Nathan for You is a reality show, hosted by Nathan Fielder. Nathan Fielder is a person I do not understand, despite having watched each episode of his so-called reality more than once.
Watching Nathan For You has been — pretty much from the beginning — about the process of the viewer trying to figure out who Fielder is. Making Nathan For You, on the other hand, seems to have been — from slightly after the beginning — the process of Fielder trying to find out the same thing for himself.
I believe I have written about reality television at some point before, although I cannot fully recall when. The Real World definitely came up in something I wrote in earlybut I think that was mostly in the context of writing about the film American Teen, a movie I was briefly obsessed with.
So this is where we begin, I suppose. I call a non-reality show a reality show, and we try to find the happy medium from there. The basic construction of a standard episode of Nathan For You goes as follows: Nathan Fielder enters a business that is looking to become more successful, pitches an idea that seems like it could only possibly make the business less successful, and convinces the proprietors that this pitch is not a terrible idea.
Since a person with a camera crew is pitching the businesses these absurd ideas, for some reason the people who make it into the final cuts of the episodes trust that being surrounded by said crew means that the ideas captured on camera have been vetted.Clear fail2ban ubuntu
The subjects of Nathan For You are so used to reality television being prevalent in culture that they presumably assume this show will eventually be edited into something as boring and normal-seeming as an episode of Property Brothers, and presumably these subjects blame their ignorance of how television is produced on assuming the man in the windbreaker pitching these crazy ideas is not actually a crazy person.
And yet people still do what Fielder asks. This construction of a certain sort of reality leads to some unreal levels of humour. I feel obligated to note that Nathan For You often seems to be built on the outright stupidity of others.
In my semi-professional existence, I have to sign contracts pretty frequently. Due to the aforementioned semi-ness of my professionalism, I cannot afford a lawyer to look over my contracts, so surely it is relatively easy to slip a clause or two past me. Usually I am given these contracts in a situation that is not ideal to take fifteen minutes to stop a meeting and go read some legalese, so I read the contract in a room where it seems more than plausible I could miss a line in a contract.
Usually these contracts come from established businesses or organizations, so I assume they are not trying to screw me over, which is exactly the thought process these Nathan For You subjects go through on camera.
Do I think people should read contracts before they sign them? Do I think the average person should be able to sort out that the show they are participating in is a prank show? Most of the time, yes. I suppose I worry that in the same situation I might react in the same way.
In the episodes that more or less fit the Nathan For You formula, the most intriguing moments are always when Fielder seems to be genuinely surprised. In the ghost realtor episode — where the realtor drops the informational bomb that a spirit once attacked her in Switzerland — Fielder appears to have no idea this information was coming. Naturally, anybody writing about Nathan For You has to reference its outlier episodes, if only partially because the most recent season wrapped up with its biggest outlier yet.
Finding Frances, the season four finale, has spawned more thinkpieces including my own in the weeks after its release than everything Nathan For You has done since going on the air in February It is not the most widely known moment of the show that would be Dumb Starbucksbut Finding Frances seems to be the call to action for all the dummies like me who have thought about this show for four years without quite being able to find our way into its world.
Fielder wants us all to know that this world is a lie, but he refuses to outright tell us.Or it would have if this was any other show on television.
There were occasional laughs, but for the most part, this was a deadly serious affair. This time, the toughest moments were downright painful and unmistakably human.
The story focuses on Bill Heath, who had posed as a Bill Gates impersonator in a previous episode. We find out that while recording DVD commentary, he had talked to Nathan a lot about a long-lost love named Frances, who he wishes he had married. Later revelations prove that to be a bit of a half-truth.
Still, he cares about her a lot, and is desperate for closure. Nathan agrees to help him on his quest, and we begin the most ambitious journey this show has ever embarked upon.
