The Bear (now streaming on Hulu) stars Jeremy Allen White as Carmy, a former fine dining chef who’s gone back to run his family’s frenetic, working-class Chicago beef joint. It’s a show that allows White to flex more muscles than Shameless did (even though White did a lot more heavy emotional lifting than he ever received credit for as Lip). It’s a damn good show with a delightful soundtrack and a first season that you can binge in one afternoon. And it’s also very, terribly funny how The Bear has launched a lust-inspired social media phenomenon that has very little to do with the show itself.
People have been looking at promotional images of the unmistakably intense Carmy and admitting (as comedian Sarah York did in a thread that you must read) that they hadn’t even watched the show but still branded Carmy as the quintessential “sexually competent dirtbag that only exists in a restaurant kitchen.” One Twitter user remarked upon how his roommate declared Carmy to be “[w]orth the yeast infection.” And that chatter continues, despite, how White stressed this fact GQ: “Carmy does not f*ck.”
During the course of this blunt (yet true for those people who’ve watched The Bear) proclamation, White added, “[T]here is zero romance, let alone sex, onscreen. Zilch.” Here’s more: “Carmy’s, like, the least sexual person. In playing him, I was aware that he had no room for love.” So, there you have it. Carmy didn’t have sex (at least onscreen) during the eight warp-speed episodes on the first season of The Bear. But… will Carmy have sex in Season 2, when it arrives? More importantly, should Carmy do the deed?
This is a real issue that the show’s writers must consider, either in a serious or darkly comedic way, so let’s talk about the Should first:
– YES: Carmy’s got some frustrations to work out: Dude has a lot of pent-up energy. He’s tightly wound and subsisting on cigarettes and angst, all while classically trained and desperately wanting to express his creativity through food. That didn’t (satisfyingly) happen at his family’s beef joint, where the beefs are not simply confined to meat. The tension — between Chefs, between Carmy and his cousin, between Carmy and himself during a rich inner life — boiled over at several points, and hell, Carmy couldn’t even count on suppliers to drop off the correct meat. “Just the delivery guy!” had to be the most annoying phrase to hear while plagued with an unwanted shipment of flesh, so maybe Carmy deserves to take a carnal vacation, if only for a brief interlude. He’d be a more relieved, happier Carmy, perhaps even with a spring in his step while striding through the streets of Chicago on the way to work.
– NO: A googly-eyed Carmy would be no good: I don’t think this would work out at all with the vibe of The Bear. All of the pounding should only go down in the kitchen for Carmy. He truly doesn’t have time to pause for sex, not even to swipe on Tinder. He’s got to mind the grind, deal with a cousin and his megaphone, respond to exploding toilets, and all the messes. If he’s distracted by his personal life, Carmy might lose some of his drive in the kitchen. Maybe sex could be his Kryptonite and the destroyer of tasty food. We can’t have that. Also, those sounds of water boiling to a steam would lose all context if Carmy’s not completely immersed and overwhelmed by his professional pressures and family issues. Sexual tension could ruin everything. And then there’s the danger of Carmy starting to crank out food on autopilot. Maybe even rely upon pre-freezing food and microwaving it. No. The restaurant’s now called The Bear, not Olive Garden.
– YES: However, Carmy could make a lady very happy: This one’s a given, actually. I mean, the way that Carmy operates in the kitchen with all that detail paid to, say, browning an onion makes me want to believe that Carmy would be as patient and attentive in the sack. Is that something we really want to see happen, though? Well sure. I’m curious enough, but I hope that he showered after the aforementioned exploding toilet and showing off his somewhat perverse fascination with the floor, including the time that he couldn’t resist tasting some donut.
– NO: Bye bye, kitchen creativity: When Carmy spoke during an Al-Anon meeting, we learned a lot about why he is the way he is. He speaks through the food, and that’s where he also finds his purpose. If he got all infatuated with a woman, or even if he had some one-night stands, I really think he’d lose his drive to work out his dead-brother issues. I don’t believe that the spaghetti-sauce money could fix everything; there’s still gotta be some lingering angst. And Carmy is chronically stressed, so very stressed, so I think that the act of copulation would be counterproductive in a sense. There’s be no stress relief, only distraction from what he’s viewed as his ultimate purpose in life.
VERDICT: For the “Should he?” question, I think that Carmy would be better off not having sex on the show, at least, not yet. Keep a little mystery going and let Carmy focus on those kitchen mishaps. After all that energy buildup and conflict in the kitchen and people projecting their fantasies on social media, actually putting a Carnal Carmy scene into the show might be too hot (or too cold!) for the audience to handle.
However, do I think that Carmy Will have sex?
– YES: That’s it. I think that the writers will have him go there, but I can only hope that this gets postponed until, say, the third season. Since this development seems inevitable (as fan service), I can only hope that there will not be a tribute to — and I’m sorry, I cannot resist this — Ebon Moss-Bachrach’s comparable Girls scene. And hopefully, the show will refrain from having Carmy hook up with a coworker (though admittedly restaurants are historically fertile grounds for inter-office relationships). We don’t need any lovers’ squabbles in the kitchen, although I admit that having Carmy accidentally referring to his partner as “Chef” wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Or have Joel McHale return in Carmy’s head, criticizing his every move. Yep, gotta make it weird, Chefs.
The Bear is streaming on Hulu.