Hey Has Anyone Watched The Show The Rehearsal?

Hey Has Anyone Watched The Show The Rehearsal?
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Hey, Has Anyone Watched The Show The Rehearsal? Over on the Patreon blog for THiNC. a show recommendation landed completely out of the blue. The Rehearsal, which was advocated for by Hbizzle, is next level weird. But also so unrelentingly weird that it’s unassuming, innocent, and incredibly, unaware of the innate awkwardness that it itself is creating. Hold on. Let me back up.

The Rehearsal is a simple idea. Do you have a problem that you need to have solved? Then maybe Nathan (aka Nathan Fielder, the creative force behind the show Nathan for You) can help you figure it out. Sort of like the television equivalent of the podcast Heavyweight by Jonathan Goldstein – which I literally cannot recommend highly enough – which doesn’t help you if you are unfamiliar with Heavyweight I guess. Wait, it does help you… because not only do you now know about The Rehearsal, but you also know about Heavyweight. It just doesn’t help convince you to watch or listen to either.

I’ll come in again.

The show The Rehearsal by Nathan Fielder aims to solve random individual’s social dilemmas by thinking through every possible permutation of an event’s possible outcome, and mitigating each, and every, one. Step, by step, by step. And we watch this slow-moving car crash happen, over and over again. How can you not watch after that summary? (Hbizzle, maybe you should have done the opener here… ?)

Let’s Talk About an Episode of the Rehearsal

The setup for episode 1 of The Rehearsal is simple. Kor, a member of a hobbyist trivia team, has told another member of the team that he has a masters degree, but in fact, it’s a lie. But he is so nervous about telling this other person about his lie that he doesn’t know what to do.

Here’s where things go really upside down. Nathan himself, so concerned and worried about winning Kor over, that he has setup a Rehearsal of his own. He has hired an actor to be Kor. He’s sent in a utility crew from the gas company to scan his entire apartment so that he can create a perfect replica of Kor’s apartment. Basically, what Kor doesn’t know is that Nathan has already iteratively recreated every possible permutation of how his initial conversation with Kor so that he can affect a caring and fake affectation of closeness, in order to convince Kor to let him help solve his problem. Are you seeing the problems here? Are you seeing the television magic here?

Hey Has Anyone Watched The Show The Rehearsal?

Above you can see one of Nathan’s typical flow diagrams of possible scenarios and the various mitigations of each of these risks. Kor admits his masters was a lie, he’s met with hostility, cut off the conversation and talks about something else. Or, Kor asks his friend, Tricia, on the team out, and she mistakes it as a date, this is how he mitigates that risk. Or, Kor… you get the idea.

This is an obsessive-compulsive’s cat nip. It is a literalization of what goes on in an OCD person’s head. Literally. I can’t tell my friend about my lie, why? Because she’ll be come violent. Or hate me. Or see me as a fraud. Or, possibly think less of me. I can’t go through with it, because it could be my worst fears realized. Oh? Well, can we manipulate her and see if we can’t get her to understand where Kor is coming from? Basically, the tagline for The Rehearsal is, “A happy outcome doesn’t have to be left to chance.” Huh. Interesting.

Now, I’ve only seen a couple episodes at this point. But they all – as far as I can tell so far – follow this same general formula. Problem? Ask Nathan for help. He will build a set that is WAY more elaborate and detailed than necessary. He’ll hire actors. He’ll get close to the person on some other pretext in order to give the actors background to base their performances on. And then they will game out all the various ways in which the situation can possibly go. And then, at the end of the day, Kor, or whomever, are left to their own devices as they try and use the research they have done to get through the situation… to state the lie, to ask for forgiveness.

Hey Has Anyone Watched The Show The Rehearsal?

Now, it should be said, that on episode 1 at least, the entirety of the show was much ado about nothing. Kor was worried that Tricia would get violent. He literally states that this is his concern. And he is so certain that this will be her response that he initially won’t even name which person on the team it is that he is worried about. During the episode, the actor hired to emulate Tricia, meets with her, and lies to her about something inane to see how she responds. She was caring, and kind, and forgiving. Huh. But the show continues to build up this conflict like it’ll be the next Armageddon. But how did it go in reality? She was super sweet, forgiving, and instead of refusing to let Tricia talk anymore about it, Kor and Tricia talk about his family, and what led to that lie for the better part of another hour or more. Interesting.

