‘The Rehearsal’ brings reality television into question


The Rehearsal | WarnerMedia Pressroom

Mariana Oliva

Anyone familiar with comedian Nathan Fielder’s work knows to expect the unexpected. It is nearly impossible to tell when he is being himself or his on-screen persona. However, some viewers were left confused and even disturbed by the comedian’s latest work.

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

Fielder is previously known for his show on Comedy Central, “Nathan For You,” in which he uses his business degree to help struggling small businesses. The only twist is his unorthodox approach. The most memorable moments include creating a coffee shop called “Dumb Starbucks” by using parody law to reel in customers thinking it’s an actual Starbucks.

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

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

The comedian explained in the first episode that he has been told his personality can make people uncomfortable. For many people who are introverts, or deal with anxiety, this may be the perfect show for them. The audience, along with the individual, is walked through every possible outcome, and knows how it may end, providing relief from any stress induced by the show.

It gives those who struggle with anxiety a chance to feel seen. For those who do not have the same experience, they at least get a glimpse of what it can be like to overthink. Some have related the show’s approach to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Other viewers who are on the autism spectrum said that they resonated with Fielder’s on-screen persona, particularly with wanting to know how a person feels and what their reactions will be.

In the first 44-minute episode, Fielder helped a middle-aged man, Kor Skeete, rehearse his confession about a lie he had been telling for years by 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 shift when Fielder decided to partake in his own project: co-parenting a child with Angela, a middle-aged woman who wanted to know what it’s like to raise a kid. With the use of several child actors, Angela was able to become a “mom” in a short time span.

Throughout the comedian’s social experiment, viewers were left feeling uncomfortable and questioned whether Fielder’s approach was ethical. This discomfort grew especially after one of his child actors Remy, who is raised by a single-mother, grew attached to Fielder, believing that he is his real dad.

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

Some may argue that this is dedication. Others say that Fielder is a narcissist who goes through with his social experiment, regardless of who gets hurt.

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

By the end, many were even left wondering whether or not the series was scripted, and if it was actors acting all along. Neither claim has been confirmed by Fielder, whose series has already been renewed for a second season.