Love FX’s The Bear? Watch these 5 TV shows that are just like it

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the bear season 2.jpg
the bear season 2.jpg

The Bear, one of the best shows on Hulu, is a frenetic, fast-paced series, which some might find surprising. How hectic can the back kitchen of a little sandwich shop in a small town even be anyway? As it turns out, pretty chaotic.

The FX series tells the story of young chef Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White), who returns to his hometown to run his family’s Italian beef sandwich shop following his brother’s death. While Carmy is formally trained and has worked his way up to becoming an award-winning chef de cuisine in New York, his life is upended when his brother leaves the restaurant to him. He’s met with pushback upon his return, but Carmy is determined to earn the respect of his opinionated and stubborn staff and use his fine dining skills to turn this struggling sandwich shop into one that respects its history while also serving elevating dishes.

With the second season now available to stream, chances are you blew through all 10 episodes in one sitting. What can you watch next? There are a few shows, albeit of differing types, that will satiate your appetite for more chaotic energy and mouth-watering cuisine.

Kitchen Nightmares

Chef Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen of a restaurant with a couple on Kitchen Nightmares.

While Kitchen Nightmares falls into the realm of reality TV, the parallels between the two shows are too juicy not to want to dive into this classic show after watching The Bear. In every episode, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay visits a different struggling restaurant from across America. There, he discovers a myriad of issues, from inexperienced (or uncaring) chefs to family discord, poor management, dated designs, disorganization, and sometimes, even worse.

Seeing Ramsay walk into each respective restaurant, try the food, and examine the kitchens, sometimes with horror and disgust in his eyes, is reminiscent of when Carmy first walked into his brother’s sandwich shop. He witnessed the mess it had become in more ways than one. After being off the air since 2014, a Kitchen Nightmares revival is reportedly now in the works.

Stream Kitchen Nightmares on Hulu and stream Kitchen Nightmares on Peacock.

Chef’s Table

A side profile of Chef Grant Achatz staring into space in a scene from Chef's Table.
Peter Sorel / Netflix

Filled with episodes of stories just like Carmy’s, small-town men and women with a passion for cooking have grown to become massive talents and influences in the culinary world. Chef’s Table peels back the curtain to dive into the life stories and minds of these chefs and how they developed through their journeys. Each episode has heart, with chefs telling particularly harrowing stories about their early lives and/or careers, much like Carmy’s. (Recommended episode: season 2, episode 1 about Grant Achatz, who got his start working in his parents’ restaurant, enrolled in the culinary institute in New York, and battled cancer that led to a partial removal of his tongue and a temporary loss of his sense of taste.)

While Chef’s Table is not as dramatic nor loud and combative as The Bear, the show will appeal to those who were salivating over (and instantly trying to replicate) the family spaghetti recipe after watching “that” episode. But most important, it portrays fine dining chefs as real people with hopes, dreams, and challenges to endure along the way.

Stream Chef’s Table on Netflix.

Itaewon Class

Three man stand in a warehouse looking place in a scene from Itaewon Class.

A South Korean series based on the webtoon of the same name, lead character Park Seo-ro-yi (Park Seo-joon) in Itaewon Class has a similarly troubled life to Carmy’s, getting into fights in school and eventually being sent to prison. Once he gets out, Park is determined to take down the CEO of the large food company, Jangga Group, whose son’s reckless driving killed his father. So, he opens a rival bar/restaurant called DanBam.

Park has big dreams, aspiring to turn his little restaurant into a massive franchise that will eventually eclipse Janggo Group. Through the series, Park deals with troubled friends and a love interest all while trying to realize his dream.

Stream Itaewon Class on Netflix.

This Is Going to Hurt

Two doctors look face to face in the hallway of a hospital in a scene from This Is Going To Hurt.

The story in This Is Going To Hurt is set in a hospital and not a restaurant. But the fast-paced, urgent nature of the work they do is reminiscent of Carmy’s dealings in the kitchen in The Bear. The British medical show sways more to comedy than drama, but the underlying theme is the same: working in a stressful environment can have serious effects on your personal and emotional well-being.

The show is praised for its honest depiction of the profession, particularly in obstetrics and gynecology, much like The Bear is for its portrayal of what it really looks like in a busy, sometimes disorganized kitchen. The show also sheds light on how junior doctors don’t quite get the credit they deserve, much like junior chefs and other back kitchen staff on The Bear feel slighted and undervalued at times.

Stream This Is Going To Hurt on AMC+.

Gentefied

Two men in the back kitchen of a food truck in a scene from Gentified.

Touching on a similar story along with comparable storylines about familial obligation, the threat of small-town gentrification, and cultural loyalty, Gentefied will appeal to fans of The Bear. The comedy-drama is about three Mexican American cousins who feel obligated to keep their grandfather’s family taco shop afloat while also wanting to pursue their own hopes and dreams for the future.

Like Carmy, they are pulled into a family business but have aspirations to do more with their lives. There is also friction among the cousins and the same push and pull between the old life and the possibilities for a new one. Gentefied was canceled after two seasons but it’s still worth a watch for another perspective on a similar topic.

Stream Gentefied on Netflix.

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Expert tech and gaming writer, blending computer science expertise