By Emily Bodden, Daily Arts Writer
Published March 15, 2013
While Comedy Central has been doing a poor job of choosing new series lately, “Nathan for You” has definite potential. Set up as a docu-reality show, “Nathan” follows comedian Nathan Fielder as he attempts to fix small businesses with unconventional approaches.
Nathan For You
Thursdays 10:30 p.m.
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At this point in the series, it’s still uncertain whether Fielder is being sincere with his assistance. Watching the show, Fielder appears to be a nice guy, albeit weird, who actually wants to help the companies. He is reminiscent of those kind-of-strange-but-very-nice gamers that reside in most high schools. But judging by the way he interacts with the business owners, one hopes he’s not mocking them.
In the premiere (“Clothing Store/Restaurant”), Fielder befriends Gloria Pike, a middle-aged woman who manages a diner. Very sweet, Gloria treats Fielder as a son. Fielder senses this and tries to capitalize off her kindness by asking to be included in her will. Gloria somewhat entertains the idea and comes back later to tell him that, regretfully, he can’t be included in her will because her daughter warned against it. This interaction calls Fielder’s character into question.
The best fix that Fielder conjures up presents itself as a gas rebate. He encourages a gas station owner to advertise that the price was only $1.85 per gallon with an asterisk, clarifying that this price was only after rebate. Once the customers come into the store, they learn the rebate can only be obtained after driving an hour and a half away and then climbing to the top of the mountain, after which they must place the rebate in a specially marked mailbox. This alone should be enough to deter most customers from receiving the rebate, but several patrons, including a woman who appears to be in her seventies, eagerly accept the challenge.
What follows is an all-night excursion into the mountains that includes camping and riddle answering. This series of events again evokes the question of Fielder’s sincerity. While clearly attempting to provoke the customers with the hoops he presents for them to jump through, Fielder also then spends the night earnestly listening to the three gas station patrons that make it all the way to the next morning.
The most entertaining part of the mountain excursion? After putting people through over 12 hours of ridiculous requirements, Fielder then lies about there not being an actual mailbox for the rebates. The camera reveals that there is, in fact, a mailbox and that it is within 200 feet of them. Fielder proves once again to be deceptive.
“Nathan for You” looks to be a solid show despite the red flags raised about Fielder’s intentions. For Comedy Central’s sake, let’s hope that “Nathan” continues to prove itself entertaining. With a wave of new series that look like impending flops, “Nathan for You” appears to be the network’s sole show to hit the mark.