The Bear season 3 labeled ‘aimless’ and ‘messy’ in middling reviews

The highly anticipated third season of The Bear seems to have left critics mostly unsatisfied. In fact, the middling reviews have gone so far as to call it “messy” and “aimless.”

FX’s popular restaurant drama, which follows Jeremy Allen White’s award-winning chef Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto as he attempts to turn his dead brother’s Chicago sandwich shop into a fine dining destination, returned to screens on Wednesday (June 26) – a day earlier than originally expected.

While fans have been eagerly awaiting its return following its successful sweep at the postponed 75th Primetime Emmys, it appears they might be in for disappointment, at least according to the majority of reviews.

In The Independent’s three-star review, Nick Hilton labeled it a “frenetic drama” that “feels stuck in a loop of its own creation.”

“Kicking off with an avant-garde first episode, the Chicago-set Emmy winner seems to be losing its way,” he wrote, adding: “To be a victim of your own success requires you to achieve something. And while “Part III” of The Bear (as the show styles it) doesn’t hit the heights of episodes like ‘Fishes’ or ‘Forks,’ it is still a serviceable frenzy of culinary panache.”

Variety’s Alison Herman wrote: “The Bear takes a step down in an aimless season three that leans too heavily on star power.”

Jeremy Allen White returns as Carmy in season three of ‘The Bear’ (HULU)
Jeremy Allen White returns as Carmy in season three of ‘The Bear’ (HULU)

She went on to argue that the show now “feels torn between two identities: a voice for the world of restaurants at large, and a specific story about a specific set of characters,” adding that conversations can lapse into broad sermons.

“As The Bear has continued, it’s developed the Berzatto family dysfunction – and its collateral damage to the siblings’ colleagues – enough that there’s no need to rely on such generalizations,” wrote Herman. “For The Bear, demonstrating its bona fides is a flex; understanding it doesn’t need them anymore would be a true sign of confidence.”

Meanwhile, Amy McCarthy bluntly panned the new season as “a mess” in her review for Eater. “There is occasionally a sense, though, that The Bear is trying to do a bit too much all at once,” McCarthy elaborated. “Sometimes, the constellation of heavy themes that it explores – mental health, family trauma, how food systems work, economic uncertainty, ageism, toxic chef culture – collapses in on itself, and scenes are muddled.”

“What passes for humor on the show is essentially guys yelling ‘f*** you’ to each other, an exhausting shtick repeated ad nauseam,” Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson wrote. “These jags of banter badly pierce the bubble of the show’s supposed realism. Is this a verité look at the workings of a high-stakes kitchen, or caustic hyperbole? Again, the show wants to be both, and thus satisfies neither side.”

Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Feinberg was far more laudatory, arguing: “On an episode-by-episode basis, the third season of The Bear is as good as anything the show has ever done. Possibly better?”

Nicole Gallucci agreed, writing for Decider: “The Bear’s brilliant blend of overstimulating mayhem, precision, and catharsis is a special place onto itself. Season 3 grills, sears, then professionally plates your heartstrings, right before cruelly tossing them in the trash, and no matter what becomes of Carmy’s rising Chicago hot spot in the future, the show will leave an enduring legacy on television.”

The Bear may not have the same sense of intense urgency in Season 3,” TheWrap’s Michel Ghanem said, “but it feels no less exciting to return to this textured world of culinary wonder with a cast that’s always worth watching.”

Despite the mixed reviews, season three’s aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes remains at a strong 93 percent at the time of writing.

Season three of The Bear is available to stream on Hulu in the US and Disney+ in the UK.