Beef: Netflix Comedy-Drama Inspired By a Real Incident

Image Credit: Andrew Cooper/Netflix

Netflix’s ‘Beef’ is a comedy-drama series created by Lee Sung Jin. It stars Steven Yeun (‘The Walking Dead‘) and Ali Wong (‘Love, Victor‘) as Danny Cho and Amy Lau, two distinct individuals living separate but unfulfilled lives. However, when a chance encounter between the two leads to a road rage incident, Danny and Amy are consumed with getting revenge. The smartly written and witty story explores a spectrum of human emotions through morally complex characters. As a result, viewers must be curious to learn more about the inspiration behind the series. If you wonder whether ‘Beef’ is based on true events, here is everything you need to know!

The Inspiration Behind Beef

Yes, ‘Beef’ is loosely based on a true story. The comedy-drama series is the brainchild of writer-creator Lee Sung Jin, AKA Sonny Lee. Born in Seoul, South Korea, Lee primarily began his career in Hollywood as a writer. He has worked on episodes of the comedy series ‘Rob & Big’ based on the life of professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek. Lee gained prominence for his work on the critically acclaimed FX comedy ‘Dave.’ His other writing credits include shows such as ‘Silicon Valley,’ ‘2 Broke Girls,’ and ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.’

‘Beef’ is Lee’s first show as a creator, and its concept was devised from a real-life road rage incident involving the writer. In an interview, he recalled the incident, which took place in the Spring of 2019. One day, while returning home from work, Lee was waiting at a signal in Los Angeles when he missed the red light turn green. As a result, a driver in a white SUV pulled up beside his car and cursed at him. The abuse promoted Lee to follow the SUV, and he only left after giving the driver a threatening gaze.

The real-life incident forms the premise of ‘Beef,’ in which a similar road rage incident between Danny Cho, a construction worker, and Amy Lau, a small business owner, leads to a series of unsettling events. Yet, unlike the show’s iteration, which sees Danny and Amy becoming involved in each other’s lives, stalking one another, and plotting for revenge, Lee decided to leave the incident in the rearview reasonably quickly.

Nonetheless, the incident gave Lee the idea for a show about two characters that project their inner insecurities onto a stranger. “And basically off of that, I was like, there’s something interesting here about two people who are just so trapped in their subjective views of the world, so then I (talked with) A24 and told them about the idea,” Lee shared about the show’s conceptualization in an interview Complex.

While talking to Rolling Stone, lead actor Steven Yeun also spoke about the show’s concept. “We’re not living only just in the metal box on the road; we’re also living in the metal box in our own minds, on our screens. Everything’s tailor-made to an individual existence now. Things are rarely feeling shared,” he said. Moreover, Lee has revealed that some aspects of Donny and Amy’s lives were lifted from the real life of actors Steven Yeun and Ali Wong, who essay the roles.

All things said, ‘Beef’ is not directly based on a true story. However, its concept originates from an actual road rage incident experienced by the show’s creator Lee Sung Jin. Still, Lee uses the incident to craft a fictional story centering on two characters wrapped up in their subjective worldviews. As a result, the series comments on the current state of society, where people seek an external conduit to project their insecurities. Consequently, the characters are emotionally resonant for the viewers and help convey some universal themes, giving the show a touch of realism.

Read More: Where is Netflix’s Beef Filmed?