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The Bear Season 3 Mirrors the Struggles of the Media Industry

"You ever think about how all the good sh*t is gone?" hits close to home for today's journalists.
  • Jeremy Allen White in The Bear (Photo: FX)
    Jeremy Allen White in The Bear (Photo: FX)

    [Note: This post discusses plot points from The Bear Season 3.]

    “I thought it would be there forever.”

    “Most things aren’t.”

    There are many emotionally loaded moments in Season 3 of The Bear, but this exchange between Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) and his sister Natalie (Abby Elliott) feels especially poignant. The third season of FX’s acclaimed comedy-drama series, which premiered June 27, sees Carmy grappling with the unexpected news that Chef Andrea Terry’s (Olivia Colman) beloved fine dining establishment Ever — “the greatest restaurant in the world” — is closing its doors. 

    Ever, which is inspired by the real (still open) Michelin-starred restaurant in Chicago, was first introduced in Season 2 when Carmy sent Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) there as a stagiaire. Although Richie was stubborn at first, he ultimately came away from the experience with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for fine dining. 

    Carmy also previously worked at Ever under Terry, and his time there clearly had a profound impact on his culinary career. So, it’s easy to see why finding out about Ever’s closure in Episode 5 (“Children”) is a real gut punch for him. He tells Natalie that he feels like he’s been “Etch-A-Sketched” — this place that was so formative for him, that he thought would be there “forever,” is suddenly just gone, and he can’t quite wrap his head around it. 

    The shocking Ever news sparks a frenzy of articles about the “death” of fine dining, only adding to Carmy’s angst. This storyline was almost certainly inspired by Noma; the three-Michelin-star Copenhagen restaurant, regularly lauded as “the best restaurant in the world,” fueled nearly identical headlines when it announced in January 2023 that it would be closing its doors for regular service in late 2024. “It’s unsustainable,” Chef René Redzepi told The New York Times.

    While Ever’s closure in The Bear is no doubt a commentary on the state of fine dining, the storyline also reflects the dire state of the media industry today. Like fine dining, media is reckoning with a business model primarily made unsustainable by private equity — print journalism is in alarming decline, and digital media, previously touted as the future of news, is plagued with near-constant mass layoffs. Per Challenger, Gray, & Christmas Inc., over 20,000 media jobs were slashed in 2023 alone. 

    Vice, once valued at $5.7 billion, filed for bankruptcy in 2023; BuzzFeed News, Launcher, the short-lived site The Messenger, and more have shuttered operations entirely. Every week, there’s another loss. When Richie ponders, “You ever think about how all the good sh*t is gone?,” it hits all too close to home. 

    In certain ways, the restaurant and media industries aren’t so different from each other. The ultra stressful kitchen and cutthroat culture portrayed on The Bear is (unfortunately) similar to how many newsrooms operate: both environments are fueled by constant deadlines, often lack work-life balance, and don’t pay very much. Just like chefs need to complete customers’ orders quickly without botching the dishes, there’s constant pressure for reporters to be the first to break stories or, at the very least, publish them as fast as possible without glaring typos (never mind that all the copy editors were just laid off). There’s also constant cost-cutting and downsizing; at one point, it’s even absurdly suggested that The Bear simply just “get a cheaper Marcus [Lionel Boyce].” 

    While Carmy wants to experiment with dishes and elevate the restaurant menu with unique rotating options, he also recognizes that this model is more challenging, time-consuming, and costly than simply serving up the same reliable Italian beef sandwiches. In the same vein, it’s depressingly difficult to make the case for original reporting and creative long-form pieces when you could just churn out a dozen quick SEO hits instead — nobody goes into journalism dreaming of aggregation and traffic goals, but it’s what’s on the menu. 

    Yet there’s still a real sense of passion and joy pulsating through the veins of both industries. In Episode 10, “Funeral,” Ever employees share what led them to get into the restaurant business in the first place — cooking with their parents as a child, bringing a dish to a school potluck and seeing all their classmates enjoy it, the privilege of getting to help people celebrate some of the best moments of their lives with or provide comfort in tough times. Similarly, those of us in media stick with it because we’ve had a deep love for writing since we were kids, thrive on the rush of breaking exciting news or interviewing someone we’ve long been a fan of, or simply live for the feeling of getting to tell a story that matters. 

    Ever doesn’t close down due to financial woes or mismanagement, but because Chef Terry is (understandably) ready to hang up her apron and enjoy a more balanced life. Still, seeing the beloved restaurant close its doors stings. Carmy tells Terry that he feels like he’s “always starting over” in his career, a sentiment that rings all too familiar to anyone who’s gone through multiple rounds of media layoffs and shutdowns (at this point, that’s most of us). 

    When Syd (Ayo Edebri) asks Carmy if he knew that Ever was “special” while he was there, it takes him a second to process the question. “I don’t know,” he says after a moment. “I think I was always too busy to know all the time.” 

    It’s easy to get caught up in the daily hustle and stress of deadlines and quotas — Carmy’s “every second counts” sign could just as easily suit a newsroom — and lose sight of why we’re still here reporting in the first place. But just as Carmy can’t fathom life beyond the kitchen, many of us really can’t imagine doing anything else.

    The days of comfortably staying at a legacy publication for decades are, for the most part, long gone. Anyone working in the media industry in this day and age has to constantly live with the harsh truth that, just like Ever, the doors could close any time. But, as Syd tells Carmy, if that day comes, at least we got to be a part of something special. 

    The Bear Season 3 is streaming in its entirety on Hulu. Join the discussion in our forums.

    Kelly Martinez is a TV Reporter based in Los Angeles. Her previous work can be found at BuzzFeed and People Magazine, among other outlets. She enjoys reading, spending time with her cat, and explaining the plot of Riverdale to people.

    TOPICS: The Bear, FX, Abby Elliott, Ayo Edebiri , Christopher Storer, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Jeremy Allen White, Liza Colon-Zayas, Matty Matheson, Oliver Platt