The Netflix series Beef, with a cast that includes Ali Wong and Steven Yeun, doesn’t hit the streaming giant until next week. Already, though, this new show about a road rage incident between two strangers that gets blown out of proportion has come storming out of the gate — earning such positive reviews following its preview for critics earlier this month at SXSW that Beef has already notched a perfect 100% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes.
A Hollywood Reporter review, for example, calls Beef a “feast of sharp comedy, wild thrills, and disarming empathy.”
In the series, which arrives on Netflix on April 6, Yeun portrays a failing contractor with a chip on his shoulder. He gets locked in a dispute with a woman played by Wong — a self-made entrepreneur with a picturesque life. “The increasing stakes of their feud,” Netflix explains, “unravel their lives and relationships in this darkly comedic and deeply moving series.”
Explains creator and showrunner Lee Sung Jin, in an interview included with Netflix’s press material, “The idea was loosely based on a road rage incident that actually happened to me. Someone went off on me, and for some reason that day, I did not use sound judgment and impulsively decided to follow this person.”
“I didn’t really have a set plan, I just wanted him to feel fear and let him know that it’s not okay to do that to people. But things went awry — certainly not like they do in the show — and what happened that afternoon ended up inspiring Beef. I thought there was a show there about two people who are very much stuck in their own perspectives and have a lot going on in their individual lives that this incident unravels.”
As noted above, meanwhile, this series comes from A24 — the company behind this year’s Oscar darling Everything, Everywhere, All At Once — which is one of many indications that this is a higher-tier Netflix series than the kind of show you’re probably more familiar with from the company.
The art featured in the title cards for Episodes 2 through 10, for example, comes from original pieces by artist David Choe (he plays Isaac in Beef). The art in the first episode is a Renaissance-era painting by Pieter Aertsen titled A Meat Stall with the Holy Family Giving Alms.
Then there are the episode titles, which all come from quotes by famous figures:
- “The Birds Don’t Sing, They Screech In Pain” (Werner Herzog)
- “The Rapture of Being Alive” (Joseph Campbell)
- “I Am a Cage” (Franz Kafka)
- “Just Not All At the Same Time” (Betty Freidan)
- “Such Inward Secret Creatures” (Iris Murdoch)
- “We Draw a Magic Circle” (Karin, from 1961’s Through a Glass Darkly)
- “I Am Inhibited by a Cry” (Sylvia Plath)
- “The Drama of Original Choice” (Simone de Beauvoir)
- “The Great Fabricator” (Simone Weil)
- “Figures of Light” (Carl Jung)
Jin has also explained that a kind of thematic through-line for the series came from a line in Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness: “To oppose something is to maintain it.”
Below, check out more images from the new Netflix series.