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The Best Nathan For You Episodes To Watch For Fans Of The Rehearsal

Whether he's conducting supremely weird interviews or sniffing out strange pockets of Americana, Nathan Fielder is one of comedy's most unique talents. His HBO series, "The Rehearsal," makes this clear in every single episode. In "The Rehearsal," Fielder helps real people practice difficult moments through ever-more absurd set pieces. The results are strange, outright surreal, and hilarious. 

This success isn't a surprise to fans of Fielder's previous series, "Nathan for You," one of the modern era's most memorable works of comedy. Taking its cues from business makeover shows like "Bar Rescue" and "Kitchen Nightmares," "Nathan for You" sees the titular comedian play a heightened version of himself (one of the best TV characters of the last decade, in our opinion), who attempts to help small businesses and individuals through strange schemes. These stabs at virality tend to blossom into overly complicated and incredibly expensive set pieces that are as ludicrous as they are humorous.

Nathan's awkward comedy, risk-taking, and endless desire to go overboard make every episode of "Nathan for You" a delight. If you love "The Rehearsal," you're sure to enjoy it — but which episodes, you might be wondering, are the most relevant to the HBO series? We've got the answers. These are the best episodes of "Nathan for You" for fans of "The Rehearsal" to watch, from long-simmering quests for lost loves to literal high-wire acts.

Funeral Home / Burger Joint / Skydiving

In Season 1, Episode 6, "Funeral Home / Burger Joint / Skydiving," we're presented with three memorable scenarios. In the first segment, Nathan convinces a funeral home to provide a colorful new service: Background extras who fill out the sparsely-attended funerals of lonely people. In "Burger Joint," Nathan gets the titular establishment to offer a crisp $100 to anybody who questions their claim of producing Los Angeles' best burgers.

But it's the "Skydiving" section of the episode that we're here to discuss. Desperate to prove how cool he is and having made many wild claims supporting this vision of himself, Nathan attempts to go skydiving. Here, we see Nathan's response to nervousness: When anxiety pounces, he goes absolutely over-the-top with his solutions, reaching a fever pitch we've never before seen.

Nathan could have used a rehearsal back when he was making this episode, because his anxieties prove to be a major obstacle he has to find his way around. It's fun to see him in a situation he doesn't control — almost as fun as watching him flame out, in fact. We won't spoil whether or not he makes the jump, but the episode's resolution is characteristically hilarious, weirdly humble, and even a little bit sweet.

The Claw of Shame

"The Claw of Shame," Season 1's penultimate episode, contains Nathan's first experiment with the show's format. Here, he escapes handcuffs mere seconds before a robotic arm pulls his pants down. What's worse, this disrobing happens in front of children. He's promptly arrested for indecent exposure. And that's not all: "The Claw of Shame" also samples some of Season 1's less successful pranks that previously hadn't made it to the air.

The wildly overdetermined nature of this episode's project is classically Nathan. After he realizes that he can't have human helpers remove his pants before the buzzer goes off — this could potentially get them into trouble with the law alongside him — Nathan gets a lab to create a giant-armed robot and special pants and undies that are designed to be easily removable. We get to see the results in real time, which means we get to watch Nathan become more and more nervous throughout the episode. The pressure memorably mounts as he's chained to a solid steel bar and forced to confront the law.

Haunted House / The Hunk

Season 1, Episode 5, ""Haunted House / The Hunk," contains two distinct scenarios. In the first, a visit to a struggling haunted house turns into an apparent life-or-death emergency, as visitors are convinced they've caught a dreadful virus from the performers and hustled to the ER. This is pretty unforgettable stuff, but it's in the episode's second segment, "The Hunk," that we get our most intense look at the methodology that would eventually become "The Rehearsal." 

Desperate to get over his anxieties around women, Nathan creates an entire reality show, "The Hunk," on which he stars as a "Bachelor"-style lothario alongside a group of 10 women and one very handsome TV host. But even Nathan's odd demands and precise weirdness can't make a dent in the fact that all of these contestants are there purely to get on TV. Thus, he decides to take the experience as it comes. In the process, we're introduced to several very interesting women, and get a front-row seat to Nathan's absolute inability to keep it cool.

Private Investigator / Taxi Company

In the first scenario of the Season 1 finale of "Nathan for You," "Private Investigator / Taxi Company," Nathan hires a hostile private investigator to follow him for 24 hours. If the man does his job, Nathan promises to leave him a five-star Yelp review. But he's not going to make it easy: Nathan proceeds to hire a private investigator to follow the first private investigator. He also arranges nine lookalikes — who, amusingly, don't particularly look like him — to throw the man even more dramatically off his game. 

One of these lookalikes goes to live in Nathan's house, and is asked to do the dishes and a few other household tasks. Nathan takes his place, in turn, at the man's own home. This proves to be a pretty strange experience for the lookalike's fiancée. What follows is a kind of complex dance, as the real Nathan, his copies, and his two private investigators make their way around Los Angeles. Plenty of weirdness ensues, and several near-misses occur. The way this wild scenario exponentially expands, eventually unfolding into absolute madness, should be very familiar to fans of "The Rehearsal."

Souvenir Shop / E.L.A.I.F.F.

Season 2, Episode 2, "Souvenir Shop / E.L.A.I.F.F.," features the sort of crazily elaborate (and inevitably deteriorating) scenario that makes "Nathan for You" such a gem. What sets it apart is that it also adds the sort of money and hired actors into the mix that are such a huge part of "The Rehearsal."