At times, he seems like an utterly sincere man looking to undo or at least repair a costly mistake from his youth. Other times, he seems like a lecherous old man, and when Nathan asks if he had ever stalked her, he seems a bit dodgy.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle; Bill is a deeply flawed man who often seems unaware of how to handle himself around women, but at the same time, his feelings for Frances are completely sincere, and it was hard not empathize with him in spite of his many faults. The road to Frances begins with Nathan finding the year book from her high school in Dumas, Arkansas.Salt lake city drug bust
This early sequence involves Nathan posing as a member of the crew for Mud 2: Never Cleanthe fictitious sequel to a real movie that was filmed there in We get some early leads on the whereabouts of Frances, but it never goes anywhere. He decides to meet with her himself and quickly becomes enamored with her. We frequently watch Nathan engage in increasingly elaborate stunts, and at some point, you have to wonder how much of a toll that takes on him.
Comedian of the Year Nathan Fielder Redefines Reality TV
This leads us to an obituary that lists her current location, in Michigan. He now becomes convinced that he can get Frances to leave her husband. He could accept her being happy with another man in theory, but not in practice.
He inappropriately touches her leg in one scene, and seems unwilling to look at it from any point of view other than his own. Embarking on this adventure with Nathan might not have given him the happy ending what he wanted, but it did give him a new perspective about himself.And, in retrospect, I feel bad.
By now we all know reality TV is nothing but an illusion of reality, a vision carefully produced and edited together by desperate ratings-chasers. I also, I think, disregarded the emotional risk that Heath so clearly invested in that journey.
Heath feels pain as he reads unearthed letters, ones that reveal his infidelity and desire to choose a career in Hollywood over her. The heart remembers better than the mind, it goes to show; we long for the feelings, but forget the facts.
Part of getting older is romanticizing that which is no longer attainable — youth, innocence, and love are a few examples. So, yeah, this journey was a very real one for Bill. Heath made himself about as vulnerable as one can in that moment, and for someone to insinuate that the person who orchestrated that trip may have been simply playing a character? Well, I would be offended, too. Whether he pleases a business owner or pisses them off, he still angles towards developing some kind of relationship with them.
He fishes for compliments, prolongs goodbyes, and awkwardly asks people out for beers. In the world of the show, at least, no one takes him up on it. But that only made Fielder that much more invested in becoming his friend. However staged, it was genuinely moving when Wolfe asked Fielder to toss a football around in the season four celebration special. Which character did he most resemble in real life? Did he resemble any?
How does he interact in the real world? But Cohen was playing characters. Comedy writer Tony Barbieri transformed into Jake Byrd when infiltrating a Roy Moore rally ; actor Mark Proksch was yo-yo expert K-Strass when he crashed a slew of morning shows ; and the guys of comedy outfit Chad Goes Deep donned beanies and surfer bro accents when they recently went before the LA City Council to try and save house parties.
We assume, then, that Nathan is a character, too. And the question of what kind of division lies between him and his onscreen avatar has dominated many an article about him. But the general consensus among reporters and colleagues is nothing so sensational.
Most people in comedy are awkward socially. All of these sentiments echo what Heath told me. The 2 times I met Nathan he was very nice to me. I have no hard feelings toward him nor will I, I am thankful and very grateful for the opportunity. I think he will continue to be successful and we will see him for a long time in the future. And the question arises: What does one hope to find by looking past the performance?
As Heath spends time with family in Little Rock, Nathan begins biding his time with Maci, a local escort. He pays for her time, and the two chat, have drinks, and talk about his TV show. They hold hands in ways that recall the innocence of a pre-teen crush.Are you ready to experience the ride of your life!?
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Sign Up for Free.His desire to help Bill is thus a hand outstretched from one weird loner to another. The episode culminates in a big stunt in which Nathan — disguised, with facial prosthetics and a bodysuit, as a socially inept, part-time arcade worker named Corey — performs a tightrope walk for a breast-cancer charity in order to make Corey look like a national hero.
