Media Minute: The Rehearsal

Reality television or a social experiment gone too far?

Graphic by: Sienna Parmelee | Production Assistant / Photos courtesy of HBO Max

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you could rehearse life events before they happened? Well, that’s the exact question that Nathan Fielder’s docuseries “The Rehearsal” sets out to answer.

While we all have experience in playing out scenarios in our heads, whether it be a joke or a serious discussion with a peer, Fielder takes this to a whole new level. While HBO has not released the budget for the show, it’s clear it was not a cheap endeavor. Using full-scale models of buildings, 3D scanning and paid actors trained to study people’s behaviors and reactions, the rehearsals come as close to reality as possible.

In the first episode we meet Korr Skeet, a member of a weekly trivia group who has been lying to his friends about his education, claiming he has a master’s degree. Korr rehearses in a full-scale model of the trivia bar with a trained actor who has studied his friend, Tricia, to gauge her possible reactions. When Korr finally meets with the real Tricia, he goes beyond the topic of his education, sharing insight into his relationship with his family and his childhood experiences.

While Korr experienced a positive outcome from the rehearsal, this is not the case for everyone participating in the show.

Two participants left the show before their rehearsals were complete. The most notable participant was a child actor participating in Angela and Nathans’s rehearsal of parenthood. Remy, a six-year-old actor playing the pair’s pretend child, Adam, struggles to understand the difference between “playing pretend” and reality.

Angela left the rehearsal before it was complete, and “Adam” has now progressed to an older age, meaning it was time for Remy to leave the show.

In the finale, we learn that Remy does not have a father figure in his life, so leaving Nathan caused him to break into tears and question why he had to leave his “daddy.” The show seemed so natural to him that he couldn’t understand why the man who had been acting as his father was not actually his father.

It’s difficult to say whether or not the show crosses an ethical line, since it was made for entertainment. It is not a reality tv show capturing people in everyday life; it’s one with meticulously crafted scenarios. Both the viewer and members of the show are a part of multiple fabrications, so it becomes challenging to understand who is in on the joke and who falls victim. However, in the case of Remy, the show has already proven that a rehearsal can go too far and cannot plan for every variable.