The Rehearsal
GenreComedy
Created byNathan Fielder
StarringNathan Fielder
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes6
Production
Executive producers
  • Nathan Fielder
  • Christie Smith
  • Clark Reinking
  • Dan McManus
  • Dave Paige
Running time27–44 minutes
Production companyBlow Out Productions
Original release
NetworkHBO
ReleaseJuly 15, 2022 (2022-07-15) –
present (present)

The Rehearsal is an American docu-comedy television series created, written, 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.

Premise

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.[1] 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.[2]

Production

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."[3]

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.[2]

On August 19, 2022, HBO renewed the series for a second season.[4]

Release

The series was first teased in 2019 as part of Fielder's deal with HBO.[5] The title The Rehearsal was revealed in June 2021.[6] In June 2022, a teaser was released,[7] and a poster showing a release date of July 15, 2022.[8]

Episodes

No.TitleDirected byWritten by [9]Original air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
1"Orange Juice, No Pulp"Nathan FielderNathan FielderJuly 15, 2022 (2022-07-15)0.055[10]
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 FielderNathan Fielder & Carrie Kemper & Eric NotarnicolaJuly 22, 2022 (2022-07-22)0.056[12]
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,[11] 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 FielderNathan Fielder & Carrie Kemper & Eric NotarnicolaJuly 29, 2022 (2022-07-29)0.117[13]
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 FielderNathan Fielder & Carrie Kemper & Eric NotarnicolaAugust 5, 2022 (2022-08-05)0.087[14]
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 FielderNathan Fielder & Carrie Kemper & Eric NotarnicolaAugust 12, 2022 (2022-08-12)0.069[15]
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 FielderNathan Fielder & Carrie Kemper & Eric NotarnicolaAugust 19, 2022 (2022-08-19)0.117[16]
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."

Reception

Critical response

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 95% approval rating with an average rating of 9.4/10, based on 56 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."[17] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 86 out of 100 based on 23 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[18]

The Rehearsal appeared in the top ten on numerous publications' "Best of 2022" lists, including first for Far Out, IndieWire, The Ringer, and ScreenCrush, among others.[19]

Analysis

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?"[20] Vox's Alissa Wilkinson likewise called the show "an excellent reminder that we know much less about others than we think we do," and compared it to the writings of Leslie Jamison and Martin Buber.[21]

The show's blurring of simulation and reality have drawn comparisons to the Charlie Kaufman film Synecdoche, New York and the Tom McCarthy novel Remainder.[22][23] The series 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" and 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.[2]

Many critics viewed the show as a critique of the exploitive and disingenuous nature of reality television, with writer Israel Daramola of Los Angeles Review of Books calling it "a commentary on...the inherent phoniness of reality television as well as the faults and constrictions of acting as representation of real life."[24] The series' central idea of rehearsing and performing social interactions resonated with many autistic viewers, who viewed it as an analogy for masking.[25][26] Variety writer Daniel D’Addario highlighted the series' ultimate message that "all of us are performing, all the time."[23]

Accolades

Accolades received by The Rehearsal
Award Year Category Recipient Result Ref.
Cinema Eye Honors 2022 Heterodox Award Nathan Fielder Nominated [27]
Independent Spirit Awards 2023 Best New Non-Scripted or Documentary Series Nathan Fielder, Dave Paige, Dan McManus, Christie Smith, Carrie Kemper, and Eric Notarnicola Won [28]
Gotham Independent Film Awards 2022 Breakthrough Nonfiction Series Nathan Fielder, Dave Paige, Dan McManus, and Christie Smith Nominated [29]

