January 24, 2023

#TheBearFX: Why I'm Rooting for Sydney & Carmy

L to R: Ayo Edebiri as "Sydney Adamu", and Jeremy Allan White as "Carmen 'Carmy' Berzatto"
I know y'all are probably thinking, Alliyah, this is supposed to be a gothy/witchy/fantasy/moody period piece type of blog. Why are you talking about The Bear???

Okay, so hear me out...demons are some goth shit, right? But not all demons are external and of supernatural origin; sometimes, demons are strictly internal. And there's no shortage of inner demons on The Bear.

Spoilers to follow.

Now...this show is not for the faint of heart. If you've ever worked in a restaurant, it can be triggering. Some food service workers have lauded the show for its effort at authenticity, but at the same time refuse to watch it or certain episodes. The show is intended to be a dark comedy-drama (emphasis on "dark" and "drama"). Suicide, substance abuse, workplace toxicity, PTSD, and just all-round being crazy are pretty much the core themes.

Let's begin.

When his older brother kills himself, Carmy, a world-class chef, inherits his family's raggedy little restaurant, called The Beef. Set in present-day Chicago, the show begins two weeks after Carmy takes over and we can see the whole place is in shambles. His brother's employees are a bunch emotionally stunted, overgrown children who work in a filthy establishment without batting an eye. Carmy's adopted cousin "Richie", who co-manages The Beef, is the living embodiment of chaos.

Our heroes--if you can call them that--meet when Sydney applies to stage (assist) in the restaurant temporarily.

Quick side note: fans of the show already know Sydney is full of shit here; she came to The Beef specifically for Carmy. She knows his background, she's even tasted his cooking, and she wants to study at the feet of a legend. Normally, that would be fine, except....

Some fun facts about Carmy: his older brother Michael (yes, the one who killed himself) wouldn't let him work at The Beef originally. Feeling unloved and shut out, Carmy pushed himself through a top culinary school, then onto some of the world's greatest restaurants, all the while enduring hellish abuse. In fact, in Episode 2, there's this horrific flashback to a head chef standing over his shoulder telling Carmy over and over again that he's trash, he'll never amount to anything, and that he should kill himself (seriously). To which Carmy is ordered to reply, "Yes, Chef."

So now, Carmy is a Tums-popping, chain-smoking, workaholic insomniac who hates himself. After a long day of making great-tasting food, he comes home to stand at his kitchen counter for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Doritos, and a soda. He then lays on the smallest couch ever, watching cooking shows as he tries to fall asleep. When he finally does, Carmy then sleepwalks into his kitchen, fires up his stove, and nearly burns his apartment to the ground.

It's quickly revealed that his brother had a drug problem, so he goes to Al-Anon meetings, but let's face it; Carmy is unhinged, and needs some serious therapy.

So why would I wish him upon any woman, especially a bright, young Black woman who displays exceptional competence, ingenuity, and a willingness to learn? Simple: because Sydney is also crazy.

Yes, I said it. I went there. And I will die on this hill.

Sydney Adamu is crazy; she merely disguises it better. She has a little cabinet full of meds (to manage her notably unspecified issues), her little skincare routine, and her little notebook full of scribbling. She's impatient and impulsive, sometimes to the point of obsession, like a stereotypical chef.

In fact, the writers make sure to drop hints that Sydney and Carmy are two sides of the same coin. They speak in unison. They finish each others' thoughts. Having both been abused in fancy kitchens, they're plagued by PTSD. They both set "11111" as the passcode to their phones, they're both insomniacs, and they both ate donuts off that floor without blinking--crazy.

They're even the same height.
In the realm of forbidden romance, crazy folks are the other white meat. And as much as I personally hate to admit it, once I saw Jeremy outside his "Carmy" persona, I didn't find him appealing at all. In his interviews, he came across as a mentally stable, married father of two. No thank you.

That being said, most of us know better than to date a Carmy Berzatto in real life, because we don't need that headache. What we do need, however, is an onscreen proxy to assume the risk for us, so I happily volunteer Sydney as tribute.

Mind you, the whole reason I even started watching The Bear in the first place was that I read all these articles about how the "hottest" show on TV had no sex. In fact, Jeremy Allan White has repeatedly touted Carmy Berzatto as the "least sexual person". And yet, I (and many other lunatics) didn't miss how Carmy repeatedly looked at Sydney. It was these subtle, head-tilting moments that made us go...Huh.

So when Jeremy, Ayo, and the writers all announced that Sydney and Carmy would remain strictly platonic, I rolled my eyes.

Let me be clear: I don't need to see them have sex, but I do find it interesting that in the usual platonic vs. romantic tug-of-war, not once did anyone suggest that they be an asexual couple. I mean, God forbid the aces get some representation, right? Heavens forfend the writers actually take things up a notch and truly give us something new, you know?

A lot of the fans who ship Sydney/Carmy want to see some sex, and I don't begrudge them. Their chemistry instantly reminded me of Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie (Jeremy and Ayo are simply more adorkable). Even so, we're bombarded with excuses as to why these two absolutely, unequivocally cannot possibly get together.

It's the same tired bullshit we've heard across literally decades of different fandoms, going all the way back to the original Spock and Uhura. And I say all that to say this: it's so very interesting how important male-female platonic relationships suddenly become when one-half of those relationships is a Black woman.

Bonus: My favorite picture of this woman, so y'all can go ahead
and bow down....

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