Sensing that Bill, who never married or had children, needs practice talking to women, Nathan hires an escort named Maci. Bill wants to approach her front door with cameras in tow, but Nathan convinces him to at least call her first. He does, and over the course of a fifteen-minute conversation, he loses his nerve and he and Nathan end up driving away. But the conversation is agonizing for all the wrong reasons. Most of those articles were written by men, who must not have felt the same tightening of the chest I did as that phone call went on.
Fielder is often congratulated for his commitment to blurring the line between his real self and his TV persona. But it also makes it harder to hold him accountable for any potential harm he may cause to the people who participate on the show. In a way, Nathan for You is a statement about the exploitative nature of the TV industry — how easy it is to treat people as less than human if you promise to put them on camera. Group Combined Shape. Combined Shape Group 2.
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In Finding FrancesNathan Fielder blurs the lines of fact and fiction while forming a relationship with Maci, a professional escort. This draws out the authentic reactions of people when they are caught completely off guard.
This leads the men on a journey from Los Angeles to Arkansas and Oregon. Every person who appears on screen throughout the series seems authentic — minus the fact that people will behave differently, to varying degrees, with a camera around. But the big question mark is Fielder himself: How much of this man is a character and how much is an honest reflection of himself?
It appears that Fielder might not be percent certain himself. The search for Frances lands Fielder in Arkansas for several weeks and gives him a chance to form a seemingly genuine bond with Maci. But is it actually genuine? This is the moment where it becomes very difficult to distinguish what is true and what is false. In a surprisingly complex and emotional scene, Fielder allows the audience to take a cryptic peak behind the curtain.
Through his attempts to blur the lines of fact and fiction, Fielder himself has lost that line. He no longer knows the difference between the person on- and off-camera, nor his motivations for both spaces. His journey to reconnect Bill and Frances gave him a large dose of reality, more than any of his previous shenanigans did. Edit Article Add New Article.
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Grant Sharples. Your notification has been saved. There was a problem saving your notification. Manage followed notifications. Close Followed notifications. Please log in to use this feature Log In.I mean that. Just as many agree that Nathan Fielder is some kind of left-field, deadpan comedy savant.
There is a damn reason for this. And yet so many people gloss over the the simplest question at the heart of Nathan For Youwhich happens to be the one I find the most fascinating:. Seriously, what is this show? But still, is it a prank show? Is it man on the street comedy?
Is it really just a provoking documentary? How much of this show is constructed, anyway? But the driving questions even go beyond that.
Is it because Nathan is very rarely mean himself? Because within that, we create this weird love and bond for the weirdo characters that populate the show. Well, he made quite the impression on everyone, really. And then, he kept coming by the production office, leaving gifts, hanging out, and participating in his favorite topics of conversation: the Arkansas Razorbacks and, of course, his lost love Frances. He had downloaded Bill Gates wikipedia page and then read facts to me about Bill Gates.
Cause he realized HE had fans. But what unfolds goes beyond the mere operatics of the insane schemes that define the show though there are certainly plenty of those.
Still, underneath the layers of armor and oddity, you connect so much to his hidden emotion, his seemingly deep pains of regret that he keeps tucked away from the audience. The nugget, the yearning at the heart of this story. It never breaks. Just as Nathan never breaks. Because it understands that for an audience to truly believe a story, you have to believe every part of it. I am telling you, this is actually critical to all storytelling.
Because if you have a moment where you let the air out? Where you let the audience see the seams? I mean, there a reason most reality breaking fuck-it moments come at the end of a story and not the middle.
Because honestly, I feel like see a lot of other comedy shows mess this up all the time, particularly ones coming from a sketch sensibility. You see they were just going for the better conflict or better joke and not thinking about it.
But again, whatever is on screen, all of it, all of it has to be real. Because what is SNL if they break every single sketch? There is, of course, a flip-side to this where if you show the seams, we have to see ALL the seams.
But that breaking? But within that is the reality being presented within the episode. But the most fascinating part of this is the way he lets her into the larger reality o f the show itself. From there the questions keep bleeding together, what does she really understand about the cameras and the dates that are happening?
Holy shit is this happening? How much do the people on it know and understand?
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