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The Bear Family Tree: Every Brother, Uncle, Mother & 'Cousin' Explained

Since its 2022 premiere on Hulu, Christopher Storer's comedy-drama "The Bear" has been an enormous hit for both the streamer and every single person involved with the production, winning audiences over with its fast pace, outstanding performances, and beautiful shots of food. The series has been racking up Emmy and Golden Globe wins left and right, with stars Jeremy Allen White, Ebon Moss-Bachrach (who played a Marvel Netflix hero you totally forgot about), and Ayo Edebiri picking up individual trophies for their lead performances alongside the show's wins for best comedy series at both the Emmys and Golden Globes. There's no question that the ensemble cast — all of whom play larger-than-life, often intense characters — is the key to the success of "The Bear." So how do all of the characters on the show know one another? That's actually a relatively complex question.

Even though characters on "The Bear" throw around words like "uncle" and "cousin," not every single person on the series is actually related, but there are distinct ways in which all of the characters are connected. In case you can't figure out who's a "cousin" and who's an actual cousin on "The Bear," here's a breakdown of the family trees and important figures ... with some exceptions. Though Edebiri's Sydney Adamu is a vital part of the show, her family isn't central to the overall narrative; the same is true of other major characters Tina Marrero (Liza Colón-Zayas) and Marcus Brooks (Lionel Boyce), so we won't be delving into their respective lineages here.

The Berzattos are the first family of The Bear and Carmy is the show's prodigal, but troubled, son

"The Bear" follows protagonist Carmen Anthony "Carmy" Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White), a chef who trained in Michelin-starred restaurants before returning to Chicago to take over his late brother's sandwich shop.

Carmy is the youngest of three siblings. To say they experienced a turbulent childhood would be the understatement of the century. Growing up with inattentive, argumentative, and narcissistic parents created an unstable household for Carmy and his siblings; on top of this, the youngest Berzatto grew up with a stutter, something that plagued him throughout his childhood and derailed his attempts at making friends. This led him to consider his more gregarious older brother, Michael (Jon Bernthal), as his sole friend.

When it comes to his culinary craft, Carmy is extremely talented. However, like most members of the Berzatto family, he is his own worst enemy. The character is prone to outbursts, especially against those who don't deserve it (poor Sydney and Marcus) and struggles to process the guilt and trauma of his past throughout the series, leading to an immense and tragic amount of anxiety, depression, and self-loathing.

Natalie 'Sugar' Berzatto, the lovable middle child

Natalie Berzatto (Abby Elliot), one of the best characters in "The Bear" ranked by likability, is the middle child and sister of Carmy and Michael. While she may not display her brothers' innate talent for cooking, she serves as a foundation for their respective business endeavors with her managerial savvy. She is commonly referred to by her seemingly harmless nickname "Sugar," a moniker earned when she once accidentally dumped sugar instead of salt in the family gravy. Since this nickname probably came from her mother, it's very unlikely that it was meant in an affectionate way. However, because Natalie is literally the sweetest character in the whole show, then it's one the character still rightfully deserves.

The middle Berzatto sibling struggles to earn the approval of her family, especially her mother. They frequently look down upon her husband, Pete (Chris Witaske) and her efforts running the business side of things don't exactly get appreciated. Regardless, Natalie's kind-hearted nature must be considered a vital aspect of the show. Without her, "The Bear" would be a hell of a lot drearier. Here's hoping her future child — it's revealed Natalie is pregnant in Season 2 — gets the childhood and life the Berzatto kids never got.

Michael 'Mikey' Berzatto, the eldest brother and emotional core of 'The Bear'

One of the most incredible things "The Bear" has achieved is making Michael "Mikey" Berzatto, the eldest sibling, the heart of the story while only having him appear in a handful of episodes (three to be exact). His continuous struggles with drug addiction and his suicide months before the series takes place propels the entire plot; it's what forces Carmy to come back home and emotionally unravel. Mikey previously declining his younger brother the opportunity to work together is what drove Carmy away in the first place. By the time "The Bear" picks up steam, the elder sibling's failed business outings and the money he owed prior to his death are what raises the stakes for the show's main protagonists and the restaurants they attempt to manage.

Mike's relationship with Carmy — explored beautifully through Jeremy Allen White's incredible monologue in the Season 1 finale and in multiple flashbacks — serves as the show's most potent emotional core. Every action Carmy takes, in one way or another, can be connected back to his brother. Thanks to the show's spectacular writing, and Jon Bernthal's brilliant performance, Mikey's shadow forever looms over "The Bear."

