“Who the fuck do you think you are, huh?”
In an exclusive clip from Netflix and A24’s upcoming TV show “Beef,” Steven Yeun’s character Danny unleashes a slew of expletives at Ali Wong’s Amy during a dramatic road-rage sequence featuring elaborate car maneuvers and front yard demolition.
The sequence opens with a close-up shot of Danny struggling to buckle his seatbelt outside of Forsters, a fictional DIY hardware store. His already apparent exasperation escalates to a new level when he begins to back his red pickup truck out of his parking space and is stopped abruptly by an incoming white Mercedes-Benz, who honks at him at length.
“What? What?” Danny shouts. “What is your problem? What?”
The car drives past him but stops within eyeshot, and the driver — whom Danny can’t see — flips him off. The gesture is sufficiently rude enough to set off Danny’s already-lit fuse, and with a quiet “Fuck this,” he pulls out of his parking space with a vengeance. The chase is on.
“Danny is a character who is very much stuck in his ways,” creator and showrunner Lee Sung Jin tells Variety. “He’s stuck in the past. He’s got a chip on his shoulder. The way he views reality is very much blurred by his own insecurities and by his own projections.”
The two cars weave in and out of traffic, dodging incoming vehicles and running red lights. Eventually the white Mercedes leads Danny’s pickup onto a residential street. A drink flies out of the Benz’s window, landing on his windshield.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” he yells. “Show your fucking face!”
The chase comes to a head when the Mercedes becomes boxed in at a four-way stop sign with two other cars attempting to cross the intersection. In a dramatic attempt to head off his nemesis, Danny drives across a carefully cultivated suburban front yard, the wheels of his truck trampling plants in the process, and manages to block the Mercedes as it tries to turn right. Amy — whose face still hasn’t been revealed — backs up onto the front yard and runs over another plant, then begins driving in the opposite direction. It appears that the Mercedes is removing itself from the situation until the car stops and accelerates backwards, aiming directly at Danny sitting helplessly in the driver’s seat.
Danny throws up his hands and braces for impact, but the Mercedes stops right before it hits his truck. With as much self-assurance as a vehicle can muster, the Mercedes drives away — but not before Danny has memorized its license plate.
It’s only the final shot of the scene that reveals that Ali Wong’s Amy was at the wheel of the Mercedes.
Lee — speaking with Variety, ironically, while driving — says that the scene was loosely based on his own real-life road rage situation. “I projected a lot of things onto this other person. That’s partly why in the scene, we didn’t want to introduce Amy right away, wanting to play with this idea, this nameless, faceless blank slate that Danny’s character can project a lot of things onto, which will come into play later in the episode.”
He notes that Amy’s white Mercedes in the scene represents Danny’s “white whale,” referring to the symbol of intense obsession that harkens back to Herman Melville’s 1851 “Moby Dick.” The obsession sparked by that incident propels Danny’s character arc forward, fueling the chain of unlikely events that draws him and Amy back to each other. It gradually becomes evident that the anger the two share masks even deeper, more existential longings.
Even though “Beef” is a comedy, Lee says that he wants audiences to know that it’s “more than just a road rage show.”
“We wanted to tap into deeper themes of isolation and separateness, why things are the way they are, why is there suffering,” he says. “I hope the audience can tell from the trailer, from the scene, that there’s something more going on than your average revenge show.”
“Beef” premieres at SXSW on March 18 and drops on Netflix on April 6. Watch the exclusive clip below: