Review: “The Rehearsal” Season One

Arts & Entertainment

Anthony Pantalone, Editor

*Spoilers Ahead*

Anxiety can be a prison. One that feels impossible to escape. No matter what someone does, their fears paralyze them. The possibility of doing something wrong or making a mistake seems so inevitable and terrifying that one often never even takes any action. Some people even let this fear dictate their lives and well-being. They’ll take medication to minimize its effects and work tirelessly to live with their anxiety. “The Rehearsal” offers an absurd and comedic alternative.

Rehearsing Life

Nathan Fielder’s “The Rehearsal” shows this awkward neurotic comedian back in top form as he attempts to help others and himself overcome strenuous anxieties through various rehearsals of real-life experiences. Well-known for his prior television show “Nathan For You,” Fielder in this program constructs elaborate sets and productions to rehearse and simulate both social interactions and mundane events. In the process, this comedian looks to help others alleviate their own social and existential anxieties while somehow healing his own personal neuroses. From allowing a man to confess to a friend about his academic career to helping a woman simulate parenthood, Fielder looks to explore and understand almost every aspect of life by rehearsing it. This undertaking creates strange absurdly comedic situations making for great television. Fielder channels the energy and existential anxiety of the works of Charlie Kaufman—a la “Synecdoche, New York”—only with far less manic-depression.


“The Fielder Method”

This show produces what-may-be the most head spinning half-hour of television this year with its fourth episode, “The Fielder Method.” The installment’s title refers to Nathan’s signature school of acting where his actors attempt to truly embody the roles they play. He wants them to truly somehow get into the mind of the people they are playing in these rehearsals. This desire even causes him to arrange for each actor to work in the profession of their specific role. When one actor, Ryan, shows early apprehension to this method, Fielder is sent into a spiral trying to understand the perspective and feelings of this student. Simple communication with this actor isn’t enough for Nathan, and he sets up an entire rehearsal of his own acting class where he now plays the role of Ryan. Another actor even plays Nathan Fielder who teaches the class in this rehearsal. This comedian slowly descends further and further into absurdism over this simple debacle—even eventually leading Nathan to secretly move into this student’s apartment and live there while playing as Ryan. “The Fielder Method” is incredibly hilarious even while making the viewer feel constantly uncomfortable. I have not audibly gasped as much at an episode of television in years.


Stranger than Fiction

One would think the most off-putting and badly-adjusted person involved in this show would be Nathan Fielder—the man using a huge budget to pull off insane rehearsals of real life. He somehow isn’t. Fielder is one of the most well-adjusted people in comparison to the actions of others around him in these productions. There’s Angela—a fiercely antisemitic Christian woman for whom Nathan arranges a rehearsal to see if she would like to be a parent. Another example is Robin, Angela’s brief simulated spouse who constantly refers to numerology and the fact that he crashed his Scion TC at over 100 miles per hour. Nathan—who is Jewish himself—combats Angela’s antisemitism with the help of a local Jewish tutor. Then, after Angela leaves this rehearsal, this same tutor reveals herself to be a fierce Zionist and attempts to force her own beliefs onto Nathan’s simulated son. The rehearsed events would appear to be the strangest aspect of this show, but the real people that participate appear even stranger through their own actions and statements.


In summation, “The Rehearsal” is likely one of the most stressful and neurotic television shows I have ever seen. It is the unequivocal vision of a person who doesn’t understand the people around him yet desperately wants to. I loved every minute of it. Also, I really hope Nathan Fielder goes to therapy.

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