The Rehearsal (TV series)
|Created by||Nathan Fielder|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||6|
|Running time||27–44 minutes|
|Production company||Blow Out Productions|
|Original release||July 15, 2022 –|
The Rehearsal is an American docu-comedy television series created, written, and directed by and starring Nathan Fielder. It premiered on HBO on July 15, 2022 to critical acclaim. In August 2022, the series was renewed for a second season.
The Rehearsal features Nathan Fielder helping ordinary people rehearse difficult conversations or life events through the use of sets and actors hired to recreate real situations. The situations can be trivial, like confessing to a lie about educational history, or more complex, like raising a child. Fielder commissions extravagant sets with every detail recreated. He hires actors to inhabit these sets and practice different dialogue trees with his clients dozens of times. Information used to train the actors and build the sets is often collected without the subjects' knowledge.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by ||Original air date||U.S. viewers|
|1||"Orange Juice, No Pulp"||Nathan Fielder||Nathan Fielder||July 15, 2022||0.055|
|Nathan Fielder helps Kor Skeete, a trivia-obsessed New Yorker who wants to confess to his bar trivia team that he lied about having a master's degree. Nathan reveals an elaborate method of rehearsals involving an actor (K. Todd Freeman) playing a "fake Kor". To help Kor rehearse the difficult conversation with his friend Tricia, Nathan creates simulations of trivia night with a fake Tricia in a full-scale replica of the Alligator Lounge, a Brooklyn bar. Kor overcomes his fears and makes his confession to the real Tricia, who responds with understanding. After Kor wins the trivia competition due to Nathan's trickery, Nathan faces anxiety over how people will react to his deceptions.|
|2||"Scion"||Nathan Fielder||Nathan Fielder & Carrie Kemper & Eric Notarnicola||July 22, 2022||0.056|
|Nathan develops a rehearsal for Angela, a woman considering motherhood. Nathan hires child actors to simulate adopting and caring for a baby and sets her up in a rented farmhouse in rural Oregon. Due to Oregon child protection laws, Nathan's team must covertly switch out the baby every four hours and replace it with a robot baby at night. Seeking a simulated husband, Angela dates Robbin, a numerology-obsessed man who wants to have sex with Angela despite her devout Christian beliefs against premarital sex. When Robbin quits the project due to the robot baby's incessant crying, Nathan inserts himself into the experiment as Angela's non-romantic co-parent.|
|3||"Gold Digger"||Nathan Fielder||Nathan Fielder & Carrie Kemper & Eric Notarnicola||July 29, 2022||0.117|
|Nathan and Angela accelerate their parenting rehearsal with three-year-old, then six-year-old actors portraying their fake son, "Adam". Angela refuses to participate in Halloween due to her belief in Satanic conspiracies. Nathan balances parenting duties with a rehearsal for Patrick, a man who wants to confront his brother over their late grandfather's will, which bans Patrick from inheriting money if he is dating a "gold digger". The rehearsal occurs in a replica Raising Cane's restaurant in a warehouse next to the relocated Alligator Lounge. To introduce real emotions to the rehearsal, Nathan stages a scenario to convince Patrick that he could inherit buried gold from the grandfather of Isaac, the actor who plays Patrick's brother. After Patrick has an emotional breakthrough during a rehearsal, he leaves the production and never returns. Nathan narrates that he is envious that self-deception is easy for some people as he ponders his fake family.|
|4||"The Fielder Method"||Nathan Fielder||Nathan Fielder & Carrie Kemper & Eric Notarnicola||August 5, 2022||0.087|
|To recruit actors for his rehearsals, Nathan opens an acting studio in Los Angeles, teaching "the Fielder Method", which involves covertly observing and imitating unaware subjects. Feeling insecure about his own performance, Nathan reenacts the class with actors and a fake Nathan as the teacher while the real Nathan plays the role of Thomas, a student. Nathan makes his students immerse themselves in other people's lives while he immerses himself in Thomas's life, even living in Thomas's home. Nathan returns to Oregon, where his "son", Adam, is now a teenager. Nathan and Joshua, the actor playing Adam, decide that Adam should lash out due to resentment of his absentee father and develop a drug problem, a situation that mirrors Angela's own past. Adam suffers an overdose and is tended to by emergency responders played by Thomas and another Fielder Method graduate. After he runs away from home, the 15-year-old Adam reverts to a 6-year-old since Nathan plans to relive his son's earlier years.|
