The 7 Most Stressful Episodes of The Bear, Ranked

FX’s hit series The Bear is many things: critically acclaimed, award winning, perfectly cast, and a bonafide discourse starter. It’s also one of the most anxiety-inducing series to ever air on television. The Bear’s binge-ability varies depending on how much internal stress you as a viewer can take, but when you’re indulging in a show that encompasses the lasting effects of grief, trauma, family, and the hospitality industry, a healthy dose of internal unease is almost always on the menu.

In honor of the streaming release of the series’s third season, we’ve ranked what we believe to the seven most stressful episodes of The Bear. These episodes might serve as 40-minute (or more!) capsules of chaos, but they also provide insight into the myriad of emotions that permeate The Bear’s first three seasons. Each one offers lessons on life, love, and letting go—with the occasional screaming match or accidental stabbing thrown in the mix. Caution: Spoilers ahead.

7. Season 3, Episode 2: Next

the bear

FX/Hulu

The restaurant The Bear has managed to achieve the impossible—it’s open for business as a functioning establishment. So naturally Chef Carmy wants to take everything that has worked so far and throw it out the window. Still deeply triggered by what transpired inside of the walk-in refrigerator on the The Bear’s first night of service, Carmy is chasing perfection along with a Michelin star. Because of this, he informs the team that they will be executing a completely new menu from scratch every single night. We’ll let you imagine for yourselves how well that pans out.

6. Season 1, Episode 8: Braciole

the bear

Photo: Matt Dinerstein

What could go wrong when The Beef hosts a bachelor party? The answer, of course, is everything. Strapped for cash and owing a favor to his uncle, Carmy agrees to entertain a bunch of Chicago bros at the restaurant in order to start paying back the massive amount of debt his brother accrued while running the sandwich shop. Given the presence of booze, strippers, and cocaine, perhaps it’s no surprise when a fight breaks out between Richie and one of the guests. In the end, Cousin ends up in jail—but he’s only charged with aggravated assault. Hooray?

5. Season 3, Episode 6: Napkins

the bear

FX/Hulu

In one of Season 3’s most moving episodes, viewers witness Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas) navigate providing for her family after an unexpected layoff, years before joining the team at The Beef. It’s a sublime 40 minutes of television (expertly directed by fellow cast member Ayo Edibiri) that showcases Tina’s rarely-seen vulnerable side and offers deeper insight into why she’s so protective of The Beef and the legacy of its original owner, Mikey. The scenes of Tina eagerly dropping off her resume over and over again, only to face the reality of the modern job market for women like her, are enough to make anyone’s heart break.

4. Season 3, Episode 8: Ice Chips

the bear

FX/Hulu

This episode was made for all the girls with mommy issues. In Season 3, Episode 8, Natalie “Sugar” Berzatto is alone—and in labor. When no one from the restaurant answers her frantic calls, she’s forced to bring in the backup she desperately wants to avoid: her mother Donna, played by Jamie Lee Curtis. (This results in one of the series’s best cold-open credit introductions ever). There are almost too many stress-inducing scenarios to count in this episode, including Sugar driving in Chicago traffic while experiencing contractions and Donna offering endless well-meaning but poorly executed word vomit in her attempt to make Sugar feel comfortable, all, of course, combined with the organic anxiety that surrounds first-time childbirth.

3. Season 1, Episode 7: Review

the bear

FX/Hulu

While still attempting to prove herself as a viable (and competent) partner at The Beef, Sydney messes up—big time. When she leaves the online orders portal open overnight, the restaurant is overwhelmed with incoming pickups and has no choice but to power through the chaos. Of course, tensions fly, “fuck you’s” are exchanged, and Richie gets accidentally stabbed. It’s perfect television.

2. Season 2, Episode 10: The Bear

the bear

Chuck Hodes

By the end of Season 2, everything is on the line for the crew at The Bear, the newly-reimagined upscale version of the The Beef. While the staff struggles to keep things moving during the friends-and-family soft opening, everyone is forced to pivot when Chef Carmy gets stuck in the walk-in refrigerator. Missing out on the entirety of such a make-it-or-break-it night for The Bear throws Carmy into an existential tailspin that costs him the respect of some of his staff and, maybe more importantly, his relationship with his girlfriend Claire. What happens in the fridge doesn’t stay in the fridge, apparently.

1. Season 2, Episode 7: Fishes

the bear

Chuck Hodes

All we have to say is Jamie. Lee. Curtis. In 66 minutes that immediately entered the canon of the most brilliant holiday episodes of television of all time, Fishes dissects the inner dysfunctions of the Berzatto family and unlocks the trauma that follows all of the show’s core characters, including Carmy, Sugar, Mikey, Richie, and even lovable Pete. Anyone who’s ever had to tip-toe around family matriarchs for the sake of keeping the peace at Christmas will see themselves in this triumph of an episode that also features cameos from Sarah Paulson and John Mulaney. There’s screaming, there’s crying, there’s spilled red sauce and forks flying, and even a car crash. Buckle up.

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              Bianca Betancourt is the culture editor at HarpersBAZAAR.com, where she covers all things film, TV, music, and more. When she’s not writing, she loves impulsively baking a batch of cookies, re-listening to the same early-2000s pop playlist, and stalking Mariah Carey’s Twitter feed.