Morally, ethically, you'll be torn by Nathan Fielder's bizarre TV experiment to "rehearse" life's big moments -and you won't be able to look away.
At first I wasn’t sure whether I loved or hated The Rehearsal.
It’s part-Truman Show, part-Big Brother and part-absolute-pyscho-stalker.
But I did find myself frquently yelling at my TV screen, “Get out! Get out! GET OUT!”
The more it went on (I’ve now seen three episodes) the further down the rabbit hole I went.
The Rehearsal, by comedian Nathan Fielder, is one of the more bizarre television concepts I’ve seen in a long time.
According to the publicity release, Fielder (Nathan For You, How To with John Wilson), “explores the lengths one man will go to reduce the uncertainties of everyday life. With a construction crew, a legion of actors, and seemingly unlimited resources, Fielder allows ordinary people to prepare for life’s biggest moments by ‘rehearsing’ them in carefully crafted simulations of his own design. When a single misstep could shatter your entire world, why leave life to chance?”
So before your big job interview, or the break-up conversation you are planning to have, or telling someone you’ve been cheating on them (for example), you get to rehearse the whole thing in an elaborately-staged recreation with actors and fake set to prepare you for every possible outcome and principally to orchestrate the outcome you really want.
In episode one, we meet Corr, a TV trivia nut who once lied about having a Master’s degree to impress his new pub quiz friends. He’s decided he really wants to ‘fess up but is worried about how to tell them and is particularly fearful it will be a deal breaker for one female friend.
Fielder, who has even rehearsed his own meeting with Corr (stalker alert?), convinces him to participate in his wild experiment with the aid of actors and a meticulously-reconstructed pub set. The attention to detail is scary…. right down to the floating balloon stuck in the ceiling. Actors will play pub staff, drinkers and his trivia friend. But there are also some downright devious reality tactics employed of which Corr is not aware of.
In episode two we meet Angela, a deeply Christian 30-something who wants to “rehearse” what it might be like to raise a child. Say what? Parents consent to their own babies and toddlers becoming child actors for this experiment, in which Angela is moved into a farmlet to practice life with a baby, with cameras filming it all. I couldn’t help but wonder what those same child actors thought when a crew member climbed in the window to swap them over after 4 hour shifts. Nightmares!
Morally, ethically, you will often be torn by choices.
But here is where the series takes a twist, with Fielder’s own participation shifting, prompting me to ponder…. is The Rehearsal a case study on the participant or the producer? Or both?
Either way, I’m hooked and now I can’t look away.
I’m not sure if these participants are on the spectrum or have wandered away from a Louis Theroux casting call, but Fielder is a nerdy-yet-compelling host in a show that Foxtel is calling a “comedy series.” No way, Jose. It’s much more than that.
I just haven’t landed on what it is as yet, but I’m glued trying to find out.
The Rehearsal airs 9:30pm Sunday on FOX Showcase.