Nathan Fielder is known for cringing, both for the goofy energy he exudes onscreen and for the uncomfortable behaviors he elicits from people on his shows. His new docu-comedy series The Rehearsal, recently renewed by HBO for a second season, is no exception.
In every episode of The Rehearsal, a real person has something they’d like to repeat. Whether it’s a confrontation with a family member or the full experience of parenthood, Fielder stops at nothing to meticulously create elaborate environments in which to prepare for all possible outcomes. The inevitable clash of real emotions and false contexts leads to a level of caring that is impossible to ignore.
Real-Tricia interviews actor-Tricia
In the first episode of The Rehearsal, Nathan helps bar trivia team member Kor practice for a difficult conversation with his trivia teammate Tricia, in which Kor plans to tell Tricia that he lied about having a master’s degree. Kor’s rehearsal requires an actor to represent Tricia in her conversations.
Things get awkward when Actor-Tricia pretends to be an ornithologist whom Real-Tricia interviews for her blog. Actor-Tricia’s real purpose is to study Real-Tricia and her ways without her knowledge. Real-Tricia’s belief that they have a real interview makes the scene uncomfortable to watch. The cringe factor of the scene is due to the conflict of the show’s goal of recreating reality with actual reality.
Nathan’s move to Thomas’ house
Nathan’s Fielder method involves training actors to study their subjects (called “primaries”) by secretly interacting with and studying them, as actor-Tricia does in episode 1. The episode “The Method Fielder” goes meta when Nathan portrays one of his students in an attempt to find out more about his own class.
Nathan stars as his student Thomas and experiences a Fielder Method class (now taught by an actor playing Nathan) from a student’s perspective. To use the Fielder Method, Nathan immerses himself in Thomas’s life. This reaches its most awkward level when Nathan convinces the real Thomas to move into a house similar to Thomas’ “primary” and moves into Thomas’ house without Thomas knowing. Nathan’s secret ulterior motive — a recurring aspect of Fielder’s other social experiment, Nathan For You — makes the dynamic between Thomas and Nathan even more awkward.
Kor’s Worst Rehearsal
When Kor is rehearsing for his conversation with Tricia in Episode 1, Nathan creates a replica of the Alligator Lounge in Brooklyn and hires actors to play the other bar patrons in the scene.
During one version of Kor’s rehearsal, the actors voice all the mean thoughts Kor is afraid people will think. As Kor tells the truth about his upbringing in Acting-Tricia, the actors around him sneer and say things like, “Who doesn’t have a master’s degree?” It’s an over-the-top scene, but the fact that it touches on Kor’s real insecurities makes it hard to watch.
Robbin’s numerology fight with his roommate
In episode 2, Angela – who embarks on an incredibly elaborate rehearsal of parenthood – meets Robbin on a date. While their bad dating experience with a reality show will be short-lived, Angela invites Robbin to stay home with her, where she’ll see if he might be a good person to co-parent with. Nathan wants to examine Robbin before he potentially joins the show, so he goes home with Robbin to collect his things for the trial sleepover.
Robbin references numbers throughout the episode, but it’s not until he’s with his roommate that any real conflict arises over his interests in numerology. Robbin’s roommate yells at Robbin for taking numbers more seriously than reality, and it becomes a fight in its own right.
Angela’s insistence that Halloween (and Google) is satanic
Eventually, Angela and Nathan live together for their extensive co-parenting rehearsal as a steady rotation of child actors portray their fake son Adam. The most uncomfortable moments in this rehearsal are when Nathan and Angela are alone and confronted with their conflicting points of view.
In one scene, Nathan confronts Angela about her claim that Halloween is a satanic holiday. He tells her that he can’t find anything in a Google search that supports her beliefs, to which she replies that Google is also satanic. Nathan’s reaction alone expresses the cringe of this particular conflict between what’s real and what’s fake.
Nathan’s digital mirror
Nathan and Angela rehearse parenthood at an accelerated pace, as the child actors portray Adam growing up three years at a time. As Adam rapidly ages but Nathan and Angela do not, Nathan installs an aging digital mirror in the house that disturbingly reflects an older version of whoever is looking at it.
Although only a small object in Nathan’s intricately detailed rehearsal world, the digital mirror adds an extra touch of eccentricity to an already defying normalcy setting. What makes this believable is the seriousness with which Nathan looks at his own digitally aged reflection. In these moments, Nathan makes the mirror seem like more than an entertaining prop. It’s something special and private – a revelation of the future self – and therefore awkward.
Shower at tutor’s house
In the episode “Apocalypto”, Nathan asserts himself and affirms his Jewish culture with Angela, who is a devout Christian. He wants his fake son Adam to learn the Jewish religion and the history of the Jewish people, so he takes Adam to a tutor.
As Angela did not approve of this education, Nathan lies to her by saying that Adam is going swimming. To make this lie more convincing, Nathan has Adam take a shower at the tutor’s at the end of each session so he looks like he’s swimming when they get home. It’s incredibly bizarre that Nathan would order his fake son to shower in a real person’s real house, and seeing the tutor forced to react to this unusual behavior is especially unsettling.
Adult actor portraying young Adam
The rehearsal begins to go particularly badly when Remy, a boy who played six-year-old Adam, struggles to separate real life from his acting life and he continues to call Nathan “dad” even after their scenes. actor.
Nathan, who is now a TV single dad going through the roller coaster of parenthood without Angela, repeats scenarios that would have spared Remy that experience. Nathan recreates a scene in which he and Remy-as-Adam have fun chasing each other around the living room. One of those recreations is with a grown man playing six-year-old Adam. The unusual sight of two grown men giggling during a heartwarming father/son bonding moment is uncomfortable to say the least.
The real gold panning night
In Episode 3, a man named Patrick rehearses a confrontation with his brother over their late grandfather’s will. Nathan wants the emotional charge of this rehearsal to feel more real, so he throws an elaborate party for Patrick.
Patrick spends a bizarre night in the woods with a man he believes to be the grandfather of the real-life actor playing Patrick’s brother. The show goes to ridiculous ways to create a literal panning for gold scene that creates an emotional situation parallel to the one Patrick experiences with his brother. A situation that begins as funny and absurd becomes difficult to watch is also common in Fielder’s Nathan For You, a show that is also more awkward than funny.
Nathan visits Remy
When Remy, an actor who plays six-year-old Adam, struggles to adjust to a life without Nathan as his ‘dad’, Nathan grapples with the real-life consequences of his job as a child actor – though it’s a common practice that many child actors handle with aplomb. Nathan goes to Remy’s to try and smooth things over – or is he just going there for the fun of his show?
Nathan and his cameras visiting the real Remy in his real house are the ultimate example of reality and rehearsal awkwardly clashing with each other. Nathan and Remy’s mom tell Remy that Nathan is “Nathan”, but Remy keeps calling him “Daddy”. This is commendable because the risk of emotional harm is real, or at least presented as such.
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Rehearsal: 10 Craziest Moments | Pretty Reel
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