I can't believe I watched the whole thing.
I binged the entirety of The Bear season 2 in just a few days following its debut on June 22. Despite my best intentions to extend the series over the course of a couple weeks, I couldn't help from devouring episode after episode. And now I'm full of regrets.
This is the latest edition of a column where members of the Tom's Guide staff share what they're watching and/or enjoying right now, with the goal of helping you find great shows and movies that you may have missed. We previously covered The Crowded Room.
It looks like I'm not alone in my gluttony. FX and Hulu are reporting a 70% increase in total hours streamed over the first season after the first four days. And the new show broke its own record for the most-watched single season of a comedy series in FX history.
So, a lot of viewers binged The Bear season 2, too. But I wish I'd doled it out in smaller portions.
As the saying goes:
Very light spoilers for The Bear season 2 ahead.
The Bear season 2 got even better
The dreaded sophomore slump hits so many television shows. For every triumph like Abbott Elementary or Fleabag, there's a Heroes or Yellowjackets (sorry, it's true).
Such a slump felt inevitable, especially with how great the first season of The Bear was. How could the show maintain its high-octane adrenaline rush? The answer: by not doing more of the same.
Sure, season 2 has its stressful moments. Carmy (Jeremy Allen White), Sydney (Ayo Edibiri), Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) and the kitchen crew are renovating and reopening the restaurant. If you've ever seen "Restaurant Wars" on Top Chef, you know it is basically one of the hardest, heart attack-inducing things anyone could do. The flashback Christmas episode and the finale definitely left me sweating (and swearing).
But on the whole, The Bear season 2 doesn't put its characters (or the audience) in the pressure cooker the entire time. Both Syd and Marcus (Lionel Boyce) go off on separate food journeys that contemplative, wondrous and even joyful.
Richie also gets a spotlight episode that reveals the calm precision pervading a Michelin-starred restaurant. He shares a beautifully quiet moment with a renowned chef. His experience changes him (and results in one of the best needle drops in recent memory).
I won't even get into the cameos, except to say that there were a lot of them, that some were quite stunning and they serve as wonderful side dishes to the main course.
Thanks to of The Bear season 2's excellence, it's pretty much impossible to decline when Hulu presents the next episode. But don't keep pressing play like I did. Or you, too, will be full of regrets.
Outlook: The Bear season 2 is a dish best served weekly
I both love and hate FX/Hulu right now. Love because they served up The Bear in the first place. Hate because they could've decided to roll out season 2 weekly or in small batches, rather than the full drop.
The dearth of great television right now didn't help, either (looking at you, Secret Invasion). Of course, I take the majority of the blame. I started out by telling myself to watch just two episodes every week, but my willpower quickly crumbled in the face of fantastic writing, directing and acting.
If you've avoided bingeing The Bear season 2, congratulations and stay strong.