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New Netflix series ‘Beef’ is packed with art symbolism
What sets this show apart is its unexpected use of art symbolism
Art Stuff 18 Apr 2023
Steven Yeun as Danny and Ali Wong as Amy in BEEF Season 1.
Images: Andrew Cooper/Netflix

Get ready to sink your teeth into “Beef,” a hot new Netflix series that tells the story of a road rage incident between two strangers, Amy (played by Ali Wong) and Danny (played by Steven Yeun). As their feud escalates, their darkest impulses are brought to the surface. But what sets this show apart is its unexpected use of art symbolism. From the stunning architecture to the high-end furniture and even the weird ceramics, each element is carefully crafted to help tell Amy and Danny’s story of mania and alienation.

Patti Yasutake as Fumi in BEEF Season 1.
Andrew Cooper/Netflix

But wait, there’s more! The show’s creators added a playful twist to the mix with the use of art for each episode’s opening title card.

When I prepared the PowerPoint pitch for buyers, I wanted a very bombastic title card to catch everyone’s attention. I had loved the 16th-century painting ‘A Meat Stall with the Holy Family Giving Alms‘ for some time, and I felt the look and themes of the painting fit the mood of the show,” showrunner Lee Sung Jin told online publication IndieWire. Following on from the first title card, “A Meat Stall with the Holy Giving Family Alms” by Pieter Aertsen, Lee thought of a more contemporary artist to go with to create the remaining 9 title cards. “David Choe, who plays Isaac, suggested I use his paintings. He stopped showing his work publicly over a decade ago, so he had hundreds of paintings no one had ever seen,” Lee said. “He graciously allowed me to pick the ones I felt fit the episodes the best.”

As the story unfolds, the art of the title card accelerates Amy and Danny’s revenge spiral in the most entertaining way. These haunting, disturbing, and grotesque images capture the sense of inner ugliness, torment, and shame. With “Beef,” you’ll be on the edge of your seat, both mesmerized by the artful symbolism and eagerly anticipating the next opening title card. It’s a wild ride that you won’t want to miss!

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