So, I recently gave in and started watching “The Bear”
FX’s hit created by Christopher Storer which revolves around the character Carmen Berzatto (played by Jeremy Allen White), the culinary prodigy plucked from the world of fine dining. His life takes an unexpected turn as he finds himself back in his hometown, steering the ship at the beloved family sandwich shop (the renowned Original Beef of Chicagoland) - after a heart-wrenching loss in his family.
It is a show I didn’t expect to get into, but when I heard that Jamie Lee Curtis had manifested playing Donna Berzatto, Carmen’s mother, in Season 2... well, I knew I had to watch this series.
Not to mention that I had heard it won 10 Emmys in 2023 and had 4 Golden Globe wins in 2024. On imdb.com it states “The Bear” has had a total of 51 wins and 81 nominations worldwide.
So it’s pretty unanimous that this show's popularity is on the rise and that it hits some kind of relevance with society as a whole.
And what an impactful show it is! I was crying as “Season 1” of The Bear concluded. I found myself asking a question I think many people were asking: “Why is this show resonating with me and why am I crying?”
One of the topics that this show leans in on is how a family, family members, close friends, and co-workers deal with the death of a loved one with addiction issues.
I personally lost my brother to addiction in 2017. I found a real connection to Carmen and other family members, specifically Carmen’s sister Natalie “Sugar” Berzatto (played by Abby Elliott). It’s interesting to watch how “grief” creates these highs and lows.
How you can be laughing hysterically one minute and in a sheer panic the next.
How attending a Nar-Anon meeting can suddenly allow you to jolt yourself back into reality and have you feeling you are not alone.
How you can see the grief of others as they see the grief in you.
Looking back at the show, the cast including: Ayo Edebiri, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Lionel Boyce, Liza Colón-Zayas, Corey Hendrix, Edwin Lee Gibson, Matty Matheson and as mentioned Jeremy Allen White, Abby Elliott and the arrival of Jamie Lee Curtis in Season 2 is exceptional - I would dare to say magical! They all manage to display the mad state of restaurant life, loss, trauma, and how addiction can ravage friends, family, and co-workers together into a masterpiece. Each and every character feels compelling and real.
Still, even when they are so masterfully made, it is crazy how we can identify with characters on certain TV shows. It has been said that it is a common phenomenon that stems from various psychological and emotional factors, but that doesn’t make it any less baffling.
Like all of a sudden finding a character who feels like a mirror reflecting your own experiences and emotions. That instant connection, that relatability, is what makes our favorite characters feel like friends. It's like meeting someone who's been through the same highs and lows, making the fictional world on the screen feel a bit more like home.
We all love characters who navigate life's universal rollercoaster – love, loss, success, failure. It's almost like they're going through what we've been through, creating this shared experience that tugs at the heartstrings. I find myself cheering for their victories and sympathizing with their defeats as if they're an extension of my own journey.
And then there's the magic of escapism.
This might be one of my favorite reasons… granted, it can be very unhealthy.
TV shows transport us to different worlds, and in those worlds, we find characters who become our temporary guides. We identify with them as a way to take a break from our reality, to explore life through their lens for a while.
Emotions run deep when it comes to well-crafted characters. I mean they can make us laugh, cry, and sometimes, they just hit us right in the feels. It's that emotional resonance that turns a character on screen into a genuine, relatable companion.
I also believe that representation matters, not just in the real world but on screen too. When characters share our demographics, backgrounds, or identities, it's empowering. It's like finally seeing someone who looks like you or has walked a mile in your shoes, giving you a voice in the narrative.
I love that in “The Bear” the cast has such a diverse background. I think it’s one reason why it has become such a hit.
It seems that personal growth is a theme we can't get enough of. Characters evolving and transforming become beacons of inspiration for our own journey. Their struggles and triumphs become lessons for us to learn and grow alongside them.
And then there is the sense of catharsis that happens when characters face challenges head-on. We live vicariously through their victories, finding a bit of release and resolution in their stories. It's like getting a dose of emotional medicine – a comforting balm for our own struggles.
There is usually a social buzz around TV shows. I know that is the reason I found “The Bear” in the first place.
Whether we are dissecting plot twists with friends or debating character arcs over coffee, identifying with characters becomes a shared experience. It forms the basis for social connections, turning a solitary screen time into a communal celebration of storytelling.
So, as you immerse yourself in the storylines, rooting for characters who mirror life's highs and lows, remember you're not alone. There's a whole tribe of viewers out there feeling the same emotions, celebrating victories, and mourning losses alongside you.
Here's to the characters who turn our screens into warm, welcoming spaces – a place where we connect, belong, and find a piece of ourselves in the stories that unfold.
Season 3 of “The Bear” is happening!