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“BEEF” – Humans Are Never Good or Bad

Our lives are intertwined in many ways, what happens within us influences our relationship with others and, many times, our wounds rub against each other until the scabs are off and we are left raw.



Photo of BEEF from Netflix

We usually see humans in two categories – the good and the bad. The good do the right things, according to society. They’re kind, loving, generous and won’t deliberately hurt you. To be bad is to… well, do bad things.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through the years, it is that life is made up of many shades of grey, and humans are so intricate and multifaceted that I have since learned to throw the box away – it is futile to fit humans into it. I am reminded of this multifacetedness in “BEEF”. A honk and a road rage spiralled into an endless cycle of revenge, and two lives are forever altered.

“BEEF” follows the lives of two Asians – Danny and Amy. Danny is seated in his car one afternoon, seething over his futile effort to return goods he had earlier purchased. He is about to leave when Amy honks at him in her shiny white car, and then gives him the F sign – unprovoked. Angered by her action, Danny chases her down the road in rage as she drives off. Danny later looks her up through an app and, pretending to be a contractor, pays a visit to her home, pees all over her toilet and runs away.

I found that scene funny – do me I do you, man no go vex, abi? – and I giggled as I watched. Amy wasn’t having it. She sought to retaliate and both of them went down the rabbit hole of hurting each other. What was meant to be mere beef became a bitter, imbecilic feud, intensifying with every action.

The I-must-stop-these-bouts-of-revenge moment, for Danny, was when he tried to set Amy’s car on fire but found her daughter in it. He went home muttering sadly, ‘I almost set a child on fire.’ He was ready to let go and forget he ever met Amy and would have achieved this if Amy did not make it her life mission to haunt him.

One of the questions the viewers may ask themselves is – why is Amy hell-bent on revenge? Especially when she was at fault in the first place. Why can’t she leave Danny the hell alone? What’s it to her?

The answer to these questions is simple: Amy’s life has become so monotonous, gloomy and unhappy that the thought of retaliation gave her a rush of adrenaline. It took her mind off the usual – work and family – and made her happy in a twisted way. Her beef with him made all the difference between her and the life of despair. It was fun until it was no longer.

“BEEF” is an exploration of what makes and breaks us, and how it affects how we show up in the world. Our lives are intertwined in many ways, what happens within us influences our relationship with others and, many times, our wounds rub against each other until the scabs are off and we are left raw.

We are such inward secret creatures

As I watch the series, I see how there’s always more to the actions we take or the choices and decisions we make. On the surface, Amy is that revengeful, evil woman who oppresses Danny simply because she can. But when the layers are peeled, we see a woman whose heart is weighed down by the burdens of life’s endless curveballs. She’s tired, angry, pained and hurt. And hurt people always want to hurt more people. 

Danny, on the other hand, is a frustrated man whose efforts are always futile. His business is retrogressing, his parents are stuck in another country, and every time it feels like there’d be a breakthrough, something happens and he finds himself right at the bottom again. It looked like he’ll never win in life. He needs a channel to let out his frustrations so it is no surprise that his reaction to Amy’s actions is usually yea, bring it on.

I find it difficult to determine if Danny and Amy are good or bad people, but that’s another lesson – humans are never really good or bad. We’re simply… humans.

We’re born, we make choices and, suddenly, we’re here.  

One big lesson we can draw from “BEEF” is knowing when to draw the line. Knowing when you’re becoming obsessed with revenge (or insert any vices) and when you need to remind yourself of who you are and your values. Perhaps, if Amy and Danny had done a little bit more introspection, they’d have realised there’s no need to burn someone else’s car, ruin a person’s business by dropping bad, untrue reviews, kidnap a child, or rob a house.

I am reminded, once again, of the importance to guard one’s heart, after all, they say it is where evil resides the most. We find anger, pain and distress lurking in there more often than we want to admit, and sometimes, when we are set on the dark path, we go downhill until we get to a point of no return.

It is also taking a moment to place other people’s needs above self. Perhaps if Amy had known that on the day she honked at Danny, he had tried to return the Hibachi grills he bought to kill himself, she’d have been much kinder. Maybe if Danny hadn’t thrown his brother’s application letters away, his life would have been different. I don’t know. But what I know is that if they had taken time to listen to each other (which didn’t happen until both lives had been ruined), this beef would have ended the way it should – as a lighthearted disagreement that could be laughed off over one or two glasses of wine. Alas! Here we are.



Feature image from Netflix 

Editor at BellaNaija Features. And writing beautiful stories of places, things, and people like you. Reach out to me, I don't bite: [email protected] | Instagram @oluwadunsin___ | Twitter @duunsin.

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