|5||"Apocalypto"||Nathan Fielder||Nathan Fielder & Carrie Kemper & Eric Notarnicola||August 12, 2022||0.069|
|Nathan decides to practice his own assertiveness in relationships by challenging Angela over their son's religious upbringing. Angela, a fervent Christian, refuses to allow Adam to be raised in Nathan's Jewish faith, so Nathan secretly brings his son to lessons with a tutor in Judaism under the pretense of swimming lessons. Seeking solace outside the house, Nathan opens his replica Alligator Lounge to the public under the name Nate's Lizard Lounge. The co-parents argue over a comedy skit featuring six-year-old Adam as "Dr. Fart" and a joke about eating feces, which Angela claims is a Satanic practice. Nathan rehearses the confrontations with a fake Angela, and in one scenario, she harshly criticizes Nathan's emotional detachment and questions the ethics of the entire production. However, in their real final confrontation, Angela simply decides to quit the rehearsal. Nathan continues to raise Adam, now as a single parent.|
|6||"Pretend Daddy"||Nathan Fielder||Nathan Fielder & Carrie Kemper & Eric Notarnicola||August 19, 2022||0.117|
|Nathan stages a ninth birthday party for Adam, but faces a problem when Remy, one of the child actors who played Adam at age six, becomes attached to Nathan, calling him "daddy" even after his scenes are over. Remy's mother explains that her son might have trouble understanding the difference between acting and reality. To discover what went wrong, Nathan repeats Remy's scenes with different actors including Liam (a nine-year-old Adam actor), an adult actor, and a mannequin. He then explores what might have happened if Angela had stayed with him and meets with the real Angela, who urges him to forgive himself, as her religious beliefs state. In an attempt to truly understand the connection between parent and child, Nathan stages a new scenario in which he is Remy's mother Amber and Liam portrays Remy. They re-create the experience of appearing on The Rehearsal and becoming attached to "pretend daddy" Nathan. After coming to the emotional realization that they should not have done the show, Nathan as Amber seemingly breaks character and tells the fake Remy, "I'm your dad."|
The premise for The Rehearsal grew out of Fielder's series Nathan for You. In preparation for the earlier series, Fielder and his team would role-play scenarios to predict how real people would react to his ridiculous suggestions, an exercise that often proved inaccurate. Fielder was inspired by the futility of the human impulse to control one's own future, which he found to be "really funny."
Some of the humor in The Rehearsal is derived from its extravagant sets. In the first episode, Fielder constructs a perfect duplicate of the bar in which the subject's difficult conversation is to take place. He also constructs a duplicate of the subject's house to practice their first conversation.
On August 19, 2022, HBO renewed the series for a second season.
The series was first teased in 2019 as part of Fielder's deal with HBO. The title The Rehearsal was revealed in June 2021. In June 2022, a teaser was released, and a poster showing a release date of July 15, 2022.
The series has received critical acclaim, with some praising it as one of the best new series of 2022. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 93% approval rating with an average rating of 9.3/10, based on 45 critic reviews. The website's critics consensus reads, "The Rehearsal gives Nathan Fielder carte blanche to take his absurdist comedy to the limit, which he pushes even further past with deadpan aplomb in what might be his most uncomfortably funny feat yet." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 86 out of 100 based on 23 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
In The New York Times Critic's Pick review, James Poniewozik wrote, "the show has a philosophical core: Is it ever possible to truly understand another person? And there's a tender, even beautiful side to its surreal moments." The Rehearsal has been compared to the work of Charlie Kaufman in Synecdoche, New York and the Tom McCarthy novel Remainder. The show has been described as a spiritual successor to Nathan For You, since both shows share a premise of Fielder helping average people in humorous ways. Vulture described Fielder's "willingness to screw with people" to put them in situations that might embarrass them or cause them to do things that are out of character being the core thread of his work.
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