In The Bear season 2, Chicago chef Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White) and crew flip his late brother Michael’s sandwich shop The Original Beef of Chicagoland — The Beef, for short — into their dream fine dining restaurant, The Bear. Viewers get to see a new level of visual reverence for food and more of the Berzatto family backstory that contextualizes the high tension that’s constantly on boil in this comedy/drama.
The Bear’s first season was nominated for 13 Emmys, including Outstanding Comedy Series, White for Lead Actor, Ayo Edebiri for Supporting Actress, Ebon Moss-Bachrach for Supporting Actor and both Oliver Platt and Jon Bernthal for Outstanding Guest Actor, all in the comedy category. There’s already buzz that season 2’s story and guest stars — which we won’t get into detail here so as not to spoil anything — could make a strong return to the Emmys in 2024.
If you’ve already binged The Bear season 2 and are looking for compelling viewing to fill the void until we get more episodes (which could sadly be years), there are many different directions to take. We’ve compiled a list of shows like The Bear that have reminiscent or related elements, ranging from comedic dramas, comedies and even cartoons. Keep reading for some suggestions on where to start.
In Gentefied, the family behind Mama Fina’s taco shop is fighting to stay alive in Boyle Heights, the East Los Angeles neighborhood that’s the apple of every gentrifier’s eye. There is humor and sweetness amongst their struggles, and watching may give you a similar feeling to The Bear.
Directed by America Ferrera, the Netflix series starring Joaquín Cosío, J.J. Soria, Karrie Martin Lachney and Carlos Santos is beloved by fans for the excellent ensemble cast and writing, but it was canceled in 2021 after just two short and sweet seasons. It’s a gem that deserves a binge (and a reboot).
Watch on Netflix
Until 2014, chef Gordon Ramsay hosted both American and British versions of his popular restaurant makeover show Kitchen Nightmares. Ramsay visited family-owned businesses with tense kitchen dynamics, health hazards and waning hope for the future.
Slight spoiler: Unlike The Bear, Kitchen Nightmares episodes almost always have a happy ending, with a refreshed restaurant and renewed spirits among staff and owners, even after a verbal butt-kicking from Ramsay. He offers a real-life glimpse into the high stress levels that are simply the standard in restaurant life, with lots of comedy and drama along the way. In May, Ramsay announced that he’s bringing Kitchen Nightmares back, but the timeline for new episodes is currently unknown.
Watch on Hulu
Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories
Imagine the range of interesting clientele that might show up if The Beef was located in Japan and operated from midnight until seven in the morning, and you’ll understand why it’s impossible to watch just one episode of Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories. Like The Bear, great care is taken to show the craft of cooking beautiful dishes. You’ll definitely come away hungry.
There’s a timeless quality to this gentle comedy, which aired for three seasons on Japanese television from 2009 to 2014 and was picked up in 2016 by Netflix. The series is subtitled for North American audiences, and the humor comes through well.
Watch on Netflix
Like The Beef, Bob’s Burgers is a family-owned and operated restaurant that’s struggling to stay afloat amidst fierce competition. The Belcher family — Bob, Linda, Tina, Louise and Gene — has been on television since 2011.
Yes, Bob’s Burgers is an animated series as opposed to the live human action of The Bear, and the Belchers break out into song more than the Berzattos would ever. But Carmy’s issues can feel so over-the-top as to be almost cartoonish, so pairing The Bear with Bob’s Burgers offers a quick drive through some outsized comic relief. Season 14 premieres on October 1, giving you lots of time to binge on Bob’s Burgers.
Watch on Hulu
One of the strangest shows to hit network television in the Aughts, Pushing Daisies originally aired for just short two seasons on ABC between 2007 and 2009. As a young lad, Ned (Lee Pace) learns that he can bring people and animals back to life by touching them, but they die if he touches them again.
The strange, surreal power follows him into adulthood, when he becomes a pie-maker with a restaurant called The Pie Hole. He uses his unique ability to help solve murders, and he gets the chance to undead Chuck (Anna Friel), the childhood sweetheart who gave him his first kiss. Both series capture the power of longing, with some sweet bites along the way.
Watch on Max
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Paddy’s Pub is at the heart of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which is now in an astonishing 16th season. Series creators Rob McElhenny and Glen Howerton star alongside Charlie Day as the pub’s off-the-rails operators, also known as the Gang. They're supported by Kaitlin Olson and Danny DeVito (who joined the cast as the patriarch and pub owner Frank Reynolds in season 2). How this bar stays in business with such a morally-challenged staff is a perpetual mystery.
You’ll quickly discover that the Gang doesn’t exactly stick together. That’s certainly the opposite of how the tight-knit crew in The Bear operates — especially in the latter's second season. But you’ll find plenty of dark humor to devour in both series.
Watch on Hulu
The multi-talented Donald Glover created, produced and starred in this FX dramedy. He plays Earnest “Earn” Marks, the manager of buzzing rapper Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry). Their business takes the guys, as well as their friends and family, around the world, warping reality for everyone including the viewers along the way.
The FX series bowed out in 2022 after four provocative seasons that challenged television conventions. Hiro Murai serves as an executive producer on both Atlanta and The Bear, and despite not dealing in similar subject matter, they share a trait of being tense, dramatic and funny throughout.
Watch on Hulu