Brand Voice Analysis of Carmy’s Monologue in The Bear
(for writing nerds)
Ever get so caught up in a TV scene that it sticks with you for a month?
That happened to me with The Bear.
It’s a show on Hulu and I got so drawn in by July’s season finale monologue that I ran a brand voice analysis on it to see what I could find — and I think you’re gonna dig this.
Especially the part about authority.
Now, this breakdown is meaty and I know not everyone will make it through. But if you’re curious about voice on a deeper level, stick with me. You’ll see how I x-ray copy.
And no spoilers here. I won’t reveal anything new about the show.
Now, if you haven’t seen The Bear, it’s about a chef who inherits his brother’s hot dog shop in Chicago and the struggle to keep it open.
The dialogue is gritty — and if this scene I’m breaking down doesn’t win an Emmy, then it’s time to rethink our planet.
I’ll link the clip and transcribe the script below. Heads up that it has some salty language. I point this out because you’re gonna wanna watch with the sound on. (I also recommend subtitles for the double-whammy, but that’s your choice. Either way, the performance is impenetrable.)
This seven-minute single take scene has some of the best dialogue I’ve seen in decades. This packs serious punch, which, as you’ll see in the breakdown, is intriguing because of how simple it appears in script.
Here — go watch it and I’ll break it down after. Don’t speed up the clip! Even if you normally watch at 1.5 or 2x speed, watch this the way it was delivered. Trust me on this.
Gut punch, right? SO GOOD!
OK, here’s the transcript: (Then I’ll explain why some lines are in blue.)
My name’s Carmen.
My, um… my brother’s an addict.
My, my brother was an addict.
And this morning, I, um…
I forgot, um… B-Before I came to Al-Anon, I was a cook.
I mean, I’m-I’m still a cook, I’m just a different kind of cook, I guess.
My brother and I, we would cook a lot together, especially when we were kids.
You know, that’s-that’s when we were closest.
Food was always our common ground.
We wanted to open a restaurant together.
Um, we had a name, we had a vibe, all of it.
My brother could make you feel confident in yourself.
You know, like, when I was a kid, if I was nervous, I was scared, I wouldn’t wanna do something, he’d always tell me to just face it.
You know, get it over with.
He would always say, um… Stupid, he would always say, um… “Let it rip.”
He was loud.
And he was hilarious.
And he had this amazing ability.
He could just, he could walk into a room, and he could take the temperature of it instantly.
You know, he could just, he could dial it.
And, um… I’m not built like that, man.
I, um… I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up.
I had a, a stutter when I was a kid.
I was scared to speak half the time.
And, uh, I got shitty grades ’cause I couldn’t pay attention in school.
I didn’t get into college.
I didn’t have any girlfriends.
I don’t think I’m funny.
I always thought my brother was my best friend. Like, Like, we just knew everything about each other.
Except… everybody thought he was their best friend.
You know, he was that, he was that magnetic.
And, um… I didn’t know my brother was using drugs.
What does that say?
As we got older, I-I realized I didn’t know anything about him… really.
He stopped letting me into the restaurant a couple years ago. He just cut me off cold.
And that, um… that hurt, you know. And I think that just, that flipped a switch in me where I was like, “Okay, f*ck you, watch this.”
And because we had this connection through food and he had made me feel so rejected and lame and shitty and uncool, I-I made this plan where I was gonna go work in all the best restaurants in the world.
You know, like, like, I’m gonna go work in real kitchens.
Like, f*ck Mom and Dad’s piece of shit, right?
And it sounds ridiculous, you know, me saying that now, but that’s-that’s-that’s what I did.
And I got the shit kicked outta me.
And I separated herbs and I shucked oysters and clams and uni.
And I cut myself, and I got garlic and onions and peppers in my fingernails and in my eyes, and my skin was dry and oily at the same time.
I had calluses on my fingers from the knives, and my stomach was f*ckеd, and it was… everything.
And a couple years later, this funny thing happened which is like… for the first time in my life I-I started to find this, uh, this station for myself.
And I was fast.
I wasn’t afraid.
And it was clear, and I-I felt… I felt okay, you know.
