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We Are Millard South

The Student Journalism Site of Millard South High School

We Are Millard South

The Student Journalism Site of Millard South High School

We Are Millard South

The Rehearsal is Comically Captivating

Following the niche but cult favorite series Nathan For You, the anticipation for Nathan Fielder’s return to television was felt passionately by many, myself included. The Comedy Central show not only provided some of the hardest laughs I have experienced in the past few years, but provided a springboard for where Nathan was headed next: somewhere darker, emotionally resonant, and more introspective. His new venture, The Rehearsal, delivers on that yearning I felt watching the less frequent but heartfelt Nathan For You moments, and especially delivers on the comedy front, with every episode causing me to laugh in a way I haven’t in a long time.

The Rehearsal is a hard show to describe. Although I have tried recommending it to several people, the only thing I can come up with to say is “Just watch it.” Going in blind however might not be a suitable path for everyone, and without any knowledge of Nathan Fielder’s uncomfortable comedic style, it might not even be the right show for everyone (Although you’d be missing out). The Rehearsal is an absurd social experiment in which Nathan tries to give everyday people the chance to rehearse difficult life events. In these rehearsals, elaborate, identical sets are built for each person’s scenario, and actors are hired to recreate these tough scenarios. People struggling with a confrontation, a dreaded conversation, or an event as life-changing as raising a child are showcased in Nathan’s docu-series.

The show starts with a perfect pilot that reels you in just enough, only offering a slight taste of the pensive chaos that ensues in the following episodes. Plotwise, this first episode, “Orange Juice, No Pulp” follows the simple, written-down premise of the series. Nathan sets out to help a trivia buff named Kor come clean about a lie to a friend. An exact replica of the bar where this confrontation was to take place was built, and an actress was hired to play the friend Kor was to talk to. The aim is that with days of preparation in this bizarre set, Kor would successfully be able to come clean about his problem with ease. Kor’s rehearsal attempt sets out to answer the show’s underlying question: If you had the chance to rehearse any situation in a world so unexpected, would you actually come out more successful?

Throughout the seven episodes, Nathan invites more and more people into his boundless studio of sets, leading to hilarious exchanges and further inner turmoil on Nathan’s end as well as in some of the show’s recurring individuals. It is absolutely bizarre but totally warranted that a show this goofy sounding is actually as existential as it is. Nathan has a gift for unraveling the human psyche, showing the insane lengths people will go to to be on television or what they will reveal to the masses when they come across his honest yet deadpan personality. The Rehearsal is the phenomenal culmination of the comedic elements of Nathan For You, and complex elements of human interaction, exploitation, and empathy.

It’s even crazier that this show was able to find some of the most interesting yet ludicrous people and put them on display as their authentic selves, just to test this mad mastermind’s goal of living out rehearsed fantasies. I can’t stress enough how endlessly fascinating and funny the whole show is. I could watch hours of it. I haven’t seen a show seamlessly weave comedy with a leading man’s examination of his own morals so beautifully.

Despite The Rehearsal’s brilliance, online discourse sparked up about the ethics of Nathan’s work and its exploitative nature. Actors being trained for the rehearsals and sets built are supposedly created without the subjects’ knowledge, except we, the audience, don’t necessarily know what the subjects know. I’d like to think the whole series was real, but some more absurd parts of the show, like the part mentioned previously, being staged wouldn’t bug me in the slightest. Without spoiling anything, some of the real people featured in the show start to question Nathan’s motives in the first place, which frankly, only seems to make the show funnier. It’s psychotic, but that’s the point. The show is almost about the morals of the show. Is it right or wrong to test every instance of your life this way? Is it wrong to put these vulnerable people on camera to make an HBO viewer laugh? The show psychologically unpacks whether Nathan is some exploitative villain. It’s hilariously nuanced and self-aware about the dangers of what it could be doing, which unravels in the best way possible at the end of the series. The finale is absolutely crushing, and perfectly furthers the spiraling lunacy of this long-winded, tumultuous set of rehearsals.

I am fortunate there is at least one more season to come of The Rehearsal and fortunate we have a show this smart being made currently. Every episode exceeded the previous one and was ceaselessly entertaining while emotionally profound. A show this bewildering and funny deserves to be seen by everyone, as I genuinely never wanted an episode to end. The Rehearsal is not only setting the standard for modern comedy shows, but is breaking ground in its own distinct genre, and it couldn’t be more exciting.

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Lauren Rayner
Lauren Rayner, Managing Editor
Lauren Rayner is a senior and a third-year staff member. She plays viola in the Chamber Orchestra and enjoys reading, listening to music, and watching movies.
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