The Bear season 3 lives within the intensity of the kitchen just the same as before, but the writers take special care to leverage the cast’s chemistry and the audience’s understanding of each character’s quirks to heighten the hilarious jokes and produce several payoffs per episode. This means that even when the stress levels start going to 100 and the anxiety starts weighing them down like a heavy meal stuck in the stomach, the show forces the viewers to read the irony of the room and the chaotic scenarios Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) and the gang get themselves into. 

The third episode in the season, “Doors”, features enough funniness for the entire 10-episode slate all on its own. Following an entire month of operating the restaurant in the first summer since it reopened, the episode asks us to laugh at the misery of the staff in a variety of sharply written and acted comedic scenes. 

Every person working at the Bear has a vital role, even jovial family friend Neil Fak (Matty Matheson). With Carmy frantically cooking up something new each evening and Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) applying his newfound serving skills learned during season 2’s “Forks,” Fak is a little bit of a Swiss army knife of support for both men. When Carmy asks Fak to bring some hot broth to some guests, his lack of clarity leads to Neil’s best scene in the series.

Fak may fit snuggly into the comedic relief role, but most of the characters have the ability to make us laugh just from off-hand one-liners and matter-of-fact line delivery. Jimmy “Cicero” Kalinowski (Oliver Platt) patrols both the kitchen and the lobby like a vulture looking for its next meal, obviously stressed about the payoff he’ll receive from his investment in the Bear. Cicero’s sarcasm never fails to make us laugh, from bluntly reporting how shitty the restaurant’s finances are to brilliant retorting about the unnecessary excesses of $11,268 butter. “What is it? From the rare Transylvanian, five-titted goat?” Carmy responds that it’s Orwellian butter, to which Cicero claps back asking if it’s dystopian! (In reality, it’s from the dairy-rich Orwell, Vermont).

Other times the show excels with situational comedy at a rarely seen level in other series. Richie leading some annoying guests who won’t leave the restaurant into the kitchen as a last-ditch effort to open up a table builds up palpable comedic tension. How will Carmy and Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) react? The looks on their faces are worth more than a benign chuckle. 

Jamie Lee Curtis and John Cena also deserve a shout-out for not only adding to the guest star power of the season, but for multiplying the laughs most of the time they’re on screen. Cena has become one of Hollywood’s most popular light-hearted actors in recent years. While his presence is a little distracting in “Children,” the chemistry he develops with Neil and his threats to “haunt” the Fak family make for a perfect foil to the usual ominous energy hanging over the dining room. 

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