Sorry, But the Sydney & Carmy Slow-Burn Romance in ‘The Bear’ Just Makes Sense

Yeah, I've read the platonic soulmate arguments, but as someone who’s worked in similar kitchens, it’s people like them who fight, become friends, then fuck.

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Sorry, But the Sydney & Carmy Slow-Burn Romance in ‘The Bear’ Just Makes Sense
Photo:Courtesy FX

I am a chronic shipper of the slow-burn showmance. Fran and Mr. Sheffield. Rory and Jess. Eve and Villanelle. You get it. If you count yourself as one too, it’s likely that you’ve already happened upon a TikTok explainer of the current debate as to whether The Bear’s Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto and Sydney Adamu possess a platonic or romantic bond. The internet, it seems, is torn. I, however, am standing squarely with the good folks on the Syd&Carmy 4ever side of the kitchen—even if the actors portraying them are very publicly not.

Last June, when Season 1 premiered, I didn’t see it. Apart from being two intense, ambitious, and ever-so-slightly emotionally walled-off (Carmy more so than Sydney, obviously) chefs, there didn’t seem to be much opportunity for anything beyond friendship, nor did I need there to be. I agreed with the writers. We have enough contrived romance on TV these days! But now that Season 2 is over? I’m thinking they make as much sense as a savory cannoli with a mortadella mousse. My fork is poised.

Don’t get me wrong, The Bear is as good as it is because of the rare, heartfelt relationship among the entire kitchen staff. I mean, Tina’s equal parts tough and tender care for her colleagues gives me goosebumps with every concerned mom glance and cute endearment. But there’s something different about the way Carmy and Sydney interact with each other and, in my opinion, it’s called chemistry. It may not be white-hot or overtly romantic right now, but there’s potential. Critics—and certain cast members—won’t admit a possible romantic connection, and to them, I say: Were you watching the same kitchen scenes? How do you explain the stolen glances? Their mutual intolerance for the other’s bullshit? The creative compatibility? Their unspoken—and now, very sweetly signed—communication? Considering the storyline, they’re still new to each other’s lives—but that these two fearful avoidants are as comfortable as they are with each other is no coincidence.

Much has already been written about Carmy’s panic attack in Episode 9, “Omelette”—you know, the one that he gained the upper hand on only after replaying the memory of meeting Sydney in his mind? Later in the same episode, the two have a candid conversation about her needs and his lack of focus on the restaurant, all while they quite literally support each other beneath a wobbly table. It’s this scene, specifically, that’s become the subject of ardent fan fodder. In fact, it’s garnered so much speculation that even Jeremy Allen White commented on it.

“There’s admiration and I think and I hope that even in platonic relationships, you are able to say things like, ‘I need you,’” he told Variety of Carmy and Sydney’s relationship. “When they speak to each other under the table in episode nine, it’s such a beautiful scene, and it is a scene about partnership, but not a romantic partner.” Sure! Then tell me why Sydney apologizes about maybe seeming like she’s jealous of Carmy’s new girlfriend when not a single character has accused—or even suspected—her of such. Also, I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve never called in a favor from a very famous friend to have a personalized, and what I can presume was a very expensive, gift made for just any platonic partner…

OK, so Carmy and Sydney share a commitment to their craft that borders on unhealthy and it would likely benefit them to meet someone outside of their industry. But on the other hand, their passion for what they do is so inextricable from their identities that any relationship—even a healthy one like poor Claire was offering—is destined to feel like a distraction and damn it from the outset. Even Vulture recently noted, Carmy and Sydney already have the perfect workplace romance though they just haven’t realized it. It would make perfect sense to me if the next few seasons reflect that the only viable way for these two to experience romantic love is if it’s, well, in the kitchen.

Which brings me to Marcus. I’m aware that Marcus is a sweetheart who deserves a truly good, totally healthy romance of his own. But I’m also aware that Sydney refers to him as “dude” and, per their last exchange in the season finale, friend-zoned him. It’s not his fault. There’s something about a guy with kind eyes, a lot of feelings, and a love of baking who always wears a beanie that gives “man you know you should be attracted to but just aren’t.”

Of course, there’s a chance I’m wrong and next season we’ll watch Carmy calling Claire to make things right and learn that the actual slow-burn is Sydney and Marcus. Frankly, though, the material is—very subtly—saying otherwise. And come to think of it, that might just explain why the writers have adamantly continued to insist that we won’t see a SydCarmy romance. Why give away a compelling arc?

If I sound like a conspiracy theorist, you’re probably right. For the record, I empathize with skeptics’ concerns. I, too, shudder to think of The Bear becoming something akin to Grey’s Anatomy—its whip-smart writing and fully realized characters getting tempered by trite, “pick me, choose me, love me,” diatribes. But this is a show about a restaurant—a new, now sexy, one—run by humans who aren’t always adept at managing their personal lives. As someone who spent ages 15-22 working in comparable kitchens, I can confirm it’s people like Carmy and Sydney who fight, become friends, then fuck. It’s just the natural order when one spends that much time at work. And when you’re constantly beside people you actually like and respect? A kiss in the walk-in or on a smoke break—at the very least—is inevitable.

Regardless of whether it’s platonic or romantic, we can all agree there’s a certain spark between these two. Is it a long-term romance? I’m game! Would it be a mistake? Maybe! Would I like to find out either way? Yes, chef.

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