Season 1, Episode 4, “The Fielder Method”

Nathan Fielder at rehearsal

Nathan Fielder in replay
picture: Courtesy of HBO

Can you be authentic if you are limited by your self-consciousness?

As I ask myself this very question on any given day, I’m blogging it today because it’s what I left wondering when I finished the fourth episode of Nathan Fielder’s genre-defying series. replay. Ostensibly, the reality show is presented as follows Nathan for you Creator/star who helps “ordinary people” rehearse pivotal moments in their lives (challenging conversations with siblings or petty friends, parenting challenges, for example). Only, with each subsequent episode, did this provocative premise (who wouldn’t want to train and an entire production crew helping you test what kind of roles a complex discussion with a loved one could take?) into something major. more ambitious. But also, something more subtle.

To be fair, this has been around the whole time. After introducing us to Core, whom Felder eventually helps, the show revealed that the way its host nailed that first interaction with this willing participant was because he hired an actor and Beta tested it back and forth until exhaustion. . Namely, while the rehearsals on the show will center around people who are eager to get a production budget type of help HBO can afford itIt was already obvious arrogance replay It was, in no small part, a result of Felder’s own desire to live his life. As someone who often spends sleepless nights recalling the stupid things I said while outing with friends (“Oh my God, I really should have said X instead…. WThey must think of me now! “), I understand Felder’s motive – AAnd his desire to provide such a comfortable cover for the experience to his different guests.

But practicing in real life is not a good practice. After all, any simulation will necessarily be a lower version. By definition, it can’t be the real thing. He can only approximate it. And Felder seems intent on making his training as authentic as possible – which requires a degree of imagination that necessarily pushes him into morally ambiguous territory. This is the guy who set up a fake acting school in Los Angeles where he encourages would-be actors to chase people for better impersonation and without any glints of sarcasm (I guess? Or is he a good actor?) telling the class this is the kind of party where, if I get it wrong In matter, it might ruin someone’s life.

This whole scene And the questions it raises She is also on Felder’s mind. That is why he then does not prepare a rehearsal but for entertainmentFrom that first semester, so that he could better understand his students’ many interests. He’s reintroducing himself again into this life exercise that he fakes all the time. anly this time, he’s not just a participant. I have become an actor. Thomas, indeed. I’ll admit Felder’s look in a wig(!) It made me laugh. But not as loudly as, later in the episode, Felder and Thomas share the following exchange, after the aspiring actor confesses to Felder why he’s struggling with his mission:

“I don’t like lying to people,” Thomas says.

And then, in the most rigid way, Felder replies: “No, neither do I.”

It’s the kind of moment that seems so silly I can only double. But In that laugh I got to know the bait and the switch replay It continues to attract us. Because I believe Felder when he says he doesn’t like lying. Only, he knows it’s a necessary part of his job. even his mission.

Nathan Fielder at rehearsal

Nathan Fielder in replay
picture: Courtesy of HBO

But that whole experience, as he tried to become Thomas to better understand and separate himself, It surprised me when he took this whole premise away. It is getting more and more difficult to keep track of this nested doll for display, But one thing remains clear: TIt is an exploration of Nathan Felder’s style of madness. This makes the choice to remake Adam’s genesis/personality when he returns to Eagle Creek easier to understand. This has ceased to be an exercise in Angela’s service. IYou will now remain directly in the service of Fielder’s own interests. I’m hesitant to try to attach words like ‘selfishness’ and ‘indulgence’ to these choices, But when you orchestrate a fake opiate overdose to better capture a teenage kid’s reaction if the father figure disappears for years on end because that’s the story as you’ve been through it, you have to wonder where it’s all headed.

That’s all I have to say: I can’t be the only one terrified of this episode, can I? He’s also terrified of how Felder must be fully aware of how terrifying he is. Which brings me back to this question about self-awareness, which still bothers me. There is such an investment in originality in all these “drills,“However, Felder can’t get out of his head. haccess to emotional honesty (in himself as he is asked of his representatives and thus of the participants), But it seems like it’s out of reach for him forever. Is that why he feels more comfortable in these “rehearsals” when he’s himself at them? Are we reaching a point where the fake around him stops on crutches and risks becoming the real thing? Is he intentionally trying to drive us crazy by reminding us of how well we do in our daily lives? I think we’ll find out next week.

stray notes

  • Did you do cocaine?! It may be a loop line. Without much effort.
  • I loved the visual boom in End of the episode (move to slide) and I like to keep Felder the teenage actor playing Adam exit the slide (“Is that him?”) and break down any version of realistic simulation that the fictional transformation would have created. We’re in the Pristina region here, after all.
  • As much as I am intrigued by thematic interests replay, I am equally intrigued by his logistics. I’m left wondering, for example, how Fielder & Co. They got to use Eagle Creek, Oregon, as their base. What made this community suitable for such diverse trainings? Felder notes that Eagle Creek had only so much to offer us that, in John Wilson’s boom, he pictured two signs: a temporary one that says “We’ve got eggs now” (above the other that reads “brown eggs”) and a more professional one advertising “Pole Buildings.” Likewise – and especially during the real WTF OD moment – I kept wondering how much control Fielder had. We have seen how it is…Did he know an overdose would happen? (Is Angela?) And if he did, what purpose did you serve?
  • I’m still attentive to the fact that the denim jacket that Thomas wears on his first day at Nathan’s workshop features, on the back, a fluffy image. A cat with the words “Eat Me” written on it. I don’t know what to do with this information other than noticing how prominent its framing is. IHard to miss – bIt is also difficult to understand. Ifantasy show I’d like to point out how it might tell us something about Thomas but, frankly, I don’t know what I’m going to say about this fashion choice other than it helps further bewilderment. About who Thomas is as an individual. (Also, again, I want a full interview with many of the actors who took part in the show – either by themselves during these classes or as performers at actual rehearsals because…I have questions!)
  • Aside: I agree with Felder, actors can be pretty intimidating. also, Barry Cross when?
  • I ask all of you, once again, to watch Synecdoche, New York. And I’ll stop suggesting that when I stop writing “How Kaufman-esque!” In my notes after each episode.

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