Man vs. Bee piqued interest among comedy fans as Rowan Atkinson was returning to the visual comedy genre. The Netflix Original’s premise was rather interesting as well. With nine short episodes, one could really get going as the entire series would conclude within 110 minutes.
This Netflix offering’s acting stood out, with Atkinson not disappointing in any way. The sexagenarian held Man vs. Bee together with exactly what his fans have come to expect from him. i.e. an expressive (well, he has made a career out of them) and exaggerated (not over-exaggerated) performance to compensate for the lack of co-actors.
Unfortunately, this series may not make you crave for more, as it could be seen as an unfunny attempt to rehash cartoon gags with a man and a seemingly indestructible member of the Apidae family.
What is Netflix’s Man vs. Bee about?
The title is quite a simple explanation of the Netflix Original. Rowan Atkinson plays house sitter Trevor Bingley, who has to engage in a battle with a bee. The way Bingley tries (and fails) to maintain order within the house results in a series of unfortunate events (not the Netflix show).
Watching Man vs. Bee could help one understand the following saying:
“When it rains, it pours.”
It almost seemed as if Bingley had a little bumblebee that followed him everywhere. It followed him to the garden one day (repeat the last three words (x2) and then the whole line).
What’s Good about Man vs. Bee?
A good thing about Man vs. Bee is that writer Will Davies gives viewers a glimpse of the end. It works as audiences aren’t wondering about the ramifications of numerous poorly thought of and bizarre actions. Rather, they may remain keen to see how Bingley reached there.
Mr. Bean had the mind of a child, but Trevor Bingley came across as just a thick individual; one for whom everything that could go wrong went wrong. However, he did a much better patch-up job than his efforts on the painting of Whistler’s mother.
The show‘s gags are presented well. A lot of thought has gone into them, especially the one in episode 6. It was a combination of acting, set design, Lorne Balfe’s music, and writing (as the elements that contributed to the situation were introduced slowly over the course of the previous 5 episodes).
— Lorne Balfe (@Lornebalfe) June 24, 2022
Atkinson’s acting and Davies’ writing together helped justify why Bingley’s actions weren’t acts of insanity. Even the one event that can be branded as such has reasonable justification. Remember V for Vendetta’s Mr. Creedy’s final dialogue?
Bingley’s front door interactions with the policeman (Tom Basden) were also quite entertaining, with the ones in episodes 3 and 4 standing out.
What’s not good about Man vs. Bee?
The acting could be labeled good, but the repetitive gags, although presented well, were largely unfunny. As they repeat, I began to liken Trevor Bingley and the bee to Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner, respectively. You may get where I’m going with this and why it’s in the not good section.
I was reminded of a scene from Atkinson’s ‘The Trouble with Mr. Bean’ and found the gags in episode 4 quite puerile. It’s shocking that an elite comedian like Atkinson engaged in such a gag.
The seemingly supernatural ability of the bee and its urge to tail Atkinson reminded me of Mystery Inc. trying to catch the ‘monsters’. A sequence from a Tom and Jerry episode (Cat Concerto) came to mind as well. These homages were good, but seeing them in a live-action series was rather out of place.
While the premise promised us Man vs. Bee, frustrations could emerge as viewers expect the man’s far-fetched traps to capture the bee to fail. Despite that, it would be tough to disagree that Rowan Atkinson shines across all nine episodes.
Older audiences may smile as they see the incorporation of gags from classic cartoons. Though these gags may come across as unfunny to many, they aren’t stretched. This may not give one time to process it before they are about 5-6 episodes in. At that point, a part of you would begin to root for Bingley and not hit the back button. Do small episodes work wonders? Perhaps.
My biggest takeaway would be that this new Netflix show is a masterclass in how to act.
Atkinson held his own whilst alone and even appeared nonchalant, sincere, worried, and innocent in all video interactions. Another takeaway from Man vs. Bee could be: How not to take on a Bee.
Man vs. Bee is streaming on Netflix.