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Chef Carmy in The Bear.
Jeremy Allen White plays chaos chef Carmy in The Bear. (Photo: Supplied; Treatment: Tina Tiller)

Pop CultureJuly 2, 2023

New Zealand fans are being forced to wait for The Bear’s second season

Chef Carmy in The Bear.
Jeremy Allen White plays chaos chef Carmy in The Bear. (Photo: Supplied; Treatment: Tina Tiller)

One of the year’s most hyped TV shows is taking an extra month to make it onto our screens. Why?

This is an excerpt from The Spinoff’s weekly pop culture newsletter Rec Room. Sign up for regular Friday dispatches here.

Come December, when the year’s best TV shows are chewed over and spat out, it seems we may already have found ourselves a winner. “This roaring rager of a series … serves up TV at its brilliant, blistering best,” says the TV critic Peter Travers, who dubs this masterpiece “the Succession of chef shows”.

“It’s better, richer and more satisfying than its first [season] and TV viewers are fortunate to have it,” declares Vulture. “It is a well-choreographed, foul-mouthed ballet,” exclaims USA Today. “[It] transforms something beautiful into something completely breathtaking,” rants the breathless Entertainment Weekly.

Sounds good, right? Sounds like a TV show you should watch immediately. Sounds like something you should absolutely cue up and binge your way through the moment you get home today with a bowl of salty, corn-based snacks and a cold drink at hand.

I’m really sorry to break the news to you, but you can’t do any of that.

The cast of the Bear hit the kitchen.
The Bear’s roaring back, just not in New Zealand. (Photo: Supplied)

This past weekend, American TV critics were given plenty of reasons to smash superlatives into their keyboards. The Bear, last year’s best new TV show and something we’ve been hyping up the return of all year, dropped all 10 episodes of its second season. You couldn’t read a pop culture website or spend five minutes on Twitter without someone saying something amazing about something that happens in episode three, six, or nine. There are listicles about the show’s big-name cameos, and predictions are being made for what might happen in season three. The hype train is real.

We’re not on it. In Aotearoa, we couldn’t take part in any of that. I recently moved and was forced to take a week off from telly-watching while our wifi was sorted out. By Saturday, it was all hooked up and I had one thing only in my sights. So, that night, I cued up Disney+ and clicked on tile for The Bear – the chef show based in a gnarly Chicago sandwich shop that surprised and delighted with a hectic first season fuelled by donuts and chaos energy – only to be greeted by some very sad words.

Season two wasn’t available, and it wouldn’t become available for quite some time.

A screenshot from Disney+ showing delays to the Bear.
(Screenshot: Disney+)

In the age of global streaming domination, this is a problem. Netflix has a new season of Black Mirror on offer, as well as the second instalment of the movie juggernaut Extraction. Prime Video has several new shows to get excited about, including The Power and Dead Ringers. Apple TV+ has the season finale of Silo looming, and Platonic is a friendly, easygoing hang. Neon is rolling along nicely with new seasons of And Just Like That…, Outlander, and Yellowjackets. TVNZ+ just added live sport to its roster, including the latest Ashes test.

There’s a lot going on out there. No one is running out of options. If you want something to watch, you don’t have to go far.

So not offering your fans something that’s likely to make best-of lists at the end of the year, at the same time everyone else gets to see it, is a big problem. We’re all getting better at savvy-switching, spending a month on one streaming service before cancelling and signing up to another. It’s not like Disney+ can use its other big recent release Secret Invasion – slammed for its AI-created credits and called “dour” and “dull” by The Hollywood Reporter – as a reason to make you stick around on the service. A month is a very long time in the world of streaming. By July 19, many things could have changed.

I tried to ask a Disney+ spokesperson why New Zealand faced a four-week wait to see something everyone else was already watching, but the company recently sacked its local on-the-ground team in a global restructure. All I got were sad autoreply statements saying, “Sorry, I no longer work at Disney”. After several days, an overseas rep sent me a response on background, saying vague things about programming decisions relying on many factors including variables in different territories. Follow-up questions weren’t responded to by deadline.

So fans have two options: wait until July 19, or find an alternative way to stream The Bear, the technical methods for which I am not going to list or promote here. (According to my Twitter feed, which includes many local viewers already boasting about how good The Bear’s second season is, illegal streams remain a go-to for those that have no other options.) You could pass the time by bingeing your way through The Bear’s excellent first season again. But that just may make you even more grizzly about the lengthy wait time for season two.

Keep going!