Love Song for Chicago

Sara Benincasa
12 min readJul 3, 2023

I wish I loved anyone or anything as much as The Bear loves Chicago. It’s the kind of love that feels fully realized and all-encompassing, at once over-the-top and deeply practical.

I did meet a dog this weekend and immediately say, “Oh, I’d take a bullet for you,” so perhaps I’m on my way.

The Bear is creator Christopher Storer’s love song for Chicago, cleverly disguised as a serialized television program now available on FX and Hulu. It’s less a TV show and more a romantic, agonizing mixtape made for somebody you love so much you could really just die over it, and you honestly might, but you don’t exactly know how to proclaim that so, you know, you make them something.

Why did it take me this long to watch a show that garnered its first rapturous rave reviews a year ago? Well, I delay watching stuff sometimes because I know I’ll be all in and not be able to think about much else for a few days afterwards.

Maybe that’s unwell, but you have to know yourself, and sometimes there are Midsommar-themed outdoor birthday parties to attend and costumed dogs to meet. I did that stuff this weekend, but I also got into The Bear. (In its way, Midsommar is also an important story about what happens when one young man can’t get out of the bear.)

Anyway, this is not an essay about the most uplifting rom com of the summer ’19 movie season. This is about The Bear, and Chicago.

Chicago is not an easy city. It’s cold, and it’s tough, even when it’s friendly and loving. People take their clothes off in public as soon as the temperature ascends above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, which can be disconcerting for the casual visitor to behold.

I’ve only been a casual visitor to Chicago, several times, but there’s something about it that burrowed in and never left. It’s the people and their stories, not the place itself, or maybe the people and their stories are the place.

What is it about Chicago? The Bear is only the latest and greatest work of art to make me wonder.

America has so many great cities, we really do. I live in one of them, New York, and I think she’s her own planet, and I’ll never find her less than fascinating. I fucking love Philly, because I love benevolent chaos. Also, do you know how many hot…

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Sara Benincasa

Author, REAL ARTISTS HAVE DAY JOBS & other books. Writer of scripts. Host of WELL, THIS ISN’T NORMAL podcast. Patreon.com/SaraBenincasa