The Bear

The first season of FX/Hulu's The Bear was good TV. It was a fast-paced, loud-mouthed, frenetic look into the world of the service industry and the people who make the food we love. It was a fun watch (if you could put up with all the YELLING.) Hardcore foodies could recognize and appreciate the Bourdain of it all (I'm talking original, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly Bourdain - the stuff that helped elevate the mystique around rockstar chefs and help create the industry of food culture as we know it today.) But the second season of The Bear elevated the show to a place where it belongs in discussions for the current “best show on television” The show deals with some big, deep, intricate themes and handles them beautifully. One of the main themes of this season is how various characters seek to find their purpose in life through their work. In that exploration, it shows different characters at various stages of their personal and professional development to represent how, without proper balance in life, one's passion can become an obsession which can lead to never feeling fulfilled. It's a delicate dance that the show pulls off wonderfully. The Bear, as many other great television programs of the past (The Sopranos, Succession, Mad Men to name a few), also explores themes of generational trauma, trying to rise above a turbulent past while not abandoning your roots, and how this all comes crashing in on us (quite literally) when around the people who know us the best. It's heavy stuff, for sure, but the show handles it with humor, love, passion, and enough food porn to keep our palates cleansed for the times it wants to punch us in the mouth.
- Aaron Hertzog
FanSided Contributor Sourcing Specialist

Best fan moment of the year

Season 2, Episode 7 Forks. This episode is pure joy. It is, without hyperbole, a perfect episode of television. It is a self-contained story that in 35 minutes completely transforms a character in a way that feels real and earned. Ebon Moss-Bachrach shines as Cousin Richie, and to watch him slowly discover throughout the episode a meaning and purpose in himself is inspirational. You can watch him shed the weight of self-doubt, the baggage of feeling like he's no good, and become lighter as time goes on (it's like watching Rocky come out of his shell around Adrian). Before this episode, Richie is a pain-in-the-ass, stubborn, selfish know-it-all who everybody else has to put up with because they can't get rid of him out of pure, old-school, Chicago loyalty. In Episode 6 (Fishes, the Christmas episode, another all-timer) seeds are planted to show a more vulnerable side of the character. Those seeds take no time to sprout into a blossoming, flowering plant of a brand new Richie to root for. At least two other episodes this season (Episode 4 and Episode 6) made me think that I just watched one of my favorite television episodes of all time, and then this episode came along and made me know for certain.

What was the icon or totem for this fandom this year?