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The Bear’s Sydney and Carmy Show The Intimacy Of The In-Between

7 min read
Sydney and Carmy from The Bear. They both stare at coffee cups in their hands

Image Courtesy of Disney+ UK

is back open for business! With the new season out on Disney+ globally this week, fans are excited to get back in the kitchen, and see what's next for our chefs. Since its debut in 2022, the show has become a global phenomenon, winning over critics and the general public alike and winning awards aplenty. With Season 3 now here, one question has been on many fans' minds — will something finally happen romantically between Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) and Carmy (Jeremy Allen White)? 

That question may come as a surprise to some viewers, given that the show has never explicitly hinted at romance between the pair, even introducing a romantic interest for Carmy in Season 2 (Claire, played by Molly Gordon), and creating a subplot in which Marcus (Lionel Boyce) develops feelings for Sydney. However, within the online fandom, the story is different: TikTok and YouTube are full of fan edits dedicated to the pair and deep dives into their relationship, lovingly dubbed ‘SydCarmy'. With recent dating rumours surrounding Jeremy Allen White and Ayo Edebiri, as well as the marketing team using billboard photos of the pair to promote season 3, the shippers have only felt more emboldened, despite the cast's constant assertions otherwise.

Even the showrunners have found themselves split on the issue. Joanna Calo, co-showrunner, said in a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter: “I will say, at one point, very early on, I was like, “Maybe they do hook up.” And Chris [Storer, who created the show] was like, “No!” (Laughs.) And he was totally right, but I think what I was getting at was that these relationships are complicated. I've heard people use the term “work wife” ­— there are relationships in our lives that have all different meanings, and we sometimes really rush to characterise everything very cleanly and there's something beautiful about acknowledging how messy our lives really are and just how enmeshed so many of our relationships are.

As for Storer's opinion, as Calo suggests, he has been adamantly against romantic framing from the start. In a 2023 interview, he said, “From the beginning, it was like, we should just show people being really good at their jobs and pushing each other. Selfishly, I hadn't seen a show without a romantic plot and was like, that could be kind of cool and interesting.” He also added, “We wanted to make something that was about friendship and a partnership.”

Some of us find ourselves scared for Sydney and Carmy's relationship to change from what it is now. As fans we all want to see each of these character dynamics grow and develop; it's the factor that makes The Bear relatable. However, this doesn't necessarily have to be a shift into the romantic realm. It is easy to see what shippers find romantic in certain scenes between the pair, but the creators are fair in that there is a complexity and nuance in them existing in this partnership.

Potentially, Sydney and Carmy's relationship exists in a liminal space somewhere between platonic and romantic, and that it's all the more interesting for it. In fact, it is in this space, where they have the freedom to both encourage and challenge each other, without the restraints of romantic entanglement, that allows them to have the deep emotional intimacy that they share. 

 

Regardless of their position on ‘SydCarmy', no viewer is denying the chemistry there. Whether it's Jeremy Allen White's piercing blue eyes observing Sydney as she cooks, or the way they understand each other's vision for the restaurant, or even Sydney's jealousy in having to share Carmy's time and attention with Claire, these two exist on a level that feels different from most male-female friendships portrayed on television. 

Their passion for cooking and creating good food for their community is what keeps them united, even when their own guardedness prevents them from fully letting the other in. Their shared goals are central to The Bear, both the restaurant and the show itself, because the narrative has shown us consistently that they need each other to fulfil their full potential. Carmy's chaos needs Sydney's structure to get the place up and running, even if it's just encouraging him in the art of delegation. Sydney needs Carmy's culinary experience and expertise to refine her cooking, but also needs the way he pushes her to be better and to believe that she can do it. The Season 3 trailer suggests that this will continue, as it shows Carmy offer Sydney a partnership agreement for the restaurant: “so that you can push me, and I can push you.” They are partners in this business, but for both of them, the business so quickly becomes their life. 

Both of them have an unhealthy attitude to their work: for Carmy, he uses it as a distraction from his trauma, and as such, his prioritisation of it becomes his excuse to self-sabotage in other areas of his life. Meanwhile for Sydney, her ambition is singular, to achieve a Michelin star — her prior failures only make her want it more. In this prioritisation of their work, it means that their codependent relationship can often spill out into their life outside of the restaurant, further blurring the line between colleagues, friends, and something more. That being said, the workplace environment itself is a huge facilitator of this sort of relationship. 

As Calo pointed out, the term ‘work wife' (or husband) exists, and it does so for a reason. Our workplace is somewhere we spend the significant majority of our time, and whether the mantra of your work team being ‘family' is healthy, in The Bear, it is very much a truth. In the food service industry, speaking from experience, the amount of relationships that go further than just ‘colleagues' is more than most. In fact, fans of the show even pointed at the lack of hook-ups as one of the most unrealistic things about this kitchen. Maybe part of it is the literal heat of the environment, or perhaps the sheer number of innuendos available to one in a kitchen. Perhaps it's just a shared experience in a job that is often thankless. However it could also be because food itself is an ultimate love language: an act of service, a gift, a demonstrable knowledge of what another person needs. 

The sharing of food and the act of cooking together is often considered a domestic one, and domesticity in itself, is easily romanticised in our heteronormative culture. It does however, require the two to be on the same page, and for Sydney and Carmy, who so often find themselves at odds, it is when they cook that they see each other most clearly. But love through food doesn't have to be sexual: in Season 2, there's an episode where Sydney cooks an omelette for Sugar (Abby Elliot), and later recalls it as the happiest part of her day. 

Another scene that is often romanticised by shippers is a scene in which Carmy has a panic attack, and the only thing that calms him is the thought of Sydney. It is clear in this moment that she is ‘his person', and she represents the stillness that he so needs. What isn't clear is whether there is any attraction in that feeling, or whether it is a platonic peace provided by someone who counteracts him. The concept itself is a deeply romantic one, but the ambiguity of this moment, and of every interaction between the pair, is what makes them so interesting to watch, and such an honest representation of an intimate male-female friendship. Is it romantic or not? Do Sydney and Carmy themselves know how to interpret their own feelings towards each other?

However, were they to know, were they to explore it, their entire dynamic and how it sits within the ensemble of the show would shift. That specific representation they provide would be gone. If we were to be honest, we might no longer be able to associate their situation with my own. We know all too well the bond that forms in a food service environment, how deeply loved you feel when that person makes you the lunch you wanted without you even having to ask for it, to feel in tune with someone as your ingredients come together in the act of creation in a kitchen. However, we also know what it is to deeply feel the frustration, confusion, but also slight thrill, of sitting in the platonic-romantic in-between, to not know what the relationship is, yet to revel in the closeness and intimacy of whatever it may be. 

For those who want to interpret it as romantic, there could be plenty of moments in the new season to continue that line of thought. For those who see it as a platonic familial closeness, there might also be plenty of textual evidence for that. As long as Sydney and Carmy sit in that intimate in-between, that thing we can't really label or put our finger on, they will continue to be one of the strongest friendships, realistic partnerships, and most interesting dynamics in television today. 

The Bear Season 3 premieres globally 27 June. Seasons 1 and 2 are available to stream now on Disney+.