I've never been satisfied with just one helping. I need a second season of Sweetbitter in my life. More, please!
Sweetbitter Season 1 Episode 6 finally shows us the main course of the show and the selection has a lot of blood and bone.
What seemed like a dream come true for Tess, a new group of friends/family, her first bad boy boyfriend, and a best friend whose more cultured than a royal queen, turns out to be filled with depression from the pressures of the city, mixed signals from said bad boy that has a Norman Bates relationship with her so-called best friend, who also happens to see her as an enemy now.
What a day. What a place.
Although it took Sweetbitter a while to get here, the finale hints toward what's under the gilded idea of New York City and everyone in it.
Is this what you wanted?Jake
Simone told her that New York would force her to build her own character, and as the city did this, it showed Tess the true character of those around her as well.
Will is exactly who he said he would be: honest, loyal, and truthful. Even though Tess treated him horribly, he still stuck up for her in front of Howard.
Ari and Heather may seem caustic in the beginning, but they are some of the most genuine people at the restaurant.
Sasha also seems like a hard nut to crack with unshakable confidence, and yet, he's the most sensitive and depressed of the group.
And Howard. Goodness, Howard. Initially, he seems so calm, patient, and positive. Although I'd still describe him with those characteristics, there's a hard edge to him that seems like it could slice through steel.
His scenes throughout the episode seem like he is two seconds from snapping on everyone and everything, but he still remains all control.
The scene, in particular, between Howard and Simone, while they decide Tess's fate, had me on the edge of my seat. Don't tell me I was the only one.
You could sense so many things concurrently happening in the static air of the room. Their dialogue is nothing and everything at the same time, and that's the point: they never say exactly what they mean and yet you understand everything that is going on anyway.
You can tell Simone and Howard have a deep respect for one another. You can tell their friendship has lasted as long as their respect; although, it may seem their recent romantic transgressions may have affected that respect a bit.
Both are pure control and they thrive off of the control that they have over others and themselves. However, there's a coldness to Howard's control that seems as if it could trump Simone's any day.
Simone basically blackmails Howard into keeping Jake on the restaurant team, while Howard seems to have asked Tess to stay to rile up Simone's feathers after Simone proved to be jealous of Tess's praise.
However, even in that, it's hard to narrow down Howard's decision because I always had a tingling feeling Tess reminded him of his wife, which Howard brings up after he voices his disagreement with Simone dating a soigné guest and Simone fires back by reminding him of Becky.
Because of this juxtaposition, I also wouldn't be surprised if Simone and Howard may have a romantic past.
Not because I think everyone at work sleep with one another, but because their chemistry sparks through the room with every quip and because hearing Tess's praise, if she is similar to Howard's wife, might have struck a cord with Simone in more ways than one.
Simone and Howard in a room; that's a show all by itself.
Speaking of layered interactions and relationships, can we circle back to the core threesome: Simone, Jake, and Tess?
With all of Simone's culture and fun facts, she's a great server, but she doesn't have very many friends. It's as if she has a hard time connecting with people because she doesn't want them to see her as anything other than perfect.
We brought you something; it’s lavender from the Cape. Sometimes, when I know I have a challenging day, I like to stash it in my bra.Simone
Contrastingly, Tess can easily connect with others by simply being genuine. She doesn't have to put on a facade of superiority to get people to be interested in her, nor does she have to manipulate them into needing her in their lives.
This difference leads to the idea I touch on in my review of Sweetbitter Season 1 Episode 4, "Simone's," where I point out that Simone may prey on people without mothers.
The scene between Simone and Jake in the cellar reaffirms this idea. I don't mean her manipulating Jake into apologizing because Jake should've definitely apologized for telling a practical stranger a dark secret like that.
However, I am talking about her manipulation of reminding him that he needs her.
Simone: I’ve been carrying you since you were 8 years old. What’re you trying to do, huh? You trying to punish me? I know you. No one else will ever know you the way that I do.
Jake: I know.
Simone: I forgive you.
She sees Tess as a threat because she sees the control she has over Jake slipping when Tess is involved, so she masterfully reminds him that she's the benevolent woman that will always love him for him.
After this, Jake is right back on her leash, and that's how Simone likes it. She needs to feel needed and envied.
This scene also expands the scope of the idea that Simone seeks people without mothers by adding nuance.
It doesn't seem like Simone does this to be vindictive; More so, she does this because she needs these dynamics just as much as she makes other people think they need it in a sad and insecure way instead of a predatory and nefarious way.
It also makes me wonder even more what her childhood with Jake was like -- what secrets are hidden at the Cape, and how could they bring to light the secrets in New York?
We can't seem to crack Simone and Jake as easily as the rest of the restaurant crew. If we're being honest, I'm thankful it's not easy to understand them or what they want with Tess.
Jake: Why do you think about me all the time?
Simone: Why do you think about me all the time?
Those two as characters and the sexual tension between all 3 of them, Simone, Jake, and Tess, has the biggest allure of the show, even though it wouldn't be the same without everyone else in the restaurant crew filling it with their loud characterizations and shocking moments.
By the end of the season, it becomes clear how important each character is to Tess's story, and this is further supported as we begin to see these shifts and underlying characteristics thanks to our voyeur, Tess, whose wide eyes can see every little detail.
I hope that story-telling technique doesn't disappear now that Tess has come into herself a bit, signaled by Simone finally calling her by her name instead of us hearing someone's nickname for her.
Actually, I hope it has the opposite effect.
Because Tess now has more of a personality to filter their comments and her relationships with everyone else will deepen because of it, we should be able to glean more information from each character's words and actions.
Another thing I hope the show avoids is one-dimensionally demonizing Simone. It's incredibly easy to turn two women against each other and chalk up their cattiness to jealousy, but the character they've created is so beyond that.
Simone may be jealous, but I hope they keep peeling her personality's layers so we can see why she's jealous and why she feels like she needs to manipulate people to get them to love her.
That warning she gives Tess can be interpreted in multiple ways.
Simone: Oh, since it looks like you’ll be staying with us for a while, I hope you’ll be careful.
Tess: What does that mean?
Simone: The stairs.
Although we assume she casually references the stairs because Tess just fell, she could also be talking about Tess's stares. The fun of hearing the dialogue and not reading it, right?
The last time Tess listened in on Simone's conversation with Serena, we could see that Simone knew she was there the entire time. She simply didn't say anything until she needed an out.
In this same way, Simone could've seen Tess standing there this time, as well, and she simply didn't say anything because she wanted Tess to see her control over Jake.
Maybe she does this as a way to scare her off, or maybe she does this as a way flex her power over him.
We won't get the chance to find out until season 2, will we? Just like we won't know the mystery of what Howard sees in Tess, Howard's history with Simone, the outcome of Sasha's immigrant status, and so much more.
What did you guys think of the first season of Sweetbitter? Did you love it as much as I did? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
If you're not caught up on the series, I'm sure you're 100% confused by now due to the breakneck pacing of Sweetbitter's latest drama. Clear your confusion and treat yourself by watching Sweetbitter online on TV Fanatic!
Candice Horde was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in July 2018.