“The Rehearsal:” What to Watch Next If You Love Nathan Fielder’s Mind-Bending Show

There’s nothing on television like it The Rehearsal, Nathan Fielder‘s hybrid comedy docuseries that defies easy explanation. The essential concept is this: Fielder despises life’s unpredictability. So he constructs simulacrums of reality to rehearse all the potential outcomes of several very specific scenarios, largely involving allegedly regular people. It’s funny and bizarre, inspiring serious debates about media exploitation and the blurred lines between reality and fiction.

But for all its idiosyncrasies, The Rehearsal explores themes found in multiple documentaries, feature films, and reality shows, from Portrait of Jason thaw The Truman Show. If you just can’t get enough of Fielder’s wild social experiment, here’s a thorough guide for what to watch next.

Synecdoche, New York

The longer The Rehearsal goes on, the more it seems like Fielder must be a fan of this challenging 2008 drama, written and directed by Charlie Kaufman. Synecdoche follows Caden Cotard (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), an ambitious theater director obsessed with creating a project that mirrors real life as much as possible. As he shapes the story, amassing more actors, having new structures built, and staging longer rehearsals, his life begins merging with the increasingly meta experiment. (Sound familiar?) Threaded together by dream logic and infused with Jungian theory, Synecdoche is bizarre and unsettling and surprisingly affecting, offering a strange meditation on the creative process and the cyclical nature of art imitating life.

The Truman Show

In this 1998 dramedy, Jim Carrey plays Truman Burbank, a man who slowly comes to realize that his entire life is a reality show. Every moment has been scripted, staged, filmed, edited, and broadcast to the world, pushing Truman to find a way to escape his unique prison. It’s a natural predecessor to The Rehearsalsatirizing the perils of reality television and media exploitation.

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond

Speaking of Carrey: the comedian followed up The Truman Show by playing the late Andy Kaufman in the biopic Man on the Moon. Although the film, directed by Miloš Forman, received critical acclaim, it’s as remembered now for Carrey’s behind-the-scenes antics as he stayed in character as Kaufman, wreaking havoc on the cast and crew. Carrey was so committed to the method that people who personally knew Kaufman felt like he was alive again, for a time. This 2017 documentary, directed by Chris Smith, rehashes all of it, featuring candid interviews with Carrey and the cast and including wild behind-the-scenes footage of Carrey on set that was buried by the studio at the time.

Nathan for You

Before The Rehearsal, Nathan Fielder created this comedy docuseries for Comedy Central. In it, he played a bizarre businessman version of himself, going around to small businesses and offering ridiculous solutions to their problems. (Like placing a pet store ad in a pet cemetery, or creating a man cave in a women’s boutique.) The entire series is worthwhile, but a few standout episodes have the surreal, ambitious edge that Fielder explores in The Rehearsal, including: “The Hero,” “The Anecdote,” “Smokers Allowed,” and the nearly two-hour finale, “Finding Frances,” in which Fielder helps an eccentric Bill Gates impersonator finds his long-lost love.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 7

For a more lighthearted take on weaving meta narratives, look no further than the seventh season of Larry David‘s curmudgeonly comedy. In the show, David, who cocreated Seinfeld, plays a fictionalized version of himself gripping around Los Angeles. In season seven, David sets about spearheading a Seinfeld reunion, bringing key cast members like Jerry Seinfeld spirit Julia Louis-Dreyfus back together to star in a modern version of the sitcom. It’s funny and occasionally thorny—including an attempt to smooth Michael Richards‘s image after his racist tirade—and is an altogether fascinating take on the TV revival trend.

Jersey Shore: Season 3

If you want to talk about the highs and lows of reality TV in all its exploitative glory, look no further than the Jersey Shore, specifically its third season. In seasons one and two, a gang of hard-partying Italian Americans spend a summer together in a beach house on the Jersey Shore, and resume the chaos the following summer in Miami. In season three, the gang makes a grand return to the Jersey beach house.

But this time, it’s a vastly different experience. Now, Snooki, Pauly D, and the rest are certifiably rich and famous, leaning even harder into the marketable tag lines and headline-grabbing drunken antics that made them reality superstars. They retread their steps on the boardwalk, going to the same clubs and bars, still “working” at the T-shirt shop that was actually their main source of income in season one. The story lines grow more disturbing, from Ron spirit Sammy‘s increasingly toxic relationship to Snooki’s arrest. As the cast roams around town, they’re often followed by gaggles of onlookers, disrupting the fantasy that they exist in a seaside bubble—an ever-present reminder of how much their lives have changed.

Small Town Security

This AMC reality show about a private security company in Ringgold, Georgia, is brimming with the kind of real-life kooks that Fielder loved to feature in Nathan for You. Led by quirky head boss Joan Koplan, Small Town Security is genuinely odd and charming, a workplace comedy full of silly and sometimes astonishing moments. For anyone who needs convincing about the show’s comedic chops, please spend one minute and 14 seconds watching the “Speecy Spicy Meatball” scene.

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