Orange Juice, No Pulp -| Review Score – 5/5
Scion -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Gold Digger -| Review Score – 5/5
The Fielder Method -| Review Score – 5/5
Apocalypto -| Review Score – 5/5
Pretend Daddy -| Review Score – 5/5
Nathan Fielder’s reality show The Rehearsal is full of absurd scenarios: a covert baby-switch through the window of a newly-constructed farmhouse; a silent birthday party populated only by people miming their interactions; a fake death.
The purpose of the show is simple, even if its execution is anything but. By hiring actors and replicating relevant settings, Fielder helps people rehearse for big moments in their lives. But the question of preparing for life by perfecting a likeness has trickier implications than Fielder expected.
Throughout the course of the series, Fielder’s simulations become more complicated, convoluted, and controlling as he wrests the rehearsals away from their original subjects and focuses the lens on his own personal journey. Rather than deliver a kitschy reality concept as expected from such a pitch, this comedy docudrama asks the tough questions, including, “Can you really prepare for anything?”
This exploration draws a fine line between simulation and manipulation. When creating a rehearsal for Angela, a 40-year-old Christian woman wondering if it’s time to have a baby, Fielder manufactures an incredible operation consisting of a plethora of child actors and essentially a new life for Angela.
But what begins simply as a preparatory exercise starts to fold in on itself as Fielder becomes more and more obsessed with perfecting the rehearsal, reliving scenarios again and again from different perspectives until we can’t be quite sure where reality begins and ends.
The original purpose of the rehearsal starts to fade away along with Angela, and Fielder’s controlling hand in this evokes challenging questions about the ethics of his approach. The unique thing about Fielder’s show, however, is that it invites and revels in these questions, getting us to challenge previously held notions (regarding, for example, the inner workings of “reality TV” or the exploitative nature of hiring child actors).
In the end, The Rehearsal’s messages are positive ones. Live the life you want to live. Seize each moment. Forgive your mistakes, and learn to move on. It may seem overcomplicated to arrive at such conclusions through a complex facsimile of authenticity–but Fielder’s delivery makes every deduction feel so fresh and revelatory, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more hilarious show with as many creative and poignant reflections.
The door is open for The Rehearsal to take on a new shape, and it’s a mystery where Fielder will take us in season 2–but it’s certain to be surreal, funny, and insightful with Nathan Fielder at the helm.