The intense FX dramedy series, The Bear, has taken the internet by storm and has quickly become one of the most talked about 2022 new TV shows (right behind Stranger Things), even for those who don’t have a Hulu subscription. After watching all eight episodes of the frantic yet incredibly heartfelt series about a classically-trained chef taking over his family’s Chicago-based Italian beef restaurant, there’s a good chance you are in the mood for similar films and series.
Well, we have cooked up a rather robust list of movies and shows that are either set in chaotic restaurants, tackle strong family dynamics, feature members of The Bear cast, or are from its creator, Christopher Storer. Let’s turn up the heat and get cooking…
Chef (HBO Max)
After having one too many disagreements with the owner of his restaurant, Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) decides to leave the life of a chef behind and find a new adventure in life. After spinning his wheels, Carl ultimately ends up coming into the possession of an old food truck which he brings back to life to start a Cuban-inspired eatery with his young son and best friend, rekindling the fire for cooking in his heart.
The 2014 underrated comedy Chef, which was also written and directed by Favreau, has a lot in common with The Bear that should resonate with fans of the show. It’s about a broken-down man (both personally and professionally) finding new purpose in life while also learning what it means to love what you do in the process. Plus, the grilled cheese scene still kills.
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The long-running Showtime series, Shameless, spent 11 seasons and 134 episodes exploring the various dynamics of the Gallagher family and its patriarch, Frank (William H. Macy), as they try to make things work in their broken home on the south side of Chicago.
One of the most popular series during the height of its run, Shameless found a great deal of success with its blend of side-splitting humor and heartbreaking emotional moments that played out through various situations. And if you have yet to watch the show and want to see more of The Bear star Jeremy Allen White, this is a good place to start.
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Succession (HBO Max)
Since its debut in 2018, the HBO drama series, Succession, has spent three seasons detailing the business and personal lives of the Roy family, who control the vast Waystar RoyCo media corporation. There’s no separating business from pleasure with this explosive family, as every aspect of their complicated lives are intertwined and tied up in disagreements.
Although Succession doesn’t take place in a small kitchen setting, it is the perfect show for fans of The Bear for a number of reasons, including the fact that both shows focus on close and chaotic familial relationships and that they are two of the more intense programs on TV right now.
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Big Night (Amazon Rental)
With their restaurant on the verge of being forced to close down, brothers Primo (Tony Shalhoub) and Secondo (Stanley Tucci) put all their eggs into one basket for a once-in-a-lifetime dinner for a famous musician in Big Night.
This 1996 comedy, which was directed by Tucci and Campbell Scott, is like a funnier version of The Bear in the sense that the two brothers are forced to find some level of compromise between tradition and a more inclusive approach to their cuisine. But don’t let the light tone fool you, because Big Night is 107 minutes of chaos.
Rent/Buy Big Night on Amazon. (opens in new tab)
Mostly Martha (Hoopla)
Martha Klein (Martina Gedeck) is a highly-successful chef who runs a tight ship and immaculate kitchen with little to no concern for life outside her gourmet restaurant, Lido. That all changes when tragedy falls upon her family, leaving Martha as caretaker for her young niece whose mother has died in a car crash. Together, the chef and young girl find new meaning and purpose in life in Mostly Martha.
If Mostly Martha sounds familiar it’s probably because Sandra Nettelbeck’s 2001 comedy was later remade as No Reservations in 2007 with Catherine Zeta-Jones taking on the lead role. The movie, like The Bear, does a great job of handling delicate subjects and how quickly someone’s life can be completely uprooted, sometimes for the best.
Stream Mostly Martha on Hoopla.
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Boiling Point (Hoopla)
Philip Barantini’s 2021 drama, Boiling Point, follows chef Andy Jones (Stephen Graham) over the course of a single night, an evening that will push him to the brink of total collapse because of a number of mounting issues both within the restaurant and in his personal life.
If you were a fan of The Bear’s one-shot seventh episode then Boiling Point is a must watch. With one continuous shot, the movie works its way through the intense dinner shift and all its complexities. But, this isn’t the only comparison, as the movie also centers on a severely broken man who can feel the walls closing in on him with each passing moment.
Stream Boiling Point on Hoopla.
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Spinning Plates (Tubi)
The 2012 documentary, Spinning Plates, follows a Chicago chef vying for recognition in the competitive food scene, a 150-year-old family restaurant at the center of an Iowa community, and the owner of a struggling Mexican restaurant in Arizona. Each subject faces triumph and tragedy throughout their respective journeys, and learns a little something about life and themselves along the way.
Although this is a documentary instead of a scripted drama series or movie, Spinning Plates does a fantastic job of detailing the struggles restaurant owners face each and every day, no matter if it’s keeping their business open or finding a way to survive a devastating disease.
Stream Spinning Plates on Tubi.
Rescue Me (Hulu)
Over the course of seven seasons and 93 episodes, the award-winning FX drama series, Rescue Me, followed Engine 62, a New York City firehouse whose members are still dealing with the lingering effects of the September 11th terrorist attacks. One of the best FX original series, the popular show mainly focused on Denis Leary’s Tommy Gavin, a deeply troubled yet committed firefighter trying to get through life one day at a time.
This is another show that doesn’t focus on the restaurant scene, but Rescue Me does an incredible job of illustrating how grief, stress, and other issues can shape someone’s life. And though it’s mostly a drama, this long-running FX show did feature some incredibly funny moments throughout its run.
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Eat Drink Man Woman (Amazon Rental)
Ang Lee’s 1994 dramedy, Eat Drink Man Woman, centers on Zhu (Lung Sihung), an aging, semi-retired chef who shares a home with his three grown and unmarried daughters. Although their personal lives are all in disarray, they put it all behind them once a week when they get together for exquisite family meals.
The family dinner scenes before the restaurant opens in several episodes of The Bear always bring joy and peace to the show and provide a nice balance. This can also be said about Eat Drink Man Woman, with its delicious scenes that will leave you contemplating a random food order at 11 p.m.
Rent/Buy Eat Drink Man Woman on Amazon. (opens in new tab)
The Hulu original series, Ramy, follows first-generation American Muslim Ramy Hassan (Ramy Youssef) as he tries to mind middle-ground between his religious upbringing and family’s customs with those of modern society in his New Jersey neighborhood. Over the course of the first two seasons (a third was picked up in 2022, according to Variety), the series explored a number of different themes and blended elements of comedy and drama to a satisfying degree.
There are numerous reasons to give Ramy a spin, but fans of The Bear and the direction by show creator Chris Storer will especially feel at home with this beloved dramedy series, since Storer has directed multiple episodes thus far and serves as one of the executive producers.
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Just A Dash (YouTube)
This last recommendation isn’t a drama series, movie, or documentary, but instead one of the most entertaining and off-the-wall cooking shows on the internet and features one of the most hilarious members of The Bear cast: Matty Matheson. Although his character, Neil Fak, doesn’t really get his hands dirty in the kitchen on the show (he’s more of a handyman), Matheson is without a doubt one of the most noteworthy chefs around right now.
There are a number of places where you can see Matheson in action, like various Bon Appétit videos and even an amazing Architectural Digest tour of his Toronto restaurant, but Matheson’s YouTube cooking show, Just a Dash, is a great place to start. As you’ll see in the various videos, Matheson has a great sense of humor and knowledge in the kitchen that is just so dang charming and fun to watch, even if you don’t plan on recreating his recipes (some of which are quite taxing). Seriously, check this out!
Stream Just a Dash on YouTube.
We don’t yet know when (or if) The Bear will return for a second season, but these various movies and shows should help pass the time in the meantime.