‘The Rehearsal’ challenges reality TV – The Ticker

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Anyone familiar with the work of comedian Nathan Fielder knows to expect the unexpected. It’s almost impossible to tell when he’s himself or his character onscreen. However, some viewers were left puzzled and even disturbed by the comedian’s latest work.

“The Rehearsal” premiered July 15 on HBO Max, consisting of six episodes in total.

Fielder is previously known for his Comedy Central show, “Nathan For You,” in which he uses his business degree to help struggling small businesses. The only twist is its unorthodox approach. The most memorable moments include creating a cafe called “Dumb Starbucks” using the law of parody to trick customers into thinking it’s a real Starbucks.

The series aimed to help individuals by placing them in a fully staged rehearsal with actors to help simulate a situation in the individual’s life and what different courses of action might entail if taken.

Over the course of six episodes, audiences saw three different rehearsals: a professor who wanted to confess a lie; a brother who wanted to allay a concern about a will; and, a woman who wanted to experience raising a child.

The comedian explained in the first episode that he was told that his personality can make people uncomfortable. For many introverted or anxious people, this may be the perfect show for them. The audience, as well as the individual, is guided through all the possible outcomes and knows how it may end, thus relieving any stress induced by the show.

It gives those struggling with anxiety a chance to feel seen. For those who don’t have the same experience, they at least have a taste of what it can be like to overthink it. Some have linked the show’s approach to cognitive behavioral therapy.

Other autistic viewers have said they resonate with Fielder’s on-screen persona, especially wanting to know how a person is feeling and what their reactions will be.

In the first 44-minute episode, Fielder helped a middle-aged man, Kor Skeete, rehearse his confession to a lie he’d been telling for years using a flowchart process. At the end of the simulation, Skeete felt relieved after confessing and receiving a more positive reaction than expected.

However, the series took a turn when Fielder decided to take part in his own project: co-parenting a child with Angela, a middle-aged woman who wanted to know what it was like to raise a child. With the use of several child actors, Angela was able to become a “mom” in no time.

Throughout the comedian’s social experiment, viewers felt uneasy and wondered if Fielder’s approach was ethical. This unease grew especially after one of his child actors Remy, raised by a single mother, grew attached to Fielder, believing him to be his real father.

In some scenes, you can see the remorse on Fielder’s face. It’s as if he himself didn’t know what his work could really do for another person. Yet he continues.

Some would say it’s dedication. Others say Fielder is a narcissist who continues his social experiment no matter who gets hurt.

It’s safe to say that “The Rehearsal” isn’t for everyone.

By the end, many were even wondering if the show was scripted or not, and if it was actors who starred throughout. Neither claim has been confirmed by Fielder, whose series has already been renewed for a second season.

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