Netflix's Beef, a comedy-drama which charts the feud between two strangers following a road rage incident, deals in extremes – Amy and Danny's sparring escalates far beyond what most people will recognise – but is rooted in an all too common and corrosive reality: the inability to communicate how we're really feeling.


Both self-made entrepreneur Amy (Ali Wong) and contractor Danny (Steven Yeun) wear taunt, painted smiles during their interactions with the world. When their masks slip momentarily – a lip quiver here, a wrinkled brow there – and they're asked if they're ok, the answer is always the same: "Good! Everything's good!!"

Note the upward inflection, the smile swiftly reappearing, like it had always been there.

That brush-it-under-the-carpet mentality is addressed during a conversation between Amy and her mother-in-law Fumi, who is a proponent of such an approach herself.

"The moment you begin to worry, the moment you acknowledge the worry, you solidify it into existence, which is why we chose to ignore," she says of the financial instability within her own marriage.

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"All you have is perception."

But that so-called guidance hasn't worked out for Fumi (Patti Yasutake) – she receives a call from her accountant who is worried about her depleting finances – and it's certainly not doing Amy and Danny any favours.

That inability to confront the anxieties and fears which took hold during their respective childhoods – Amy is haunted by her fear of abandonment, while Danny is consumed by the weight of expectation as his parents' first-born – has allowed a dangerous mindset to take hold, with the pair happy to blow up their lives without a second thought.

Over time, those niggling concerns have fattened, tumour-like, infecting every facet of their lives and manifesting as white hot rage when there's simply no where left for their emotions to go.

And as Beef illustrates, it's both an incredibly lonely space to exist in and entirely unsustainable.

Danny and Amy standing opposite one another at a gathering, the atmosphere is tense
Beef. Netflix

Beef shares some connective tissue with HBO's Barry. The dark comedy, which was created by and stars comedian Bill Hader, revolves around a former marine turned hitman who desperately tries to begin anew, distancing himself from the horrors he's witnessed and personally carried out by taking up acting classes. But refusing to engage with his emotional trauma through distraction techniques does nothing to quiet the storm raging within, which not only impacts Barry himself, but those around him, the collateral damage extensive.

While Amy and Danny's circumstances are wildly different from Barry's, their bad decisions, a symptom of their inner unspoken turmoil, also harm those around them. Amy's marriage to George (Joseph Lee) is in a critical condition, and that's a source of constant concern for their young daughter June (Remy Holt), who also finds herself in physical danger as a result of Amy's actions.

Then there's Danny's strained relationship with his brother Paul (Young Mazino). Over the years, the gulf between them has widened substantially and continues apace as Danny's conflict with Amy intensifies. As the series draws to a close, it's unclear if they'll ever be able to claw themselves back to a place where they can be truly honest with one another.

Beef is a fine piece of entertainment, with so much to enjoy, from writing that keeps viewers firmly on their toes to top tier performances from Wong and Yeun to putting Hoobastank's The Reason back on the map. But it's also providing a public service.

It wants to stop running away from your problems, to get comfortable feeling uncomfortable as you work through what's really bubbling away beneath the surface. Don't do as Amy and Danny do. Park your beef and talk.

Read more: Beef creator explains real-life incident that inspired Netflix series

Beef is available to stream on Netflix. Sign up for Netflix from £4.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.

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