Steven Yeun is back in a live-action leading TV role for the first time since The Walking Dead, as he joins Ali Wong in new Netflix dark comedy Beef. The pair play Danny and Amy, two strangers whose lives converge after they're involved in a road rage incident.
Over the course of the show's 10 episodes, the pair's lives become more and more entangled as their feud consumes their lives. The first reviews for the show are now out after the series premiered at SXSW Festival, and critics are full of praise for Yeun and Wong's performances.
"It’s a hilarious premise on its face, and the half-hours fly by as wild twists pile up. What’s less expected, however – and what really lingers once the dust has settled – is the series’ emphasis on the characters’ flawed humanity, and its disarming sense of empathy for their existential despair," says The Hollywood Reporter's Angie Han.
Time's Judy Berman writes: "Beef is the kind of series – a smart, sophisticated comedy with an ideal cast, artful direction, polished production design – that Netflix has mostly stopped making. It’s also the rare show that, like Everything [Everywhere All at Once], honors the differences in class, ethnicity, and personality that make each of its mostly Asian-American characters unique, rather than flattening them into some idealized exercise in 'positive representation.'"
"Beef remains eminently watchable (so long as your nerves can tolerate such needlessly risky behavior) and its riveting performances make the five-plus hours a worthy investment," says IndieWire's Ben Travers. "The limited series may jump the shark in its back half, but in doing so, it also mimics the contradictory emotions tied to its core conflict: Road rage can turn all of us into extreme versions of ourselves, and Beef plays out the shocking indignation felt so acutely from the first carhorn to that final outstretched finger."
Meanwhile, TV Guide's Allison Picurro goes as far as to compare Yeun's character to the antiheroes of Succession and The Bear, writing: "'The good stuff' boils down to Yeun and Wong. Yeun especially is exquisite here; we live in an incredible time for pathetic guys on TV, and his increasingly hapless Danny fits right in among all the Kendall Roys and Carmy Berzattos. He loves his family deeply but is too addicted to making bad decisions to ever really do right by them. Yeun is captivating as a man at the absolute end of his rope, and watching him tear into the material is a pleasure."
Beef arrives on Netflix on April 6. In the meantime, check out our picks of the other best new TV shows coming our way in 2023 and beyond.