Cringe comedy titan Nathan Fielder is back, and he’s been practicing.
On Wednesday, HBO debuted the first trailer for “The Rehearsal,” a new unscripted series starring Fielder, who also serves as writer, director, and executive producer. Like Comedy Central’s cult hit “Nathan for You,” which amassed a loyal following during its four-season run, the show meets Fielder at the intersection of good intentions and intensely awkward missteps. In each episode, Fielder will help his subjects rehearse for big moments in their lives — a scary decision, a difficult conversation, etc. — using trained actors and elaborate replicas of real places.
“It was a very expensive pilot,” Fielder said in an interview with Vulture. The first episode includes a recreation of Brooklyn’s Alligator Lounge, where a participant plans to have a hard talk with a friend. “One of the crew members told me the cost to replicate that bar was probably more than it cost to build the real bar.”
The series’ concept is being marked as an examination of “the lengths one man will go to reduce the uncertainties of everyday life.” But the trailer portends a powerful emotional experience closer to “This American Life” than “Kitchen Nightmares.” “It’s sort of universal that people want to have control over their lives,” Fielder continued. “There’s something really funny to that compulsion.”
The comedian reportedly conceived “The Rehearsal” while attempting to plan for contingencies on “Nathan for You.” IndieWire named “Nathan for You,” which aired from 2013 to 2017, “the greatest reality TV show ever made.”
IndieWire’s Steve Greene writes of Fielder’s speciality: “The lifeblood of reality shows and unscripted programming is a populace willing to throw themselves at the mercy of TV production in exchange for a possible beneficial outcome. Whether it’s social media stars who face being categorized as a cultural hero or villain, an ordinary schmuck with it a stamp collection that could be worth a couple years of college tuition, or a pair of would-be homeowners hoping to land the right fixer-upper, beyond the waiver that participants sign for any show to use their likeness, there’s an unspoken contract that being on TV means never really having control of your own story.”
“The Rehearsal” premieres July 15 on HBO Max. Check out the trailer below.