Nathan For You is a TV show on Comedy Central that features Canadian comedian, Nathan Fielder, who pitches outrageous ideas to professional businesses in a very deadpan and intentionally awkward manner.
When it debuted in February 2013, it quickly gained a small cult-like following from those who happened to see it. However, with only eight episodes in the first season, spanning less than two months, it struggled to gain popularity. Only two of the pilot season’s episodes had more than 500,000 viewers.
Season two received quite a bit of hype in large part due to a “Dumb Starbucks” prank that Nathan facilitated in February of 2014 being unavoidable revealed to the world. The pilot on July 1 marked the show’s largest viewership to date.
Season two’s first episode was a fantastic example of one of the best parts of the show. Somehow, despite Nathan being intentionally strange, he consistently finds people to be on his show even far stranger than him. He convinces a realtor to rebrand herself as “The Ghost Realtor,” selling only houses that are guaranteed to be ghost-free, and also hires a psychic and an exorcist to help out along the way.
This episode also displays Nathan’s ability to be absolutely deadpan despite the hilarity surrounding him. In moments that viewers are losing it laughing, Nathan manages to keep a serious posture, never breaking character. Nathan provokes other people to seem crazy, but sometimes in episodes like this he really has no work to do to create incredibly entertaining television.
Some of the people Nathan brings on to the show aren’t as naturally entertaining, but he does everything he can to make them feel uncomfortable. As he explains to Bill Simmons in Simmons’ B.S. Report Podcast, his character on the show is an exaggerated, fun-making version of himself. While in real life he does not try to make conversations as uncomfortable and awkward as possible, he pushes the action on his show to make the best television.
The highlight of season two was the season’s fifth episode, “Dumb Starbucks.” Unlike other episodes that feature two businesses, the “Dumb Starbucks” idea was a full episode, and also unlike other episodes, Nathan took on the idea himself after failing to persuade a business owner to pursue it. The idea was to create a coffee shop (or rather, art gallery) called Dumb Starbucks, and use slightly altered versions of Starbucks graphics, simply adding the world “dumb.”
He was able to do this using parody law, which allows you to essentially ignore copyright as long as you are making fun. This particular stunt was reported about all the over world. Many called it a work of art. This episode was crafted fantastically, and truly was a work of art.
“Nathan for You” is a well put-together, hilarious and thought-provoking show. It is a show that could easily be analyzed by sociologists or psychologists. Because of the nature of the show, it takes quite a while to put together just one episode, to say nothing of an entire season. However, I would highly recommend this show to anyone, and I hope the third season gathers a much larger audience.
by Evan Froiland