The Rehearsal – What We Know So Far
Most people know Nathan Fielder for co-creating the hit parody, Nathan for You, which used to air on Comedy Central. He graced our screens again this year with the critically-acclaimed psychological thriller The Rehearsal.
Making its debut on HBO and Disney+, The Rehearsal has been met with overwhelming approval from both audiences and critics.
Nathan Fielder has a unique talent for making viewers uncomfortable in the best way- the show will make you squirm in your seats, but you won’t be able to look away either. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but not many can deny that The Rehearsal is a work of art.
Written and directed by Nathan Fielder, The Rehearsal features its lead (Fielder) as the director of increasingly elaborate staged scenarios that recreate everyday events of real life.
These performances are treated as “rehearsals” to help a person prepare for something important he must do in real life. This can be anything, ranging from a job interview or a confession of love to a difficult choice that must be made to further one’s life.
The show is especially hailed for its meta-universe and an unsettlingly realistic portrayal of the behind-the-scenes of reality TV. So far, only one episode has aired.
Each “rehearsal” is played out more than a dozen times, in a hundred different ways, accounting for as many possible scenarios – different weather, a bad mood, unignorable interruptions, and so on.
Actors who look and act as similarly as possible to real people are hired. And with each passing iteration, both the audience and Fielder’s client become more and more discomfited by the way the lines between reality and fiction start to blur.
The jewel of this elaborate framework is Fielder himself- initially, he comes across as charmingly guileless and eager to help, subtly encouraging people to let their guard down and allow him to assist them with their problems.
In doing so, they are falling into a trap of sorts because as the episode progresses, Fielder is gradually revealed to enjoy somewhat messing with people’s perception of reality, to play with their minds and the audiences in order to satisfy his curiosity.
The rehearsals seem like nothing more than an endless cycle of narcissism on Fielder’s end and crippling self-consciousness on the clients.
Despite this cynical reading, the show has some straightforward philosophical questions at its core, “How much do we control our future? Can we ever truly know someone?” which provides a subtle beauty to the show’s more surreal moments.
It is a mildly sadistic social experiment presented as altruism. And therein lies The Rehearsal’s brilliance.
In the first episode of The Rehearsal, Fielder’s client is a man who wishes to confess to his bar-trivia partner that he’s been lying about his educational background.
Fielder helps by asking his crew to design a set that is the perfect replica of the bar frequented by the client. A series of rehearsals occur, each of which differs slightly from the one before.
Every variable account for what drinks might be ordered, where they might sit, who the bartender could be, etc. Various types of interruptions are planned for.
Fielder even hires an actress who looks like the man’s friend and then even sends her to meet the woman to be able to mimic her during the rehearsals convincingly.
Over and over again, this is repeated, every possible deviation accounted for until the client finally feels confident enough to hold the conversation in real life.
At first glance, this seems innocuous, harmless even. Fielder is simply going a bit overboard in helping a man prepare for a critical moment of his life.
However, as the recently-released trailer of The Rehearsal suggests, the scenario to be rehearsed in each episode grows increasingly intimate and, therefore, disturbing to see it played out as a rehearsal.
For example, the next few episodes will feature a woman who wishes to rehearse for motherhood to decide whether or not she should have children.
Fielder obliges without pause, building a set that looks like the woman’s house and hiring child actors, even a baby still in its crib. The disturbing factor starts creeping in here, watching these children referring to another woman as their mother.
At the same time, the baby cries in distress, as shown in the trailer, and is more or less ignored by the crew behind the scenes, following Fielder’s orders.
Whether all these fake scenarios will result in a disastrous climax or not remains to be seen in the show’s far-off season finale.
Can we expect a second season?
When it comes to TV shows, the fear of cancellation is a prospect everyone faces, be it the dedicated fans eagerly waiting for updates or the creators themselves.
All shows must end at some point, of course, but the “when” of it is the crucial question. Ultimately, the power of this decision is in the hands of the network or the streaming service that the show airs on. In this case, HBO.
As of today (22nd of July, 2022), HBO has yet to break any news of cancellation or renewal for season 2 of The Rehearsal.
Is this appropriate for children to watch?
It is possibly safest to restrain children below the age of 18 from watching it, as it may hurt their mental and emotional state of mind.