Is Beef on Netflix based on a true story?

netflix beef steven yeunNetflix

Netflix’s latest TV offering Beef centers on one of the most relatable battles an adult can have: road rage – so, is the conflict set out in the show based on a true story? Read on to find out the real-life inspiration behind Beef. 

While the 10-episode series is set in the aftermath of a road rage incident, what really takes center stage in Beef is the pressure placed on each character from both society and their loved ones. 

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What results is what Netflix describes as a “darkly comedic and deeply moving series,” one that is both “completely unpredictable” and yet “deeply personal in surprising ways.”

This is thanks, in part, to the standout performances from the lead actors Ali Wong and Steven Yeun, as well as the rest of the cast including Joseph Lee, Young Mazino, David Choe, and Patti Yasutake. But there’s also another reason why Beef feels so “deeply personal,” according to showrunner Lee Sung Jin.

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Is Netflix’s Beef based on a true story?

Yes… kind of. Although Beef is fictional, it’s been inspired by real-life events in more ways than one.

On the topic of the road rage angle, Jin said: “The idea was loosely based on a road rage incident that actually happened to me. Someone went off on me and for some reason that day, I did not use sound judgment and impulsively decided to follow this person.”

As is often the case with these incidents, Jin “didn’t really have a set plan” – he just “wanted him to feel fear and let him know that it’s not okay” to treat people that way. “But things went awry – certainly not like they do in the show – and what happened that afternoon ended up inspiring Beef,” he added.

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Alongside Jin’s dicey driving moment, the Netflix show’s script was a collaborative effort made up of anecdotes from those involved.

“Once the writer’s room opened up and we brought in all these great people, we didn’t spend a lot of time trying to write the scripts per se,” he explained. “We spent a huge chunk of time just gathering personal stories, anecdotes, and observations about people in our lives.

“I think that’s what makes the show feel very specific while being universal – if you draw from something real, you really can’t top that as a writer. Someone will tell a story about their best friend or their ex-boyfriend, and then that’ll just get the snowball going of all our stories.”

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Jin continued: “A lot of rooms I’ve been in historically haven’t had a lot of Asian Americans in it, but our show did, so I think that’s why so many of the specificities – of church, of the Danny-Paul dynamic, of the mother-in-law – feel so real.”

So, it’s safe to say, while Beef takes a lot of inspiration from real-life events, it’s more of a hodgepodge of different stories with creative flourishes thrown in, which is the case for so many great tales.

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Beef lands on Netflix on 6 April. You can read more about the full cast here and what it’s about here.

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