If there was ever an argument for canceling your Netflix subscription, this might be it.
In Man Vs Bee, Rowan Atkinson plays Trevor, a hapless divorcee who is hired to look after the household for an extremely posh couple with one of these homes that exudes a neat and fragile vibe: their tour of all the expensive art is an exercise in pointing out the several live Chekhov guns nearby. Then Trevor is left alone and of course chaos ensues in the form of a bee that won’t leave him alone.
That’s it. That’s the premise, and my god, is it getting thin before the end of the first 20 minute episode.
Atkinson plays Trevor with the kind of awkward benevolence of a Mr. Bean who’s suddenly discovered he can talk. There are some thin attempts to invoke sympathy for him via an estranged daughter and a disgruntled ex-wife; they don’t work.
Instead, we have to watch as he brings a hammer, a screwdriver and finally a flamethrower to the couple’s house to kill his tiny CGI tormentor.
Their rivalry (which takes the form of the bee buzzing menacingly at him from behind glass windows and making multiple Houdini-esque escapes from various containers) is less fun than painful.
Classic cars exist because of course they exist (in fact, car enthusiast Atkinson will likely be able to buy a new one with the check from this show). Trevor is locked out of the house and has to crawl in through the dog door because of course he does.
Each disaster is signposted so far in advance and with so much nudge and wink that it’s no longer funny and more like waiting for a swaying boulder to fall off a cliff onto a main road.
At every turn, Trevor makes stupid and inexplicable decisions that don’t explain why he’s become so obsessed with that fuzzy Freddy Kruger.
Why is he taking a microwave out of a kitchen wall? Why is he chasing a bee with an electric whisk? Why does he think trying to smack said bee into a valuable vase is a good way to kill her?
At a certain point you stop questioning things and instead enter a fugue state. Does time fly by or are you just stuck in a horrible 10 minute Groundhog Day (that’s how long the other episodes are. It’s too long)? Anyhow, you are aware that there are many things you could do instead, most of which are more enjoyable and unrelated to looking at dog poo.
In fact, it’s remarkable how many so-called comedies believe that what audiences around the world want to see and hear most is a good helping of (pardon the pun) scatological humor.
And oh boy, do we get a lot of that in Man Vs Bee. From almost the very first line, where Trevor calls his co-worker “Mrs Bergen-Bottom” (much to her understandable annoyance), we’re treated to gallons of the stuff.
Want to see a dog try to eat a man’s crotch — or see a man use the words “doggy doo doo” more times than you typically hear at Crufts? You are in the right place. Would you like to end a series feeling like your soul hasn’t been smeared with it? Not as much.
At the start of the show, Trevor is put on trial and charged with dangerous driving, destruction of artwork, damaging property, and arson. Before the action begins via flashback, he is found guilty.
Honestly, good. Prison is where this show belongs.