I knew which vegetables went together, proteins, temperature, sauces, all that shit.
And when somebody new came into the restaurant to stage, I’d look at them like they were competition, like I’m gonna smoke this mοthеrf*ckеr.
I felt like I could speak through the food, like I could communicate through creativity.
And that kind of confidence, you know, like I was finally… I wa… I was good at something, that was so new, and that was so exciting and I just wanted him to know that and, f*ck, I just wanted him to be like, “Good job!”
And the more he wouldn’t respond, and the more our relationship… kinda strained, the deeper into this I went and the better I got.
And the more people I cut out, the quieter my life got.
And the routine of the kitchen was so… consistent and exacting and busy and hard and alive, and I lost track of time and he died.
And he left me his restaurant.
And over the last couple months I-I’ve been trying to fix it ’cause it was in rough shape, and I think it’s very clear that me trying to fix the restaurant… was me trying to fix whatever was happening with my brother.
And I don’t know, maybe fix the whole family because… that restaurant, it has and it, it does mean a lot to people.
It means a lot to me.
I just don’t know if it ever meant anything to him.
# # #
Eight hundred and seven words of raw, cold, uncomfortable meat… written at a grade 2 reading level.
As for the lines in blue? Those sentences have 15+ words. Everything else is shorter. Chopped. Written like a diced carrot. And although line length can vary between dialogue and written text, 15 words provides a good baseline for our purpose.
OK, now re-read just the lines in blue.
See how it tells the same story, but with a different feel? It’s more confident. More assertive. More “look what I did, motherf-er.” It’s less about the sadness and more about his win despite the pain.
And if we analyze just the blue lines? The grade level jumps up from 2 to 6 — which is a huge lift. (It’s worth noting that if we measure just the black lines, Hemingway drops the rank to Grade zero.)
The average sentence length of the black lines is 7.1 words. Average length of the blue is 23.6 — more than three times longer — even if we strip away the false starts and ums.
The word length in blue jumps from 3.8 to 4.0. Not a huge vocabulary change, but it’s worth noting he uses more restaurant terminology there. The jargon falls naturally into place.
Here’s where it gets interesting…
The longer lines and loftier vocabulary appear when Carmen is talking about his strength. They add depth and dynamic and power and grit and anger and spit and gravel and tenacity and cartilage and bone into the piece and it changes both the pathos and the pace. (<<< this sentence has 33 words)
It has a different flavor. (<<< this one has 5)
The cadence conveys confidence.
Now re-read just the black.
It feels like an entirely different piece, doesn’t it?
Long tells the story. Short builds emotion.
The vocabulary, the tone, the cadence — they shift vividly, yet flow seamlessly.
I won’t go deeper into tone here because Jeremy Allen White (the actor) delivered such a powerhouse performance and conveyed emotion through body language, plus the director’s choice to not cut away is an artistic decision no tools can measure. Using AI would cheapen it. But you can feel in those blue lines how the confidence rises, yet the core of the character remains shaken and small.
The tone is metered more by action than adjectives.
It’s all controlled by the cadence. Then flavored by the vocabulary.
Now… do I think the writers consciously measured these details as they wrote? No.
I think it was unconscious competence oozing through their veins.
But do I think this is something you should know as a copywriter so you can shift tones in your copy? Abso-flippin-lutely.
Knowing what causes these feelings means you can create them on command.
This is what makes you a better writer.
I was gonna say “it’s funny what you find when you know what to look for,” but… it’s not. This isn’t a joke. It’s deliberate practice and science.
The Codex Persona voice analysis works — and It’s amazing what you see when you know how to look.
Never trust a skinny chef,
Registration for Brand Voice Visionary (formerly Codex Academy) is opening March 20, 2023 (Our calls begin the week of April 11.) This is where we go even deeper into analyzing copy so you can mirror it and evolve it with scalpel-like precision and see things most other writers never will.
I’ll film my actual breakdown of this scene and put the analysis in that program. If you’re interested in voice, you should check it out and join the waitlist.
This is where you become a different kind of copywriter. This is where you separate yourself from the pack.
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