FX's The Bear Launched Food TV Into The Mainstream In 2022

Food TV has long been defined by reality programs and cooking competitions, but this year, it got a memorable newcomer in the form of "The Bear" — the story of a young Chicago chef named Carmen Berzatto. In the FX series, Berzatto is forced to take over his family's restaurant, The Original Beef of Chicagoland, after the untimely death of his brother. Nobody really expected a scripted series to accurately capture the stressful nature of restaurant life quite like "The Bear" did; according to MovieWeb, the show has a way of leaving its viewers on edge.

On Twitter, one user pointed out how the theme of the show isn't only as it appears. "On its surface, a story about a chef who returns to take over his dead brother's family restaurant. Deep level? It's a story about trauma with a nutty, realistic face on the industry." But besides inspiring countless think pieces and impassioned social media posts, "The Bear" also proved to be a coup for Hulu and food-related programming at large. How did it do it?

Just how successful was The Bear?

"The Bear" snuck its way into success after airing on Hulu over the summer. Just how successful it was, however, remains a mystery to the public, per Decider. At the Television Critics Association's 2022 tour, FX chairman John Landgraf revealed the statistics about the show's viewership are practically under lock and key. "I can tell you that it's a really large number of people and likely makes 'The Bear' the most watched half-hour show we've ever had, and as I said, one of the most watched that Hulu's had," he said.

What made the eight-episode series so popular among food fans and non-foodies alike — enough to earn the green light for Season 2? If Reddit users have anything to say on the matter, its success is behind its realistic portrayal of restaurant jobs and profound character development. "It really gets the atmosphere and chaos a restaurant can have but also the familial bonds they have as well," one user said

Rolling Stone also suggests that "The Bear" was such a cultural moment because it was "a rare binge release" from FX and Hulu, enabling viewers to watch "that deliberately chaotic first episode," then find immediate satisfaction from the eventual resolution among the characters. And fans did exactly that: "Just binged it all. I think this might be my favorite show of the year," one Redditor said, while another wrote, "I just started, two episodes in, I am hooked." It's safe the say "The Bear" got people talking about food TV in a way they never had before.