positive points, each has made a number of poor decisions in the past and continues to make them as the show continues. The show essentially chronicles their parallel Redemption Arcs and just how much blood and chaos those arcs require.
  • Viva Las Vegas!: The characters go to Vegas in episode 4. Amy goes there for a work conference and Paul steals Danny's truck to follow her. Danny and Isaac promptly go as well to get the truck back, since it contains (probably illegal) goods that Isaac needs to sell. The action is primarily limited to Amy's swanky hotel (where Danny and Isaac consider gambling and eating from the buffet).
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot:
    • Isaac is fully shown vomiting after chasing Paul through a stairwell to the top floor of Vegas hotel.
    • Michael vomits in full view of the camera after witnessing Jordan being slowly bisected by her own panic room door.
    • Amy and Danny likewise throw up onscreen after eating the "elderberries".
  • Wham Line:
    • Towards the end of Episode 7, Amy finds out through the house camera that Paul is at her house and has a message for George:
    Paul: Hello? Are you George? ... I fucked your wife.
    • At the end of Episode 8, after Danny accidentally knocks George out and is flustered, trying to leave in a panic in his truck, he hears a familiar voice in the back:
    June: Where are we going?
    • In episode 8, the cause of the house fire is revealed.
    Investigator: We found faulty wiring. There's a 30-amp breaker in the house but there's 14-gauge wiring all over. An absolute moron installed this.
    • And Danny, unable to come to terms with this finding, lies to Paul about the actual cause.
    Danny: (To Paul): It was arson, man.
  • Wham Shot:
    • In Episode 7 after picking up his parents and brother, in celebration for the house he's managed to get them, Danny drives and is aghast to see the house now on fire.
    • Episode 9 ends with Danny and Amy getting into another road rage car chase, until they both get distracted by Danny Flipping the Bird and crash down the cliff.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Both Danny and Amy are protective of their respective Living Emotional Crutches. What's surprising is that they're also protective of each other's:
    • When Danny accidentally kidnaps June (It Makes Sense in Context), he spends the entire next episode guaranteeing her safety instead of exploiting her in pursuit of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    • When Amy learns, during the final episode, that something might have happened to Paul, she is genuinely aghast. She knows that Paul is the brother of her arch-nemesis — and, by now, has reason to dislike Paul personally — but nonetheless tries to remind Danny that Paul might have realistically escaped danger unscathed.