References

  1. ^ Whiting, Amanda (July 18, 2022). "The Rehearsal is the most uncomfortable show ever made". The Independent. Archived from the original on July 25, 2022. Retrieved July 25, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c VanArendonk, Kathryn (July 15, 2022). "Nathan Fielder's Dazzling, Horrifying Trial Run of Reality". Vulture. Archived from the original on July 25, 2022. Retrieved July 25, 2022.
  3. ^ Shapiro, Lila (July 5, 2022). "Nathan Fielder Is Out of His Mind (and Inside Yours)". Vulture. Archived from the original on July 16, 2022. Retrieved July 17, 2022.
  4. ^ White, Peter (August 19, 2022). "Nathan Fielder's 'The Rehearsal' Renewed At HBO For Season 2". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on August 19, 2022. Retrieved August 19, 2022.
  5. ^ Otterson, Joe (August 12, 2019). "Nathan Fielder Sets HBO Overall Deal, Docu-Series and Comedy Pilot (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Archived from the original on March 7, 2021. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  6. ^ Tenreyro, Tatiana (June 25, 2021). "Nathan Fielder is starring in an awkward new show for HBO". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on July 7, 2022. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  7. ^ Schimkowitz, Matt (June 15, 2022). "Nathan Fielder drops a teaser for his mysterious HBO show The Rehearsal". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on July 7, 2022. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  8. ^ Lopez, Kristen (June 18, 2022). "'The Rehearsal': Nathan Fielder's HBO Max Series Gets Release Date". IndieWire. Archived from the original on July 18, 2022. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  9. ^ "The Rehearsal – Episodes". Writers Guild of America West. Archived from the original on July 25, 2022. Retrieved July 11, 2022.
  10. ^ Salem, Mitch (July 18, 2022). "ShowBuzzDaily's Friday 7.15.2022 Top 150 Cable Originals & Network Finals Updated". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on July 18, 2022. Retrieved July 18, 2022.
  11. ^ Jackson, Gita (July 26, 2022). "The Most Fascinating Guest on 'The Rehearsal,' Who Crashed a Scion TC at 100 MPH, Did Not Enjoy His Time on the Show". Vice. Archived from the original on July 26, 2022. Retrieved July 26, 2022.
  12. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (July 25, 2022). "ShowBuzzDaily's Friday 7.22.2022 Top 150 Cable Originals & Network Finals Updated". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on July 31, 2022. Retrieved July 25, 2022.
  13. ^ Salem, Mitch (August 1, 2022). "ShowBuzzDaily's Friday 7.29.2022 Top 150 Cable Originals & Network Finals Updated". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on August 10, 2022. Retrieved August 1, 2022.
  14. ^ Salem, Mitch (August 8, 2022). "ShowBuzzDaily's Friday 8.5.2022 Top 150 Cable Originals & Network Finals Updated". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on August 20, 2022. Retrieved August 8, 2022.
  15. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (August 15, 2022). "ShowBuzzDaily's Friday 8.12.2022 Top 150 Cable Originals & Network Finals Updated". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on August 27, 2022. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  16. ^ Salem, Mitch (August 22, 2022). "ShowBuzzDaily's Friday 8.19.2022 Top 150 Cable Originals & Network Finals Updated". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on August 25, 2022. Retrieved August 22, 2022.
  17. ^ "The Rehearsal: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved January 1, 2023.
  18. ^ "The Rehearsal: Season 1". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved January 1, 2023.
  19. ^ Dietz, Jason (December 5, 2022). "Best of 2022: Television Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Archived from the original on December 16, 2022. Retrieved March 7, 2023.
  20. ^ Poniewozik, James (July 14, 2022). "Review: In 'The Rehearsal,' All the World Is Staged". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on July 16, 2022. Retrieved July 16, 2022.
  21. ^ Wilkinson, Alissa (August 20, 2022). "What Nathan Fielder's The Rehearsal says about us". Vox. Retrieved December 29, 2023.
  22. ^ Nayman, Adam (July 9, 2022). "In 'The Rehearsal,' Nathan Fielder's surreal comic genius takes a metaphysical turn". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on August 21, 2022. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  23. ^ a b D'Addario, Daniel (July 11, 2022). "Nathan Fielder's HBO Series 'The Rehearsal' Makes Uncomfortable Art From Mockery: TV Review". Variety. Archived from the original on July 24, 2022. Retrieved July 25, 2022.
  24. ^ Daramola, Israel (October 14, 2022). "When Reality Isn't: On Nathan Fielder's "The Rehearsal"". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved December 29, 2023.
  25. ^ Malone, Emerson (August 24, 2022). "It Makes Sense That "The Rehearsal" Resonates With Autistic Viewers". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved December 29, 2023.
  26. ^ Rosenberg, Sam (August 30, 2022). "How Nathan Fielder's The Rehearsal Affirms My Experience with Autism". Consequence. Retrieved December 29, 2023.
  27. ^ Jones, Marcus (November 10, 2022). "'Fire of Love' and 'The Territory' Lead 2023 Cinema Eye Honors Nonfiction Film Nominees". IndieWire. Archived from the original on November 10, 2022. Retrieved January 1, 2023.
  28. ^ Petski, Denise; Hipes, Patrick (December 13, 2022). "Film Independent Spirit Awards TV Nominations: 'Abbott Elementary', 'Pachinko', 'The Bear' 'Severance', More". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on January 28, 2023. Retrieved January 1, 2023.
  29. ^ Lewis, Hilary (November 28, 2022). "'Everything Everywhere All at Once' Tops Gotham Awards; Full Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on November 29, 2022. Retrieved January 1, 2023.