This Netflix show begs you not to give in to your road rage

For this week’s column, I thought I was going to write about the state of the Philippine car industry. But since I was not able to set foot (literally) at the 2023 Manila International Auto Show because of a painful gout attack on my right leg, I’ve decided to discuss what I did last week—I finished the hottest show on Netflix right now, Beef. It’s a 10-episode series whose marketing blurb should give you an idea about the story (“Revenge is best served raw”). No, it’s not a culinary show starring a pair of Asian stars (Steven Yeun and Ali Wong). It is so watchable that you could finish the bite-size episodes (just 30-40 minutes long) in one sitting.

The plot is fairly simple. It officially kicks off in a parking lot, where the main protagonists find themselves almost getting involved in a fender-bender. The characters could have left the harmless scene were it not for one’s unceasing honking (and flipping the bird) and another’s hotheaded desire to get even. A lunatic car chase ensues, and a crazy narrative unfolds.

Many of us often get the urge to launch ourselves onto the warpath while driving. The road never runs out of supply when it comes to moronic individuals: the kamote motorcyclist, the bully SUV driver, the ignorant bus driver, the reckless jeepney driver, the jempoy cyclist, the wayward pedestrian. And because our ego almost gets bruised in these encounters, we want to show the other party that they chose the wrong person to “mess with” (like being delayed for five seconds is worth fighting for).

Most of the time, we get away with just raising our voice. But sometimes things escalate to insane levels (see the 2009 Jason Ivler road rage case), and before we know it, we have no idea what just hit us. Which is what happens in Beef. From a simple parking-lot near miss, the paths of Danny Cho and Amy Lau get so intertwined that they end up stalking each other; spray-painting the other’s vehicle; having an affair with the other’s brother; committing crimes; blackmailing; destroying a marriage; and indirectly contributing to the deaths of other people. All of these are the result of an unreasonably strong yearning to “settle” a score.

In the last episode, when the main characters have lost everything (family, career, reputation), they realize that they are stupid to allow themselves to be dragged by a small parking-lot incident. They ask each other questions that are too late to be answered after the fact.

“Why did you make me do that?”

“You ruined my life. Next time someone honks at you, maybe let it go.”

“Maybe next time, think twice before you honk.”

“Why are you angry all the time?”

Operating a motor vehicle is a tricky task. If we’re not careful, we could pay for so much more than a paint scratch. Like damaging our good name. Imagine losing our mind over a parking slot and screaming our lungs out only to be captured by video and shared on social media? That’s no longer Netflix, mind you. That’s real life. Every day, I see dozens of motoring-related footage submitted to us by our readers at Visor. We get requests from offending parties to take down embarrassing videos.

My advice? Start accepting the fact that the universe doesn’t revolve around you. You’ll smile more and frown less when you realize that there’s no point in choosing violence over peace, immaturity over wisdom, pride over humility. Think about this before you hit the road.

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FILL YOUR TANK: “Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:9)

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