TV Review: “Feed the Beast” – Overdramatic Food Porn

Written by Danielle Sing June 27, 2016

feed the beast

“Feed the Beast” is AMC’s new crime drama starring “Friends” alum David Schwimmer and “Across the Universe’s” Jim Sturgess, who both give solid performances. “Feed the Beast” is beautifully shot and has an interesting premise of opening a high-end restaurant in the crime filed New York City borough of The Bronx, from white-collar crime to organized crime. The emotional and personal drama is overdone,  and the crime drama is stereotypical and provides nothing new to the mob genre. With all of the different dramatic layers, the series becomes complicated, unclear, and could shed some major weight.

Tommy Moran’s (David Schwimmer) wife, Rie (Christine Adams), died from a hit and run while their son, TJ (Elijah Jacob), watched – turning him mute. A year later Dion Patras (Jim Sturgess), who was in prison for burning down the restaurant they both worked at as the chef and sommelier, shows up at Tommy’s home in the The Bronx. Tommy is a functioning drunk who meets Pilar Herrara (Lorenza Izzo), a waitress at a Cuban restaurant in Harlem, at a grief group. Dion is a cocaine loving chef indebted to Patrick Woichik (Michael Gladias), the new leader of the Polish mob. They decide to open a Greek restaurant based on Rie’s plans and must get Tommy’s racist disabled father, Aidan (John Doman), to invest in their restaurant. But Aidan tricks them into a criminal contract while Dion uses the restaurant to pay back the mob.

“He calls himself a chef? He has a secret sauce. McDonald’s has a secret sauce!”

“Feed the Beast” has a unique premise (despite being based off of a Danish series). There are few shows about food and restaurants – that are not on the Food Network – and this element to “Feed the Beast” is great. The food is beautifully shot and the passion that Sturgess’ character cooks with shows good writing, acting, research and direction. Overall, the acting is solid all around. Schwimmer’s acting breaks the rut of his iconic “Friends” role as Ross, as his character David is a concerned single father who’s emotional and intense. Elijah Jacob, who plays the mixed race son of Tommy and Rie, is a young acting talent to look forward in the future. To play a traumatized mute who only uses body language and eye movement to communicate must be difficult for Jacob as “Feed the Beast” is his first credited acting role, but he does a fantastic job.

feed the beast

“Feed the Beast” is overloaded with drama and stereotypical mob-based crime. There are just too many layers within the series that add layer upon layer of drama. Each character has a mountain of their own drama that conflicts with each others drama. This makes the series complicated, but also unclear as to what the endgame is. While that’s good in terms of suspense, it also creates a lack of purpose if it seems to lead to no conclusion or peak. Though the drama is overdone, the writing is smart to tie all of these layers together. But it’s not good enough to clear up the motives behind it.

“I’d blow your brains out, but this is a $30,000 Persian rug.”

In “Feed the Beast”, there are two main components of crime: Aidan’s white-collar crime and the Polish mob. The show’s take on white-collar crime is interesting; it centers on a self-made businessman instead of a Wall Street banker and stresses the bad relationship between Tommy and his father. An elderly father is willing to con his own son into a horrible business contract whichprovides both crime and personal drama for the characters. Unfortunately,it follows every mob/mafia stereotype in the book. A man indebted; strange mobster names that reflect a method of torture; using a restaurant as a front for money laundering; an unqualified son taking over the family business; a cop with a vendetta; and a mole within the organization. “Feed the Beast” offers nothing new which makes it predictable and distracts from the more interesting elements of the series. If the show cut the Polish mob element, it would remove the weak aspects of the show, but still be a good crime drama. Plus, the slow burn of Aidan’s white-collar crime fits the slower pace of the series better than the organized crime.

feed the beast

The overdone drama and stereotypical organized crime in “Feed the Beast” brings down the solid acting and beautiful attention to detail with regards to the food. They are distracting from the good elements of the series. By cutting out the Polish mob, “Feed the Beast” would still be a good crime drama and reduce the over-complication of the story. Crime shows don’t need every single felony thrown into to be interesting; keep it simple because cons and blackmail are just as interesting as violent mobs.

My Rating: 6.5/10

feed the beast

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