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Is 'Beef' based on a true story? Netflix show's creator says ... kind of

Showrunner Lee Sung Jin says it was a “typical” interaction — “honking, cursing at me and then drove off.”
/ Source: TODAY

Everyone who has ever had to drive a car knows that the biggest danger on the roads is other drivers.

Netflix's new comedy-drama limited series, "Beef," takes that truth, and hits the gas on it.

The show's opening premise is a road rage incident in the parking lot of a big box store.

The two lead characters — Amy Lau, played by Ali Wong, and Danny Cho, played by Steven Yeun — go on to misplace their anger and rage at each other following the incident in a series of escalating, sometimes comedic events that eventually destroy their lives as they knew it.

Below, caught up with its creators and stars to get the story behind the show.

'Beef' is based on a real road rage incident

Showrunner Lee Sung Jin tells that he was inspired to create the show based on his own road rage experience.

He says it was a "typical" interaction — "honking, cursing at me and then drove off."

"For some reason," Lee decided to follow the other driver.

"I was like, 'I'll follow you.' I justified it (as) 'I'm commuting home and this person happens to be in front of me and if we go in different directions, I wouldn't follow them.' But we happened to be going the same direction home, for like miles and miles," he recalls, laughing. "It was like 30 to 40 minutes. So I'm sure in his mind ... it felt like I was just a wild lunatic stalking him."

Ali Wong as Amy in episode 101 of Beef.
Ali Wong as Amy in episode 101 of Beef. Netflix

Lee said that experience that day inspired him to create the show.

"Here we are in our literal bubbles that you drive around in and very much trapped in our subjective realities," he explains. "And so I thought that it'd be fun to explore."

Why do the main characters have such dramatic reactions to the road rage incident?

Lee says he thinks both characters are "trapped" in their own ways.

"I think for a lot of us when when we're stuck in our status quo, usually something have dramatic has to happen to shake us out of it," he says, "Whether positive or negative."

According to Lee, something had to break in their routines to get them to look at what they've swept under the rug for so long.

"I think that's the case with Danny and Amy — they're so entrenched in in their ways that it took this road rage to shake them out of it, and I think it becomes a scapegoat for for a lot of other things going on in their life," he says.

Their cars have a hidden message

Wong's Amy drives a pristine white Mercedes Benz SUV while Yeou's Danny has a much older Toyota Tacoma pickup. Of course, both vehicles objectively make sense for the characters — Amy is an LA mother and entrepreneur who owns a successful, Zen-like plant store while Danny is a struggling contractor — but the cars are also somewhat representative of their characters.

Beef. Steven Yeun as Danny in episode 101 of Beef.
Steven Yeun as Danny in an episode of "Beef."Andrew Cooper / Netflix

Lee says Danny has "a chip on his shoulder" and likely researched which truck was best "a lot" before landing on the reliable Tacoma.

"But he probably couldn't afford a new one. And so he probably has something a little bit dated," he says, noting that Danny's cousin Isaac (played by David Choe) points out in the second episode that he'd "just missed the upgrade by a year, which feels very Danny."