National Geographic’s ‘A Real Bug’s Life’ Magnifies the Extraordinary Resilience of Tiny Creatures

There is much more to Disney+ than superheroes and animated princesses. The streamer’s latest offering, National Geographic’s “A Real Bug’s Life,” is an amusing and educational nature docuseries that takes its name from “A Bug’s Life,” the 1998 Pixar feature about the fictional lives of insects. Narrated by Awkwafina, each episode takes place in a new location, following the trials and tribulations of different micro bugs making their way in a big, scary and wondrous world.

Three of the episodes, “The Big City,” “Braving the Backyard” and “The Busy Farm,” examine how bugs co-exist within the human world, both with each other and with humans. As one can probably guess, “The Big City” takes place in the buzzing and bustling metropolis of New York. Roaches, ants and flies are a major focus in this episode, and those who find these bugs annoying are not going to have their minds changed. Some of their behaviors, especially when they are shown so up close, are pretty repulsive. However, as is the case with most of the insects featured in the series, the viewer will walk away with a newfound respect for their resilience. For example, cockroaches can run up to 200 miles per an hour. As for flies, they have extraordinary vision.

Life is less fast-paced in “Braving the Backyard,” which takes place in a large backyard in Texas, and “The Busy Farm,” set on an English farm. However, there are still very real dangers, such as electricity. Awkwafina and the team even seem to accomplish something one would have thought impossible: They make the viewer feel sympathy for fire ants. Meanwhile, “The Busy Farm” answers some burning questions about bees, such as how a queen bee becomes and stays a queen. These episodes also shed light on how these tiny creatures benefit humans and our own ecosystem.

There are also plenty of dangers in the natural world. Whatever environment a bug is in, there are predators, as well as other life-threatening elements. “Welcome to the Jungle” takes a look at life in the rainforest, which is portrayed here as being a New York for animals, with the jungle floor being as busy as Fifth Avenue during rush hour. The most striking part of this episode is rainfall through a little bug’s POV. “Land of Giants” takes place in Africa, and the focus is on dung beetles and ants and what they go through in their short lives. Again, the resilience of bugs is a major theme throughout all five episodes.

Overall, “A Real Bug’s Life” is an entertaining and edifying watch for the whole family. Older children are the target demo, but parents and guardians would also get a kick out of watching it with their kids. Awkwafina injects a lot of energy and humor into the docu-series that puts it above drier programs that would feel more like homework for younger viewers.

A Real Bug’s Life” begins streaming Jan. 24 on Disney+.