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Review: Raw

Keith Higgons

Posted on January 30, 2019 09:47

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All five seasons of Irish television series on Amazon Prime.

One of the perks to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon is that they must rely on other countries for content in order to keep their schedules fresh. In this case, Amazon has an Irish television series about a Dublin restaurant, Raw. Raw is a scripted show, and it's also the name of the restaurant.

It's worth noting that Raw ran for five seasons from 2008-2013 for a total of 30 episodes. So, while not “new”, it falls into that "new to us" category.

If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, you may have found yourself scratching your head as to why capturing that dynamic and dramatic environment has been so elusive in both film and television.

Now, admittedly, I’m biased. I have about ten years of working in the restaurant business doing both front of the house (waiting tables) and back of the house (kitchen stuff) and my experience was nothing like Cheers or Hell's Kitchen (or whatever chef show is popular now).

To say I approached Raw a little apprehensively would be an understatement.

In the first episode, I noticed that Raw captured the camaraderie, the fun, the sex, the drinking and the very deep-rooted dysfunction that permeated the business as I knew it (I doubt it's changed). And Raw captures it very well.

Setting aside any Guinness and Shepherd's Pie stereotypes you may have, Raw is a show about a modern restaurant that serves modern food. And like many restaurants, it’s staffed with 20-somethings stumbling into, and around, adulthood . . . and dealing with modern issues.

The first six episodes of Raw are typical of the first season of any good show. It’s well written, well performed, and captures something universal. In this case, the power of relationships. Like the business itself, Raw gets under your skin.

If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, you’ll recognize the characters that circulate through the 30 episodes. Even if you haven’t, I’d bet that you know a Geoff, a JoJo, a Bobby, a Mal, a Tanya, a Kate, a Dylan, etc.

Aside from the maladjusted elements of the restaurant business that Raw shows, it dips its toe into social issues. The precariousness of the business is seen throughout the series, the Irish recession is mentioned in seasons 4 and 5 and a running story throughout the 30 episodes is the very modern relationship between head chef Geoff and front of the house manager Pavel. I’ve always thought Ireland to be conservatively Catholic, so I was surprised that Raw depicted such an honest and real relationship between two men (TV real anyway).

To the show's benefit, its portrayal of all relationships, across all demographics, rings true.

Raw’s faults are that it’s very white and very bougie. Sadly, that’s not unlike the industry itself. And later episodes tend to slip into MTV and Aaron Spelling territory.

But at its core, Raw is less about a restaurant and more about relationships and life . . . and sometimes those can be, well, raw.  

Keith Higgons

Posted on January 30, 2019 09:47

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Source: GameSpot

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