What is Happening on The Rehearsal?

What is happening on The Rehearsal? I have no idea. And neither do you. Tricia has blogged about the experience after the premier came out. And she has said that she and Kor are real people, with a real problem, and it really was solved. But an NDA has precluded her from saying much more about it. But the fact that she even had to say that she and Kor are real, tells you a bit about the problem that we have going on here.

Personally? I believe Nathan has turned his own OCD, of which the show itself is just another symptom of, into a weaponized auto-immune response. He has externalized the ways in which he mitigates risks in his own life. Practice. Planning. Rehearsals. All to manipulate a situation into the best possible circumstances in order to get a good outcome.

But just in episode one, you can see the flaw here. Thinking the worst of people – that they’ll be come violent, or hurt – is a symptom of a deeper problem. Several, actually. Caring that deeply about what others think about you is a flaw all in and of itself. Yes, Kor get himself into a jam by lying. But we all lie at one time or another and to think that Tricia, innately, would be angry is just a bad assumption at its heart. That Kor cared that deeply about what Tricia thought of him and his lie is actually extraordinarily sweet. And Tricia focused on that, more so than the actual lie. And also, assuming the worst of others is just a really horrible way to walk through life. AND MANIPULATING PEOPLE, to get the best possible response? Is even worse.

Think about it. Nathan stages Kor’s apartment, in detail. He has scanned the entirety of the guy’s living space. He knows in advance that there is a book on the shelf about having sex all night long, and jokes about it. He knows there is no plunger in the bathroom, and makes a self-deprecating joke about it, and it backfires. Kor wanted to be on the show. That was a foregone conclusion (he was on an episode of Cash Cab years prior). Nathan spent how much money building Kor’s apartment? And for what? Getting his approval to be on the show? (Maybe it was just to illustrate to us how the show would go?)

Worse, Kor’s fears about confronting his lie with Tricia were unfounded. Instead of manipulating Tricia, Nathan could have just discussed his unfounded fears with Kor. “Kor, I think she’ll see you for the caring person that you are, that it was a mistake.” Instead, the game plan is manipulation and deceit. WHICH ITSELF could backfire. I’d be shocked if there weren’t versions of these encounters where the duplicitousness inserted into the relationships or problems itself don’t cause it’s own dilemmas and problems. Wait, you built a bar, and gamed out this interaction to force me to give you the best possible result? It’s like customers that realize that large corporations manipulated them into purchasing the larger option through price configurations. Does that make you want to buy that product again? Uh, maybe not.

The question here, is… who is this Nathan guy, and is this persona of his – the extreme OCD individual – an affectation? Or is it just a persona he wears for the creation of this show? During a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) Nathan discussed how he cast a potential business that he would work with on his previous show Nathan For You (which was a very similar setup to Rehearsal).

“In a Reddit AMA, Nathan Fielder said, “Often in the casting process we’ll encounter business owners that have lots of specific questions about the show and exactly what we’re planning to do with them. Because going into a shoot we don’t want participants knowing any of that or that it’s a comedy show (as this would take away from the acting naturally), we usually end up avoiding these more controlling/protective personality types as the chances they’re going to get very upset by an experience they aren’t prepared for is much higher. And the goal is never to get people upset.””

You see there? He’s looking for people that would just go with the flow and allow Nathan to push the boundaries comedically. Now, does that mean that The Rehearsal is also a comedy? No. The Rehearsal is a fish of another kettle.

The Long Con That Is The Rehearsal

We are what, two thousand words in on this discussion of this show, and that’s just after watching one episode of The Rehearsal. But the rest of season one? Turns out that the rest of the season might even be an entirely different thing all together. (Including a fake family, a Christian mother without the children desperate to live out her perfect world in Nathan’s fake/fully staged life.) I’ve started my journey into this weird, marvelous, otherworldly thing, and will keep you all apprised of my progress over on Discord. If you are curious, come join us. Or, better yet, watch the show yourself and comment below on the weird mental gymnastics you are required to do in order to keep your brain from exploding! I’d love to hear about it.

But before you go… I do have to say, that there is a movie, a fictional flick, that is LITERALLY this show to a T. The movie is The Remainder. And it maybe the only thing more baffling than Nathan Fielder’s television series. It is an amazing movie, and we had a ton of fun discussing it here on the site.

Edited by: CY