Even if you have never seen “Nathan For You,” you may have heard of Nathan Fielder and the headline-making controversy of “Dumb Starbucks,” where Fielder pushed parody law to its limit when he opened a fully-functional knock-off of Starbucks by adding “dumb” to its name and menu items. The resulting media attention catapulted Fielder into the national spotlight and cemented “Nathan For You” as a source of genuine satire.
In its third season premiere, “Electronics Store,” faux business expert Nathan Fielder and his production team return to prove they still have a great-many schemes up their sleeves, even if the resolution of this one isn’t the show’s most satisfying.
We follow Nathan helping Speers’s TV, a small electronics store that’s endangered by Best Buy’s outrageous price-match policy, which promises to beat the price of any local business.
Nathan plans to use this policy against Best Buy in an elaborate scheme that includes a live alligator, tuxedos, tiny doors and tricking the electronics chain into selling them expensive TVs for one dollar each.
If the show has one major flaw, it’s that Fielder’s awkwardness registers sometimes as actual social ineptitude instead of humor. Then again, many might argue that’s exactly the point. It’s one of the show’s most notable aspects – what’s real and what’s planned blur together so, by the end, we have no idea what really happened and what was just a ruse.
It’s understandable that after “Dumb Starbucks,” the show’s producers might be a little hesitant to go so crazy this early in the season. Still, the latter part of this episode was a bit of a let down compared to the build up. Midway through the episode, Nathan proposes a class action lawsuit against Best Buy for not selling him one-dollar TVs. Though it would have been an unremitting disaster to actually pursue such a case, it would have been an undeniable blast to see what transpired.
There were also more than a few elements that came off a little stagey. Its transition to reality dating shows, for example, feels a little tacked on.
The show also asks its viewers for more suspension of disbelief than they may be used to in a scene where Nathan cons a psychologist into declaring that Speers’s TV’s manager is insane. It’s a scene that’s undoubtedly funny but one that feels a little out of place.
Since the media attention of “Dumb Starbucks,” the likelihood of folks not recognizing Nathan Fielder has gotten less and less, and it would be nice for the show to address this somewhere down the line.
All in all, “Electronics Store” might not have packed the same punch as Fielder’s previous shenanigans. However, the show continues to transcend easy humor to become pressing, vital satire—skewering the standards of modern America with hysterical, often surprising effect.
Regardless of its flaws, it’s great to see “Nathan For You” return and exciting to imagine what absurd scenarios he and his team have devised for the future.