Netflix's new Man vs. Bee series is fun but bizarre for one reason

The Rowan Atkinson-led comedy series is doing something unlike anything else on Netflix, for good or bad

Rowan Atkinson in Man vs. Bee
(Image credit: Netflix)

New Netflix series are a dime a dozen these days, although the streaming platform's new comedy show – Man vs. Bee – starring Rowan Atkinson is trying something different altogether by turning what essentially is a movie into a bite-sized series, and I have mixed feelings about it. 

Back as a bumbling but loveable Mr Bean-like character, Atkinson portrays Trevor Bingley, a down-on-his-luck dad who has just become a house sitter with his first assignment being a luxurious mansion. Filled with priceless artwork, classic cars and an adorable collie-poodle called Cupcake, everything seems under control  – that is, until a bee appears and chaos ensues.

It's funny yet forgettable. Still, it's worth a watch for the animated performance from the British comic, as well as one standout scene where Trevor loses his mind completely and decides to burn down the house with a flamethrower – yikes! On top of this, it's how easy the whole thing is to binge. You see, the nine-episode series is made up of the opening 19-minute episode and then eight episodes all approximately 10-minutes long. 

Check out the trailer for Man vs. Bee below:

The runtime, therefore, makes for quite an unusual viewing with Man vs. Bee essentially playing out as a movie condensed down into a cliffhanger-driven mini-series. It's at odds with Netflix's format with the platform doing its very best at the end of each episode to throw you straight into the next, skipping the credits and intro faster than the streamer makes cancellations. It wants you to watch the 108-minute series in one sitting, and that's why it's clear that Man vs. Bee wasn't initially designed for Netflix

"We created the story and the idea of 10-minute episodes for a different platform and they said 'no, no, we don't want that' or 'we can't afford that' or something," Atkinson explained via the Kermode & Mayo's Take podcast. 

"And so we were left with this idea of 10-minute episodes, which were crafted to be episodes and to try and have cliffhanger moments at the end of each one to try and get you to go onto the next one... to engage you sufficiently. So we were hunting around and we went to Netflix and they embraced it with enthusiasm... "

Rowan Atkinson as Trevor Bingley with a flamethrower in Man vs. Bee

(Image credit: Netflix)

Atkinson further elaborates how Man vs. Bee was always thought of as a movie in his mind, saying: "In terms of the writing and conceiving of it, we have regarded it as a movie. We regard it as a whole. Someone used the term 'serial' the other day which is of course what it is – it's a serial. You don't hear people use that much these days, it's an old-fashioned serial in the sense that it's a story and a narrative that deserved 10 episodes."

The common difference between a series and a serial is that a serial is a type of series that normally makes up an ongoing plot arc, as opposed to self-contained stories – hence why Man. vs. Bee was conceived as a serial. 

Either way, it shouldn't put you off giving this interesting experiment a watch as it doesn't outstay its welcome while providing some decent chuckles along the way. Naturally, the big deciding factor on whether it will hit or miss with you, is whether you enjoy Atkinson's humour.

Man vs. Bee stars Rowan Atkinson, Jing Lusi, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Greg McHugh. The full nine-episode series (or serial) is available to watch on Netflix now. 

Anyone looking to save some money on their streaming bills might just be in luck, as Netflix has officially confirmed that its cheaper ads-based tier is on the way.  

Matt Poskitt
Freelance Writer

Matt is a freelance writer for T3, covering news and keeping up with everything games, entertainment, and all manner of tech. You can find his work across numerous sites across the web, including TechRadar, IGN, GamesRadar, Tom's Guide, Fandom, NME, and more. In his spare time, Matt is an avid cinema-goer, keen runner and average golfer (at best). You can follow him @MattPoskitt64