Feed the Beast, AMC’s new drama about two friends compelled by fate, financial ineptitude, and dramatic necessity to open a restaurant in New York, is a lot of things, but it isn’t afraid of metaphor. There’s its title, for one thing, which contains multitudes (but could also possibly be overworked TV writers making a point). There’s the way scenes are punctuated with close-up shots of flames being ignited. Most of all, there are the show’s parallels between food and addiction: the perpetual sniffing of a coked-up chef versus the exaggerated inhalations of a sommelier, the butcher who doubles as a drug dealer, the sense that being a restaurateur, like being an addict, is something you never recover from.
That it’s not a good show is clear fairly early in the first episode, but it is occasionally an interesting one. Tommy (David Schwimmer) is a widower struggling to raise his son after his wife was killed in a car accident, who’s declined from being an advanced sommelier to an alcoholic wine salesman. Dion (Jim Sturgess) is Tommy’s childhood best friend, a brilliant chef fresh out of jail who’s also a stupidly reckless cocaine addict in trouble with the mob. There are questions the show fails to answer right off the bat: Why does Tommy live in a vast empty warehouse? Why would anyone agree to do anything for or with Dion, a violent lunatic who burned down his last restaurant on purpose? Why is every primary adult character in a show set in the Bronx white? Answers are sacrificed in Feed the Beast’s quest to be 18 different things at once: a Bourdain-esque tale of bad-boy chefs made good, a gritty crime drama, a superhero show, a touching tale of familial reception.