Side-Splitting masculinity: Comedy, Mr Bean and the representation of masculinities in contemporary society

Patricia Neville*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This article concerns itself with the characterisation of Mr Bean and the popularity this particular representation of masculinity has enjoyed over the past 10 years. It contends that the character of Mr Bean offers more than light entertainment to its viewing audience but also has the potential to test the boundaries and conventions of hegemonic masculinity. In this regard, this article considers how the physical comedy in the Mr Bean series facilitates a deconstruction of the signs, symbols and imagery of masculinity. An interpretative analysis will be developed to illuminate the possibility of a subversive reading of Mr Bean. As an example of a contra-indicative or subverted masculine representation, the character of Mr Bean is also examined in relation to the other popular representations of masculinity of the ‘New Man’ and ‘New Lad’ and proposes that Mr Bean represents a continuing trend in the commercialisation of masculinity in contemporary society. This fusion of a contra-indicative masculinity with unprecedented commercial value brings into question whether Mr Bean is really a counter-hegemonic masculine representation at all.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-243
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Gender Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • Contra-indicative masculinity
  • Hegemonic masculinity
  • Popular representations of masculinity
  • The masculine ‘other’
  • The ‘play frame’ of comedy


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