As we enter into the second chapter of Mr. Bean’s television life, it is worth noting a particularly prevalent-yet-understated theme of the show: loneliness.
For instance, Mr. Bean takes himself out for a birthday dinner. He writes a birthday card for himself which, a short time after signing it, he discovers with naïve surprise and is heartened that he remembered his own birthday.
Yes, Mr. Bean is the surreal loner.
But there is another theme here: optimism.
Bean doesn’t seem bothered by shopping alone (as long as he has his shiny, new American Express card…and his potato…and his fish).
No, he revels in the wonder of life.
Everything is an adventure.
If Seinfeld is a show about nothing, then Mr. Bean is a show about less than nothing.
Atkinson is wielding a sort of comedic antimatter weapon.
And the effect is devastatingly funny.
It’s funnier if you’ve had steak tartare, but it’s still funny if you haven’t.
Also present is that English (as in England) preoccupation with courtesy and politeness…manners, if you will.
Bean wants to save a man from the ignominy of embarrassment. The bloke has picked up the wrong charge card. So Bean surreptitiously picks the man’s pocket just to put the right card back in. But his hand becomes stuck at the end of the act. And so Rowan Atkinson is dragged all the way to the toilet with this man. Silently following.
It brings to mind the famous Pink Floyd lyric: “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.”
I’ve many times thought that applies to me (as I am mostly of English descent…though a bit French…and Italian [Venetian]).
Few things in this world are more antiquated than the British monarchy and (not completely unrelated) “manners”.
I don’t have any particular fondness for Queen Elizabeth or any other royal (of any nation) who’s ever lived. It’s a bunch of poppycock, if you ask me.
But manners are worth something.
Yes, I do respect the common man and the common woman…who remind us of a different time. Common courtesy. THAT is the true royalty of the planet.