The Bear branded 'frustrating' as series three gets mixed reviews

The show follows a chef who goes back to his hometown to run his late brother’s sandwich shop

“THE BEAR” — “Tomorrow” — Season 3, Episode 1 (Airs Thursday, June 27th) — Pictured: Jeremy Allen White as Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto. CR: FX.
Jeremy Allen White stars in The Bear. (FX)

Reviews for The Bear series three are in and it’s a mixed platter, with the Disney+ restaurant drama praised by some but called “frustrating” and "aimless" by others.

The high-pressure drama follows award-winning chef Carmen "Carmy" Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White) who returns to his hometown of Chicago to rescue his late brother’s struggling sandwich shop, The Beef. He is on a mission to transform the rundown eatery into something special, and viewers were gripped by the fast-paced kitchen antics when the show started in 2022.

It became a huge hit, with critics serving up glowing five star review after glowing five star review and hailing it as one of the best programmes on TV. So hopes were high for the third run.

However, early reviews suggest some critics think The Bear may have gone slightly off the boil. Reviews for the cast — including White, Ayo Edebiri and Ebon Moss-Bachrach — were still favourable. But complaints ranged from the series being a bit repetitive to the tension tapering off.

“THE BEAR” — “Next” — Season 3, Episode 2 (Airs Thursday, June 27th) — Pictured: Jeremy Allen White as Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto. CR: FX.
The series has been a massive hit. (FX)

The Guardian dished up just three stars out of a possible five, a real slip from the perfect five out of five its first season received from the publication back in 2022.

Rebecca Nicholson called the series “unbelievably frustrating” in her headline, noting that this time around the stakes felt “a little lower”. Nicholson acknowledged that when it’s going well The Bear is great television, but she said the third series was in a “tricky spot” given Carmy’s position. As series two ended he was wrapping up The Beef and prepping to run The Bear, a much more upmarket restaurant.

“If Carmen largely gets what he wants, professionally at least, where can the story go?” she asked. “It doesn’t quite find a solution. The stakes are a little lower.”

Nicholson went on: “There is a circular feel to the season overall, which keeps spiralling back to the idea that Carmen may be doomed to repeat his mistakes. That makes for another bind: dogged repetition is the enemy of convincing storytelling. It needs to move.”

“THE BEAR” — “Tomorrow” — Season 3, Episode 1 (Airs Thursday, June 27th) — Pictured: Ayo Edebiri as Sydney Adamu. CR: FX.
Ayo Edebiri is one of the stars of the show. (FX)

Writing in The Independent, Nick Hilton echoed Nicholson’s thoughts on things seeming less risky, saying: “The stakes feel lower with the restaurant now open and Richie having found some meaning in the front of house. If the first series was about returning to your roots and the second about turning those roots into a nice, earthy terrine, what drives this third instalment?”

Read more: The Bear

Hilton said while the cast members were still “exceptional”, that “something is lost in this new series”. Giving it three out of five stars the critic suggested The Bear “feels stuck in a loop of its own creation”.

Variety’s reviewer felt the new series was a bit "aimless" and lacked the same sort of “focus” as the first two. Critic Alison Herman said that it leaned too much on star power — it has been reported that the likes of Josh Hartnett and John Cena will cameo.

She said that “without a fixed destination, the main narrative itself can get bogged down with repetition and stunt casting before the season ends with most storylines unresolved”.

“THE BEAR” — “Tomorrow” — Season 3, Episode 1 (Airs Thursday, June 27th) — Pictured: (l-r) Jeremy Allen White as Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto, Ayo Edebiri as Sydney Adamu. CR: FX.
Critics had mixed opinions on season three. (FX)

Discussing episode one, which focuses on Carmy’s recollection of a range of life experiences, she wrote: “It also tells us nothing we don’t already know, making room for cameos by a slew of culinary legends at the expense of moving the story forward.”

However, others have insisted that The Bear hasn’t slipped. The Telegraph gave it four out of five stars and said it was “haute cuisine for the small screen”. Citing the way the series uses “flickering fast-cuts” to give an idea of the pressure of the restaurant opening, “superb camerawork” and “terrific performances”, the piece said there was "no doubt that The Bear remains among the very best shows on television".

But critic Benji Wilson did concede that this season "does a lot of looking back without ever really moving forward”. "The stories – will they get that crucial good restaurant review?; Will Syd stick around?; Will Richie hold it together? – are all familiar from seasons one and two,” Wilson added.

The Daily Beast's critic was clearly won over, saying The Bear dished out a “a small-scale masterpiece that eschews the show’s typical frenzy for quiet, empathetic, warts-and-all contemplation” in episode one.

“THE BEAR” — “Tomorrow” — Season 3, Episode 1 (Airs Thursday, June 27th) — Pictured: Jeremy Allen White as Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto. CR: FX.
Jeremy Allen White stars as Carmen 'Carmy' Berzatto. (FX)

“Positing pandemonium and tranquillity as two sides of the same creative coin, The Bear’s serene downtime is as gripping and moving as its demented delirium,” Nick Schager wrote. “Echoing the mantra preached by Olivia Colman’s Chef Terry, whose own restaurant’s fate figures into this season’s story, it makes every second count.”

Nick Clark noted in the Evening Standard that the first instalment of the new series did have a different tone, but said in his review – entitled 'The Bear season 3 episode 1: a reflective opening simmering all the right ingredients for the new series' – that it perfectly set up the new series.

He was impressed by the first episode, which showed Carmy reflecting, saying its format and style were "somewhat mesmeric". "Beautifully shot and increasingly haunting as storylines are thrown into the mix, as hope dims in some aspects of his life, and moments of clarity appear elsewhere," he wrote.

He went on: “Here is a man, built up, broken and built up again by his experiences – holding it together but for how long. And it poses the question: which way is he going to go now?”

The Bear is streaming on Disney+.