Rehearsal poster

The Rehearsal

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What it’s about:

Nathan Fielder (Nathan for You) sets up “rehearsals” for everyday people to practice different ways to handle a significant problem they’re facing. The rehearsals vary from confessing a secret to a friend to making a major life decision.

Names you might know:

Nathan Fielder, star and creator of Nathan for You, created and stars in The Rehearsal. Most of the participants are ordinary folks. Fielder does bring in some actors to help out with the rehearsals, but no one recognizable at this point in their careers.

Why it’s worth your time:
Photo: David M. Russell/HBO

Nathan Fielder has often been referred to as the “king of cringe,” and The Rehearsal proves once again he is worthy of that title. What begins as a simple concept slowly unravels into a strange meditation about human nature. Fielder’s previous series also had a simple premise: he tried to help small businesses by pitching outrageous ideas. A few of these pitches included a poo-flavor at a fro-yo shop, offering an eight-minute pizza delivery or your pizza is free (the size of the free pizza would fit in your hand), and allowing only “attractive” people to steal from a store so that other potential customers would want to shop there. Fielder’s harebrained schemes were always “extra,” so it’s not surprising that The Rehearsal goes for that extra-extra. Much of the humor of his earlier series also stemmed from Fielder’s incredibly awkward personality, which didn’t exactly put his clients at ease.

In the first episode of his new show, Fielder acknowledges that his personality often makes people uncomfortable, so he has been rehearsing to meet with his first subject, Kor. Fielder’s version of a rehearsal isn’t just practicing a few ice breakers; oh no, he hires an actor to play Kor and builds an entire recreation of his apartment to practice in. By the time Fielder goes to meet Kor, he has practiced nearly every possible outcome of their conversation. The level of preparation Fielder invests in this simple meeting is hilarious and a sign that The Rehearsal will be just as every bit absurd as Nathan for You. 

Kor’s conundrum is that he told a friend he has a master’s degree when he doesn’t. He needs to fess up, but isn’t entirely sure how. In true Fielder fashion, he builds an exact replica of the bar where Kor plans to meet his friend. He creates intricate maps of every possible outcome, not unlike a murder investigation, and follows Kor with a laptop tied around his neck taking detailed notes. This kind of over-the-top commitment is what Fielder is known for, and for fans of Nathan for You, The Rehearsal will be right up their alley.

Photo: David M. Russell/HBO

Strangely, this is just the beginning of Fielder’s madness. In the following episode, he sets out to help a woman “rehearse” for motherhood by having her raise a child named Adam. Adam is played by a series of real child actors, and the actors age by three years every week. Fielder struggles with “the mother’s” religious beliefs as well, and tries to manage other rehearsals. It is in these later episodes that The Rehearsal starts to feel less like Nathan For You and more like How to With John Wilson, which Fielder executive produced. In these later episodes, Fielder is still invested in the humor, but he also delves into the complexities of parenthood, independence, and relationships.

It’s been a long time since Fielder has been in front of the camera, and it’s refreshing to have him back. No matter how many times we try to rehearse, there is always the unpredictable nature of human behavior, which is what makes The Rehearsal such a delight.

The takeaway:

A quirky and slightly unhinged comedy that is utterly erratic and surprisingly profound.

Watch it with:

Your friends who love cringe comedy.

Worth noting:

You can also catch Fielder in the upcoming Showtime series, The Curse, alongside Emma Stone. They play a problematic HGTV couple who believe they’ve been cursed.

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