Review: In The Bear, a Restaurateur Battles Government Bureaucracy

A Chicago sandwich shop's survival depends on cutting through red tape.


In season two of Hulu's The Bear, the eponymous restaurant staff take on the manual labor of converting their divey-yet-delicious Italian beef sandwich shop into a Michelin restaurant. As if that task wasn't hard enough, they must also grapple with Chicago's stifling and labyrinthine city bureaucracy.

Building codes, fire suppression tests, mold remediation, IRS paperwork, and various licenses threaten to drown the project before it launches. Cascading red tape has to be cleared on a tight deadline or the business will fail. One character explains that the city has to "send a rep and that rep will sign off on another rep who will come and look at stuff and then sign off on a different rep." A liquor application must be driven an hour away and dropped in the required slot. All of that gets in the way of letting the shop's owners and employees do what they do best: food service and hospitality.

The Bear's gripping plot comes from characters who must learn to stop getting in their own way. The behemoth Chicago bureaucracy does them no favors.