Donna Berzatto, The Bear's chaotic matriarch

Donna Berzatto is the mother of Carmy, Natalie, and Michael. First introduced in the infamous Season 2 episode, "Fishes," and portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis in one of her mightiest performances to date, Donna quickly accomplishes the Herculean task of becoming the most unhinged character in "The Bear."

From just one flashback scene, it's evident that Donna shows serious signs of narcissism, frequently displaying an uncaring attitude to her children's feelings, and a severe allergic reaction to being asked "Are you okay?" She seems to deeply resent Carmy for "leaving" her behind to work in Copenhagen and constantly clamors on how underappreciated she is. To put a fat exclamation mark to this point, "Fishes" sees Donna driving her car into the side of the house at the conclusion of the family's Christmas dinner, a scene that will likely remain the show's most unforgettable scene.

Donna's husband and the children's father is not talked about often, aside from some comments implying that he was not exactly the best parent. Viewers still haven't even learned his name.

Richie and Uncle Jimmy are not related to the Berzattos but are considered family

Despite the fact that Richard "Richie" Jerimovich (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) is constantly referred to as "cousin," particularly by Carmy, he's not related to the Berzattos by blood; he was simply Mikey's best friend before the eldest Berzatto son died. When Carmy moves back to Chicago at the beginning of Season 1, Richie is completely against the idea of working to create a more upscale atmosphere, frequently raging at Carmy about changes to The Original Beef of Chicagoland, Mikey's old shop. During Season 2, though, Richie undergoes a transformation in the seventh episode, "Forks," when he stages (or trains) at a high-end restaurant in Chicago and learns that fine dining can be an incredible experience for an upscale restaurant's guests. From there, Richie becomes an indispensable part of "The Bear." Richie is occasionally flanked by his ex-wife Tiffany Jerimovich (Gillian Jacobs) and their daughter Eva (Annabelle Toomey in Season 2).

Then there's Jimmy "Cicero" Kalinowski, called "Uncle" by just about everybody — including Richie and Carmy — who happens to be the main investor in The Bear and a close friend of Carmy's late father. He, Lee, and the deceased Berzatto patriarch once went into business together, but the details feel purposefully murky, as if the audience isn't supposed to quite know what the trio was up to. Cicero is a direct yet sometimes difficult man, but he still is there to lend a hand to the Berzattos as they try to get The Bear up and running.

The Bear has a lot of extended 'family members' floating about

"The Bear" Season 2, Episode 6, "Fishes," introduces viewers to three characters that have some type of relation to the Berzattos. There's cousin Michelle (Sarah Paulson) from New York, probably one of the most level-headed people to orbit the chaotic family. Then, there's her partner Stevie (John Mulaney), who should totally admit that investing in baseball cards is actually a fantastic idea. 

Lastly, there's Uncle Lee Lane (Bob Odenkirk, who had high praise for his guest appearance on "The Bear"), Donna's kind of sorta boyfriend. While the series mentions that Lee had some type of business connections to Carmy's father, his relationship with the Berzatto family is never fully explained. In the character's sole appearance, viewers quickly learn that he's not exactly on good terms with Donna's children, especially Mike, with the two nearly coming to blows in "Fishes." Like Donna being allergic to being a semi-decent human being, Lee also has a severe and unfortunate aversion to forks.

Of course, one can't talk about the "other" family members without bringing up Pete, Natalie's husband and the personal Berzatto punching bag. Just let the man enjoy his tuna casserole, sheesh. 

The Faks are close friends of the family

Surrounding the Berzattos and Jerimoviches is the Fak family, primarily made up of Neil (Matty Matheson), who's known Carmy and his siblings since they were all young, and his brother Theodore (Ricky Staffieri). Theodore isn't on-screen as much — though he's an erstwhile mechanic for The Bear as it prepares to open — but Neil is an integral part of the entire operation, working as an overall handyman for the restaurant. (It's also worth noting that Matheson is a chef in real life who operates Prime Seafood Palace in Toronto, frequently working out of the Canadian city.) 

While the Berzattos may be the show's one true royal family, the series just wouldn't be the same without the Faks. Fans can only hope they get to see more and more of the family and the shenanigans they bring; here's hoping viewers can soon learn just what Francine Fak did!

The first two award-winning seasons of "The Bear" are streaming on Hulu now. The next season begins streaming June 27, 2024, and it's one of Xoop's most anticipated TV shows of the year.