Season 1, Episode 4, “The Fielder Method” & More Latest News – it short news

Nathan Fielder in The Rehearsal

Nathan Fielder in The Rehearsal
Photo: Courtesy of HBO

Can you ever be authentic if you’re crippled by your own self-awareness?

While I ask myself this very question on any given day, I’m jotting it down today because it’s what I was left wondering when I finished the fourth episode of Nathan Fielder’s genre-defying series The Rehearsal. Ostensibly, the nonfiction show is pitched as following the Nathan For You creator/star as he helps “regular folks” rehearse pivotal moments of their life (troublesome conversations with siblings or trivia buddies, the challenges of parenthood, say). Only, with each subsequent episode, that provocative premise (who wouldn’t need teaching and a full-blown manufacturing crew serving to you check out any and each type of flip a sophisticated dialogue with a liked one may take?) has changed into one thing a lot extra bold. But additionally, one thing far more insidious.

To be fair, this was there all along. After he introduced us to Kor, whom Fielder eventually helped, the show revealed that the way its host had so nailed that first interaction with this willing participant was because he’d hired an actor and beta-tested that back-and-forth to exhaustion. Namely, while the rehearsals in the show would be centered on people eager to be helped by the kind of production budget HBO can afford, it was already clear the very conceit of The Rehearsal was, in no small part, a result of how Fielder himself wishes he could live out his life. As someone who often spends sleepless nights reliving idiotic things I’ve said while out and about with friends (“Oh god, I really should’ve said X instead…. What they must think of me now!”), I understand Fielder’s impetus—and his desire to extend such a comfort blanket of an experience to his various guests.

But practicing for real life is just not, well, practical. After all, any simulation will necessarily be a lesser copy. By definition, it can never be the real thing. It can only approximate it. And Fielder seems intent on making his rehearsals as authentic as possible—which requires a degree of fabulation that necessarily pushes him into ethically murky territory. This is someone who sets up a fake acting school in Los Angeles where he encourages would-be actors to stalk people in order to better impersonate them and who, without a glint of irony (I think? Or is he that good of an actor?) tells the class that this is the kind of gig where, if you get it wrong, you could ruin someone’s life.

That entire scene and the questions it raises are also on Fielder’s mind. It’s why he then sets up not a rehearsal but a recreation of that first class, so he can better understand his students’ many concerns. Here he is yet again inserting himself into this life-as-acting exercise he’s been concocting throughout. Only this time, he’s not just a mere participant. He’s become an actor. Thomas, in fact. I’ll admit the sight of Fielder in a wig(!) made me laugh. But not as loud as when, later in the episode, Fielder and Thomas share the following exchange, after the aspiring actor confesses to Fielder why he’s struggling with his assignment:

“I don’t like lying to people,” Thomas says.

And then, in the most deadpan way possible, Fielder responds with the following: “No, neither do I.”

It’s the kind of moment that feels so absurd that I couldn’t help but double over. But in that laughter I recognized the bait-and-switch The Rehearsal keeps pulling on us. For I do believe Fielder when he says he doesn’t like to lie. Only, he knows it’s a necessary part of his job. His mission, even.

Nathan Fielder in The Rehearsal

Nathan Fielder in The Rehearsal
Photo: Courtesy of HBO

But that entire experiment, wherein he tried to become Thomas to better understand himself and his own class, struck me as taking this entire premise too far. It’s getting harder and harder to keep track of this nesting doll of a proposition, but one thing continues to be clear: This is an exploration of Nathan Fielder’s own method of madness. This makes the choice of reshaping Adam’s own growing up/personality when he gets back to Eagle Creek all that easier to understand. That has stopped being an exercise in Angela’s service. It will now remain squarely in the service of Fielder’s own interests. I’m hesitant to try to attach words like “selfishness” and “solipsism” to these choices, but when you orchestrate a fake opiate overdose to better capture how a teenage kid would react if a father figure would be gone for years on end because that’s the story as you’ve experienced it, you have to wonder where it’s all headed.

Which is all to say: I can’t be the only one horrified by this episode, right? And terrified also by the way in which Fielder must keenly be aware of how terrifying he’s coming across. Which brings me back to that question about self-awareness, which keeps nagging at me. There’s such an investment in authenticity in all of these “rehearsals,” yet Fielder cannot ever get out of his head. He’s reaching for emotional veracity (in himself as he demands of his actors and thus of his participants), but it all seems like it’s forever out of reach for him. Is this why he’s so much more comfortable in these “rehearsals” when he’s in them himself? Are we building up to a point where the falsities around him stop being crutches and risk becoming the real thing? Is he intentionally trying to drive us insane by reminding us how performative our everyday lives are? Guess we’ll find out next week.

Stray observations

  • “You did cocaine?!” will be the line of the episode. Hands down.
  • I did love the visible flourish on the finish of the episode (the slide transition) and love that Fielder saved the teenage actor taking part in Adam popping out of the slide (“Is that it?”) and breaking no matter model of verisimilitude that fantasy transformation may have created. We’re in Brechtian territory right here, in spite of everything.
  • As a lot as I’m fascinated by the thematic considerations of The Rehearsal, I’m equally as intrigued by its personal logistics. I used to be left questioning, for example, how Fielder & Co. arrived at utilizing Eagle Creek, Oregon as their residence base. What was it about this neighborhood that made it such an excellent match for these numerous rehearsals? Fielder notes Eagle Creek had lots to supply solely to point out us, in a John Wilson-esque flourish, pictures of two indicators: a makeshift one which reads “We have eggs now” (above one other that reads “BROWN EGGS”) and a extra skilled wanting one promoting “Pole Buildings.” Similarly—and particularly throughout that really WTF OD second—I saved questioning how in management Fielder is. We’ve seen how fingers on he’s so…did he know the overdose was going to occur? (Did Angela?) And if he did, what goal did it serve?
  • I’m nonetheless caught up on the truth that the denim jacket Thomas is sporting on his first day at Nathan’s workshop options, in its again, a picture of a fluffy cat with the phrases “Eat Me” emblazoned over it. I don’t know what to do with this data apart from word how prominently it’s framed. It’s exhausting to overlook—but additionally exhausting to make sense of. In a fictional present, I’d level out the way it could also be telling us one thing about Thomas however, actually, I don’t know what I’d say about such a costuming selection apart from it helps additional baffle us about who Thomas is as a person. (Also, once more, I need a full-blown interview with the numerous actors who participated within the present—both as themselves throughout these lessons or as performers within the precise rehearsals as a result of…I’ve questions!)
  • An apart: I agree with Fielder, actors might be very intimidating. Also, Barry crossover when?
  • I’m asking you all, as soon as once more, to look at Synecdoche, New York. And I’ll cease suggesting you do once I cease writing “How Kaufman-esque!” in my notes after each single episode.  

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