Why Is Amy Lau So Unhappy Throughout ‘Beef’ Season 1?  


Amy Lau has not been an easy person to watch on “Beef” Season 1. Unlike Danny, whose motivations and character growth are easily comprehensible, Amy has been a bit more complicated. We knew that she had depression, and despite the insinuation that it started around her time as a teenager, we believe that it was always there. Mental health issues are more often than not generational, and Amy talks about how her parents came to the US after having witnessed the Vietnam War up close. That kind of thing leaves an effect on even the strongest minds, which is bound to pass down through generations.

Amy Lau had never been happy and growing up with parents who constantly fought with each other and refused to communicate with her must have meant she had no way of understanding what was happening to her. She had heard her father saying that children are expensive, implying that he had never wanted Amy’s birth. Her mother had replied that they never had a choice, which meant that under different circumstances, she might have chosen to be childless or have a child at a different time, all of which meant that Amy was an inconvenience. Add that to the fact that Amy Lau had caught her father cheating, which, to an impressionable mind, means that he probably never loved his wife. Therefore, if Amy’s father did not want Amy and he did not love his wife, what was his purpose for being in the family? Duty, perhaps. Additionally, Amy thought that even her mother did not want her, and from the fights she heard, she realized that she might be unhappy in the marriage. Then why was she with her husband? Duty, again. Duty towards a child that neither wanted, but both had to take care of since they brought her into the world. This is a situation the children of unhappy parents often find themselves in. If only Amy’s parents had communicated with her that they loved her, she might have been a different person.

We can say that Amy Lau never really learned to love herself, and that is why she did not want to have children so that she would not pass on her unhappiness to the next generation. However, she met George, and in Amy’s own words, he was everything she was not. George is a “happy” person, and as an audience, we realize that his positivity is toxic. He has never really faced any challenges in his life, as he grew up rich with parents that adored him and gave him the world. George did have a desire to make something of himself, but he barely ever put himself out there. If he had, he might have been able to work on his art enough to actually make it saleable. Instead, he relied completely on Amy to run the house.

George pulled his weight by being a stay-at-home dad and taking care of Amy and June the best he could, but as much as he tried to be there for Amy, he was never able to understand her. Whenever she tried to talk to him about her depression, he just shut her down with a monologue on positivity, never noticing that it was pushing Amy more to the edge than it was helping her. Amy was working so hard at her job, not just because she wanted and needed money but because she wanted to give George and June a certain lifestyle so that they wouldn’t be able to leave her. She had convinced herself that she was unlovable, and that is why she attached her value to her work and extended that to her personal life. The workload, her inability to express herself, and the constant fear that a single slip-up of her true self could cost her everything had led to a lot of feelings that never found a healthy expression. This is what led her to angrily flip off Danny in the parking lot, a completely unnecessary reaction that made her feel something for the first time in a while. Amy had built a life based on being agreeable, even when all she wanted to do was scream. Therefore, whenever she fought with Danny, she actually got to let out those feelings, and those were the only times we saw her smile in the series.

Amy Lau was a truly sad character because her sadness was just based on the conditional nature of love. She felt that her parents hadn’t loved her, and she always thought that her husband wouldn’t love her if she did not work so hard to give him the life of comfort that she did. Even her child, June, whom she loved with all of her heart, unlike what her own parents had done for her, did not love Amy as unconditionally as she thought. The love of kids is based on security and familiarity, and Amy provided those, but she still felt that she was falling short.

It is one thing to say that we must love ourselves, but when, despite our best efforts, we are alone in our love for ourselves, it makes us question whether there is anything to love at all or if it is just us clutching at straws. And that is where meeting Danny made a difference for Amy Lau. All we need to do sometimes is verbalize what we are thinking, whether they are good thoughts or bad, and the weight of them starts disappearing. For all of her beef with Danny, he was the only person she had been able to tell her innermost feelings to and, in the process, find the validation for them that had been missing so far. Amy was still not sure if she was loveable, but she had a friend now, and she was ready to stand by him through thick and thin.

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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