[Editor’s Note: The following story contains spoilers for “Beef.”]
“Beef” was supposed to have an even more charred climax, according to series creator Lee Sung Jin.
Lee revealed that Netflix and A24 encouraged him to tone down the slated fatal Episode 9 when the feud between Danny (Steven Yeun) and Amy (Ali Wong) culminates in two people being shot to death.
“I knew that I wanted everything to hit the fan,” Lee told Newsweek. “We’d been stretching this rubber band for eight episodes now, I knew I needed the thing to snap.”
However, the original slated climax was “even crazier, with so many more deaths” until Netflix urged him to reconsider.
“But it was too much, and Netflix and A24, rightfully, were like, ‘You OK?’ And so we brought it back,” Lee added. “Then in writing it I started to focus less on everything hitting the fan and more on character. Like, what is it ultimately heading towards? And it is really ultimately about, on Danny’s side, his relationship with his brother, on Amy’s side, her relationship with [her husband] George. And so in writing I really tried to hone in on what was the end emotional place I wanted them before we get them together in the finale.”
The “Tuca & Bertie” writer added, “It was fun to write, it’s definitely a departure tonally, and it wouldn’t have worked without the excellent direction of Jake Schreier. You write something like that and you’re like ‘enough, it’s not going to work’ and then his direction and the cinematography of our DP really helped ground some of the craziness and made it feel true to this world.”
Lee credited lead stars Wong and Yeun for helping craft the more tender final moment in the series, as seen in Episode 10.
“The hospital bed moment, we came up with, me, Steven, Ali and A24, before we even pitched it to buyers,” Lee said. “My pitch presentations are pretty involved and I pitch the whole season, and so I had to figure out an ending for the pitch and Ali actually came up with the idea of two people crawling into into bed together. Something very poetic and simple and minimalist about it that says a lot, and so, you know, credit to her she kind of came up with the initial idea.”
During the 2023 SXSW premiere for the Netflix series, Wong revealed that the show “took a toll” on a physical level.
“Steven and I both broke out in hives after the show,” Wong said. “Mine was on my face. His was all over his body because he’s weak like that. It definitely took a toll on us, but we didn’t even realize until after the show ended. I mean, I won’t even talk about what happened to [Yeun’s] elbow. If we knew what we were going to put our bodies and minds through, maybe we wouldn’t have said yes, but we’re really glad we did.”