Perfectly simple and delightfully entertaining, Man vs. Bee is a brilliant display of Rowan Atkinson’s trademark slapstick comedy and how the simplest of premises can garner the greatest of results. It’s all very self-explanatory – a man finds himself at war with a bee, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.
Man vs. Bee is an absolute joy to watch from beginning to end, and it’s all thanks to Rowan Atkinson doing what he does best. His style of slapstick comedy, from playing Mr. Bean to Johnny English, may be a bit of an acquired taste for some, but I love it. His talents are on full display in this series, delivering a consistent run of comedic beats that garner great laughs throughout. The minor nuances in his slapstick comedy are what make the biggest difference. The gag with how he opens drawers and cupboards is something so small and simple, but it’s one of my favourite recurring moments. Not every comedic beat is a hit as a couple of moments are a bit too predictable, but we’re talking about a small handful of gags amongst 100 others that work. So yes, I saw the stovetop moment coming, but certainly not the hairspray beat.
The way the comedy and destruction snowballs with each successive episode is a great touch. Just when you think there’s no way this could possibly turn to shit, life finds a way. The constant doubling down on the destruction is without a doubt very ridiculous, but it fits within the series’ overall silly tone. One element that needs to be credited is the ingenious use of music throughout the entire series. They could have just placed some quirky tunes in the background and called it a day, but instead they went full on with using musical cues to make the smallest of moments exaggeratedly epic and dramatic. Another sign of small additions that make a big difference.
There’s even a nice little emotional narrative weaved in with Rowan Atkinson’s character and his family. It’s nothing too substantial, but it helps to make his character feel a bit more human and loveable – and not just a bit of a klutz. It also helps give the show some sort of additional narrative arc so it’s not strictly a series of unfortunate events.
In the end, I had an absolute blast with Man vs. Bee. It’s certainly not my favourite show of the year, but I couldn’t stop watching and was glued to the screen. Rowan Atkinson is a comedic genius and true master of his craft. At nearly 70 years old, he hasn’t lost his touch and produces plenty of comedic gold in here. To be fair, this could have been cut into a single movie-length release, but when you binge it all it doesn’t make much of a difference. All I know upon finishing this series is that I’d love for there to be a season two – I feel like I could watch Rowan leaving a trail of destruction whilst trying to kill something as innocuous as a lone bee for hours. If you’re also a fan of Rowan’s comedy, then this is 100% for you.