Critical Condition: Sweetbitter

Sweetbitter | SoHo2, 8.00 Thursday

☆☆☆ “Based on the novel by Stephanie Danler (who also serves as an executive producer and writer), Sweetbitter follows 22-year-old Tess (Ella Purnell) after she spontaneously moves to New York City, alone and without a real plan. Despite being an English major and only having experience in a small coffee shop, she snags a trial basis job training to be a backwaitress at a prestigious Manhattan restaurant. From there, it’s easy to predict what will come next: the booze, the sex, the drugs.” — Variety.

☆☆☆☆ “The charms of this drama about the world of a New York restaurant run deep and they make themselves felt with startling speed … Whether thanks to the absence of [smartphones] or not, there’s no missing the ebullience that courses through this splendidly realised drama of ambition, of workplace ties that bind-that brings it roaring spectacularly to life.” — Wall Street Journal.

☆☆☆☆ “The six-episode first season of Sweetbitter is occasionally pleasant, but impossibly slight and stuck with a real dud of an over-teased central romance … So far, Sweetbitter isn’t a show of bold flavours. It’s pretty tame actually. Other than some salty language, it could almost be a CW show, which I’m betting nobody involved was going for. I like some of the ingredients. Knowing the main course involves a relationship that’s already a dud dampens my enthusiasm to stick around for the whole meal.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

☆☆☆☆ “Passable but nothing special, a low-stakes story with nobody worth rooting for. The ensemble cast — including Paul Sparks (The Night Of; House of Cards) as a demanding manager; Tom Sturridge as a bad-boy bartender; assorted others as misfit waiters and kitchen staff — are forced to serve their lines from an unappealingly predictable menu.” — The Washington Post.

☆☆☆☆ “The series does well with scenes full of noise and people, in the restaurant and the places the workers frequent otherwise. (Chaos is a kind of theme here.) Overlapping dialogue, as in a Robert Altman film, translates a textual quirk of Danler’s novel — little poems composed of overheard conversation — suitably to the screen. Still, after six half-hour courses, it’s like a meal that looks great on the plate but makes little impression on the tongue.” — Los Angeles Times.

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