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Art & Culture

Netflix’s “Beef” Exposes Struggles of Success, Class, and the Art World

  • Craig Miller
  • |
  • June 12, 2023
  • |
  • 3 minute read
  • |
Netflix’s “Beef” Exposes Struggles of Success, Class, and the Art World
Key Takeaways
  • "Beef" explores the struggles of success, class, and the role of art in people's lives.
  • The art in the series serves as a catalyst for conflict between characters, as well as a tool for understanding one another.
  • The series incorporates various references to art and literature, adding depth and contemplation to the story.
  • The importance of connection is emphasized as the characters grapple with their own struggles and ultimately find common ground.
  • The show challenges viewers to consider the complexity of human emotions, the role of art in our lives, and the necessity of connection in times of struggle.

 

Netflix’s latest series, “Beef,” centers around a heated rivalry that begins with a road rage incident between Amy Lau Nakai (Ali Wong), a well-to-do plant business owner, and Danny Cho (Steven Yeun), an economically struggling contractor.

As the series unfolds, it delves into the complexities of success, class, and the role of art in their lives.

Art as an Expression of Class

The art in “Beef” initially blends into the background, featuring ceramics created by Amy’s husband, George (Joseph Cho).

However, as the story progresses, George’s sculptures become the focal point of the series.

An attempted theft of the ceramics by Danny’s cousin’s friends propels these abstract pieces to the forefront, highlighting the underlying tensions between the two main characters.

The series explores the difficulty of achieving success in the United States and how easily that success can crumble when faced with life’s challenges.

Artworks, often seen as exclusive and valuable objects, become the epicenter of anxieties surrounding stability and class.

Netflix’s latest series, “Beef,” centers around a heated rivalry that begins with a road rage incident between Amy Lau Nakai (Ali Wong), a well-to-do plant business owner, and Danny Cho (Steven Yeun), an economically struggling contractor.

Art, Connection, and Conflict

In “Beef,” art often serves as a catalyst for conflict between characters, as well as a tool for understanding one another.

A scene in which Amy and George argue during an art exhibition reveals the growing tension between them, with Amy accusing George of being obsessed with money.

Throughout the series, art provides little solace for the characters, who are preoccupied with trying to survive and maintain their status.

This struggle is reminiscent of the film “Parasite,” in which art becomes a weapon in a larger class struggle.

The Significance of Art and Literature in “Beef”

“Beef” incorporates various references to art and literature, with each episode title alluding to thought-provoking quotes or works.

Artist David Choe, who plays Danny’s cousin Isaac, contributes his paintings to the title cards of each episode.

These references add depth to the series, offering viewers a chance to contemplate the themes and emotions explored throughout the story.

However, as the show focuses on who truly gets to appreciate and love art, these glimpses of Choe’s work are quickly taken away.

Finding Connection in Adversity

Both Amy and Danny grapple with their own frustrations and personal struggles, but the series ultimately emphasizes the importance of connection.

Through their ongoing feud, the two characters are forced to look beyond themselves and, eventually, find common ground in their shared experiences.

“Beef” serves as a meditation on the pervasive sadness and anger that many people face, suggesting that true connection can only be found when individuals confront their own darkness and acknowledge the imperfections in themselves and others.

As Amy and Danny’s conflict evolves, the series challenges viewers to consider the complexity of human emotions, the role of art in our lives, and the necessity of connection in times of struggle.

 

Craig Miller

Craig Miller

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