Rowan Atkinson is a funny person. In addition to being a talented comedian who has dedicated his life to comedy, he also just looks funny. His face, the way he moves, the way he speaks – he’s just naturally funny. This natural comedy was the key to his most famous character, Mr. Bean, that dumb (mostly) character of a man trying to deal with our modern world to the best of his ability, usually without much success. This is also the concept behind Atkinson’s new series on Netflix, “Man vs. Bee.”
Netflix, if you have not heard, is in a state of disrepair. The company is losing subscribers, canceling series at breakneck speed and generally seems to be throwing everything it can on the walls to see what sticks. “Man vs. Bee” is reminiscent of another series Netflix recently released, “The Pentagon” starring Mike Myers. They are not similar in plot or format, but in that they are both attempts to take comedic creators that culminated decades ago, and let them do what they once did, but on Netflix. For Myers it’s a comedy in which he plays a number of different characters with wigs and accents, and for Atkinson it’s a comedy in which he plays a stupid but kind-hearted guy who constantly destroys things by mistake.
The kind-hearted jerk in this case is Trevor, a divorced father who is starting a new job as a house sitter for a wealthy couple. The house he needs to look after is a house with advanced technology: automatic faucets, rooms that open only with voice recognition, drawers that open by hand movement. All these things of course become obstacles for him, when a particularly determined bee enters the house, and in pursuit of it Trevor sows much destruction. A simple concept that leads to many entertaining slapstick moments, but raises the question: Why is this a series? Why instead of some half-hour short film, it divides into a nine-episode series ranging from ten to twenty minutes? The answer is probably buried deep in Netflix’s algorithm, which makes all the decisions for them.
Atkinson made some headlines this week when he came out in an interview – as usual – against this politically correct culture of young people. “Every joke has a victim” he claims, and sometimes that victim is below you in society. Many on the Internet have already mocked him for his boomerang opinion, mostly coming from such a surprising source (“Who exactly was the victim of Mr. Bean’s humor? The turkey you stuck your head in?”) But to some extent, Atkinson is right. I mean, I’m not sure if every joke has a victim, but a lot of them definitely have. And that’s exactly why people want comedians to think about who their victim is, and if it’s say a weakened group whose rights are undermined on a daily basis they might leave it at that. You understand, between?
But speaking of which, who exactly are the victims of “Man vs. Bee”? The object of the series’ great ridicule are the wealthy millennials for whom Atkinson is destroying the house. They are smug, annoying, full of themselves and they get their punishment when the pretentious house is destroyed. But there is no great statement here against the rich. This is not “Comrade Bin and the Socialist Bee.” It’s just a collection of slapstick jokes, some of them very funny, by a talented person who does what’s good in him, but does not reinvent much.
If you are a big fan of physical comedy, who want to spend two hours on Netflix, then you will enjoy. Atkinson completely invests himself in the falls and the funny faces, even if he does not invest so much in the side plot of the series about Trevor’s relationship with his young home. There’s a reason I did not mention it until now. Will “Man vs. Bee” be an important step in a new direction for Netflix? probably not. It will probably just be forgotten like many other series that Netflix has released recently, in their pursuit of subscribers. But at least she’s funny at times, and not offensive. Oh, Suri Rowan. She is very offensive, and defeats the evil PC culture. Is that what you wanted to hear?
“Man Against Bee.” Now on Netflix