Sydney and Carmy's relationship on The Bear doesn't have to be romantic to be important

“THE BEAR” — “Tomorrow” — Season 3, Episode 1 (Airs Thursday, June 27th) — Pictured: (l-r) Jeremy Allen White as Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto, Ayo Edebiri as Sydney Adamu. CR: FX.
“THE BEAR” — “Tomorrow” — Season 3, Episode 1 (Airs Thursday, June 27th) — Pictured: (l-r) Jeremy Allen White as Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto, Ayo Edebiri as Sydney Adamu. CR: FX. /

Full disclosure, I am into the idea of Sydney Adamu and Carmy Berzatto's relationship becoming romantic in nature down the line on The Bear. However, it doesn’t need to be a romance in order for their bond and partnership to be a worthwhile story about love. 

We prioritize romantic affection so much in real life that when we tune into fictional stories we seek the same sense of fulfillment for the characters we’ve grown to care for. This is especially the case with relationships between men and women on-screen because the leads are often paired up romantically. 

But it should be noted that wanting SydCarmy to be canon isn’t some Pavlonian response. The rise of the ship is due to Jeremy Allen White and Ayo Edebiri’s chemistry. Their characters have an understanding as well as a rhythm in how they interact that people respond to and want to see more of in a romantic context. There’s nothing wrong with that just like there’s nothing wrong with preferring their relationship to stay platonic.

It’s true that some people who dislike the concept of them in a romance only feel this way because they’re unable to see a Black woman as desirable. There are fans of the show hiding behind talking points about how men and women can and should be depicted as platonic soulmates in media when their real issue is that they have no interest in seeing an interracial romance. 

But this is not true for everyone who’d prefer the chefs to remain friends. There’s a valid argument to be made for this preference. The biggest one being that it’s not always the person you fall in love with that makes you better or pushes you to go after what you want. Sometimes, it’s a friend or a peer who grows to become a significant person in your life.

Personally, I have read some of the story beats between them as romantic. For example, Carmy’s panic attack that’s calmed by the mere thought of Sydney. As well as the table scene where they have a soft, open, and honest conversation about their partnership and Sydney’s insecurities. The lighting in that scene and the framing of the shots are as romantic as you can get without truly stepping over the line.

However, there does seem to be this narrative that continues to crop up that doesn’t sit well with me. It’s the idea that somehow their relationship must be romantic in order for it to be important and impactful. As if their partnership in of itself isn’t the love story we’re watching unfold from season to season. Romance is not the end all and be all of our existence nor is it the only way to have a profound, life-changing connection with someone.

It’s clear that each season of The Bear introduces, negotiates, challenges, and then grows Sydney and Carmy’s relationship. They are not equals when the show starts but rather kindred spirits. In the midst of the chaos that was The Beef, Sydney represented familiarity and a lifeline for Carmy. She understood him thanks to her culinary background and was interested in actually listening to his ideas. In her, he found a partner, and the show has been working to get them on equal footing whilst also steadily ridding Sydney of her preconceived notions about who Carmy is as a chef, business owner, and man.

He is doing his best and sometimes that’s not enough but she still chooses to be in this partnership because he believes in her just as much as she believes in him. There’s a give and take to their relationship. They also tend to break each other open in unexpected ways, revealing things to one another that they haven’t shared with others. Much of what fans adore about them is that we’re along for the ride of the two getting to know each other.

We witness their surprise at unearthed details and their reactions which can be funny since they’re both awkward communicators. Believe me, I get why people are so eager to know if the two will get together romantically to the point where it’s often the question asked to both White and Edebiri who keep shutting down the possibility. But, to be frank, their rejection of a potential romance is also due to that so solidly not being the point of Sydney and Carmy’s relationship. And the question being asked interview after interview isn’t going to change that.

The Bear’s writers aren’t sneakily writing a romance and trying to gaslight people out of seeing what’s right in front of their eyes. They’re intent on writing a love story, it just happens to be a platonic one or perhaps one that escapes definition. But any way you slice this pear, the truth of the matter is that Sydney and Carmy’s bond is important to the show no matter how it’s defined. 

If you need a point of reference for this kind of pairing, let me point you in the direction of Joan Watson and Sherlock Holmes from CBS’ Elementary. Undoubtedly, they are (at least to me) the quintessential example of a profound friendship between a man and a woman that’s given the same weight and care as a romance without being romantically involved or written to be romantically ambiguous (that’s Bellamy and Clarke, and let’s just say The 100 writers took fans for a ride with them).

The first season of Elementary is about Joan becoming an apprentice of sorts to Sherlock while she’s his sober companion. She finds his work to be fascinating, and he finds that he’s actually better in the field with her than without her. Their connection develops into a partnership that weathers many a storm and they are indeed soulmates who love each other deeply but not romantically. At every turn the series uplifts that love, centers it, and places value in their bond.

It’s my hope that Sydney and Carmy’s relationship follows a similar course. I'd love a romance but I’m just as happy with what we’ve been given so far. 

Season 3 of The Bear premieres Wednesday, June 26 on Hulu and we’re sure to be brought into a new facet of their story. One that challenges them and tests the strength of their relationship like the show has done since the first season. There’s a partnership agreement on the table, “a grand gesture,” as White referred to it during a press conference. How the two navigate that, as well as Carmy’s sudden obsession with getting a Michelin star, is going to be entertaining and likely thought-provoking and moving as well.

The two capture our attention without being romantic and, while it is a part of the conversation fandom routinely has, just because we want something to happen doesn’t mean that’s the story being told. At least not the one right now and that’s okay. It’s also okay if it never happens. They aren’t written as a “will they-won’t they” relationship. There’s no romantic back and forth, so we're not being cheated out of anything. We’re simply watching their beautiful story unfold and I for one can’t wait to see what happens next.