With 13 Emmy nominations and a huge increase in viewership that broke records for streamer Hulu, FX’s The Bear will get a third season, but it might not be for a while as the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA are currently on strike. As Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) remains busy at the picket line, that means there’s plenty of time to speculate on what could be next for the series.
The Bear creator Christopher Storer based the show on his own experience working at Mr. Beef, but he and his writers have also turned to Chicago restaurant industry veterans for input. That means these predictions are based both on plot threads the show has already laid down and the natural development process for an ambitious fine dining establishment.
Carmy Wrestles His Demons
Carmy Berzatto ends the season by breaking up with Claire (Molly Gordon) while locked in a walk-in fridge door and leading to a screaming fight with his recently enlightened manager Richie Jerimovich (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). Claire helped Carmy with his fragile mental health and process his anxiety until the point he began to view her as a distraction.
It would be great if Carmy built on that support he’s been getting by going to Al-Anon meetings and started going to therapy, providing an opportunity for the show to address the hospitality industry’s recent focus on mental health. Given that his team was able to get through the toughest part of service without him, Carmy could even face a crisis like Richie went through in Season 2 as he questions his purpose in the kitchen and life.
But given the relentless drive Carmy has shown combined with his particular anxieties about letting the people who depend on him down, he’s likely to become laser-focused on making the Bear successful. That might help the restaurant get through the make-or-break first few months, but it’s probably not healthy for Carmy or anyone else.
Carmy is still haunted by Joel McHale’s abuse in New York and has shown signs of repeating the cycle, one that his own mother may have ignited. His partner in the kitchen Sydney Adamu (Ayo Edebiri) has repeatedly had to get Carmy to calm down and treat everyone with respect, something that might be increasingly difficult as the pressure on him and the restaurant mounts.
Bring on the Beverages
Tasting menu restaurants often offer wine or cocktail pairings as a way to complement the dinner and increase profit margins, but while we’ve got a breakdown of many of the dishes on the Bear’s menu, it’s unclear who’s picked out the wine. Richie’s role, the general manager, often also serves as a sommelier or beverage director. Ever’s real-life co-owner, Michael Muser — whose style Richie emulates in Episode 7, also has a vast knowledge of wines beyond managerial responsibilities. For the finale, Richie wheels out a whole cart of nonalcoholic options for Sydney’s dad Emmanuel (Robert Townsend) during the Bear’s friends & family service. Unless Richie engages in some wacky hijinks and seeks sommelier certification, Carmy could take on the role given the skill he showed whipping up a custom version of Sprite in the episode “Fishes.”
But it’s equally possible the show could introduce a new supporting character in charge of designing cocktails as creative as Carmy and Sydney’s menu or a sommelier who has to educate the rest of the Bear’s staff in the world of wine. Any of these choices would be ripe with conflict and provide the chance to showcase how Chicago is not just a culinary hub but a leader in mixology, brewing, and distilling.
A Critical Splash
Given the high interest rates and the harsh terms of the loan used to open the restaurant, the Bear needs to be an immediate success. That is going to require building a lot of buzz through traditional food media, influencers, and local celebrities (in Chicago, the latter mostly means athletes or musicians).
Sydney’s brief brush with a restaurant critic went very well in Season 1, but not everyone is bound to love what she and Carmy have done to the place. Even if reviews are largely glowing, The Bear will need to come up with a policy regarding influencers who ask for free meals or cash to promote a restaurant on TikTok and Instagram. Simply taping a sign to a door, as Carmy did at the end of Season 1, isn’t the most modern way of marketing.
This could get pretty meta and circular, but Carmy obviously has a very compelling story and it wouldn’t be surprising for Chomp Chicago or another publication to want to interview him about his new venture — a discussion that could get into some thorny issues involving his family. And what happens if Carmy gets all the media attention and Sydney gets ignored? Not that Black women ever have to deal with those situations.
Media coverage helps shape the narrative about a restaurant, establishing not only why diners should visit but who is responsible for its success. The Bear is an ensemble show that demonstrates how many people are needed to make a restaurant work, but as the team pursues a Michelin star, there are bound to be an entirely new set of personality conflicts.
Carmy and Sydney are partners, but Carmy is the more established name with deeper industry contacts outside of Chicago. He’s previously retained a Michelin star and even the name of the Bear is based on his childhood dream. The contributions of Sydney and pastry chef Marcus Brooks (Lionel Boyce) are being overlooked due to all those factors, even before you add in the racial biases found in industry awards as memories fade about all the alleged reckonings after George Floyd’s murder. There’s more than just prestige on the line, as the plans for profit sharing for the restaurant seemed fuzzy at best, meaning pay could also become a key conflict point.
We can’t stop thinking about The Bear so hopefully, it won’t be too long until we can test how accurate these predictions are.