To help a Hollywood souvenir shop off the main drag lure in more spendy customers, Nathan fakes the filming of a short film called "The Web" on its premises. To give it more star power, it features a terrible Johnny Depp impersonator as an elite hacker. It works, for a while: Tourists are drawn to the location by all the Hollywood pageantry. Then, Nathan offers to put them in the movie as extras. They'll play fictional customers ... and will also be expected to actually pay for the purchases they think they're only pretending to buy for the sake of the fake movie.

Watching the "customers" balk at paying — we only get to see those who confusedly agree — creates a classic "Nathan for You" experience. But then, he's informed that he's openly defrauding these people, and will need to actually make a film to stay on the right side of the law. The only way to prove the film is a real production, Nathan surmises, is for it to win an award ... so he throws his own film festival.

Pet Store / Maid Service

In Season 2, Episode 3, "Pet Store / Maid Service," we see Nathan's penchant for ever-increasing scope on full display. If two maids can clean a house in two hours, then 40 maids should be able to clean the same house in six minutes, right? With this absurd calculation in mind, he hires a charter bus to take an army of maids to their first appointment. We're treated to the sight of 40 laughing house cleaners getting off the bus and cleaning every inch of a domicile in record time — albeit, more than the promised six minutes.

Next, Nathan hires a focus group to help him shine up his personality. Four random strangers who are picked for their demographic spread are given microphones, with which they can advise Nathan through the earpiece he's wearing. They give him truly wild tips about his clothes, his mannerisms, his physical presence, and a whole lot more. This scenario is particularly reminiscent of "The Rehearsal," in that it puts Nathan on the line in a major way. Empowered by everything he's learned and a new (some might say sleazier) look and vibe, he tries to ingratiate himself with the hostile private detective from the Season 1 finale. Watching this play out is priceless.

Toy Company / Movie Theatre

In the Season 2 finale, "Toy Company / Movie Theatre," Nathan tries to get one of his guests from Season 1, a strange security guard, his own reality show. Sadly, the guy turns out to be a dud, and their videotapes don't make much of a dent anywhere in Hollywood. However, this scenario does showcase a big part of what makes many of the best episodes of both "Nathan for You" and "The Rehearsal" so interesting: Nathan's unflagging intention to help individual people realize their dreams. While "The Rehearsal" eventually abandons this approach and becomes something else entirely, the show's idea starts here, with turning an everyday man with everyday flaws into a star.

The "Toy Company" segment of this episode is also memorable, as it contains one of the first times Nathan interacts with kids. He convinces them that anyone without a given toy is a baby, in order to prove a point about marketing. This rides the edge between cute and cruel, as Nathan is wont to do. Things end up pretty unsatisfying for the company owner, but as fans know, that's par for the course with Nathan's tricks and schemes.

Smokers Allowed

Season 3, Episode 5, "Smokers Allowed," is another episode-long adventure in scope, as Nathan tries to help a struggling pub by making it legal to smoke there. The plan is simple: He presents the night's activities as a work of experimental theater, conducted before a seated audience of two. While this goes well, what makes it so utterly Nathan is the way he decides it needs to be legitimized after its initial success. Nathan turns the whole night into a full-scale production, using professional transcribers to jot down the "lines," adding four more viewers, and hiring actors, as he does in "The Rehearsal."

The only thing keeping this from being indistinguishable from an episode of "The Rehearsal" is the fact that it actually takes place in a real-world bar and not a fake recreation. But everything we eventually see in the latter show is here, including a gruesome scene in which Nathan forces a pretty actress to tell him she loves him not once, but at least a dozen times. It's unnerving, desperate, and awkward, but most of all, it's Nathan putting his own loneliness and dating trouble on blast. A whole lot of comedy has come from shame, and Nathan furthers the tradition by finding a huge amount of humor in his skin-crawling interactions with women.

Nail Salon / Fun

Season 3, Episode 7, "Nail Salon / Fun," is a potent preview of "The Rehearsal." In "Fun," one of the most complex and jaw-dropping experiments he's ever done, Nathan tries to overcome his worst flaw and prove that he's a fun person to be around. He strikes up a friendship with a new buddy, then plans the perfect day together. Happiness levels (actually measurements of dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin) are tested at the beginning and end of the planned outing. This way, Nathan can scientifically prove just how fun he is.

But how, you may ask, does he plan to get those dopamine levels on paper? Well, Nathan devises a complex plan to steal his new friend's urine, take him on a go-kart ride and try on funny hats together, and then suggest they get a joint blood test. The man, desperate for friendship, is game for every absurd step of this scheme, to the point that even Nathan is impressed by his follow-through. 

We can't be sure if "Fun" proves Nathan's actual fun levels. But we do get to see what it's like when he actually creates a bond with someone — something that becomes crucial in "The Rehearsal."

The Hero

In "The Hero," the exceptional finale of "Nathan for You" Season 3, we see Nathan strive to give a stranger named Corey everything he wants. He does this by turning himself into Corey and performing a seriously dangerous feat, making him into a hometown hero.

As you can imagine, Nathan does not do this transformation by halves. His full-scale impersonation of Corey requires a whole lot of advanced prosthetics, some serious makeup, months of training, and some dicey relationship humor. Nathan even conducts interviews and dates women in his Corey get-up, as he tries desperately to create the man's perfect life. It all culminates in a truly death-defying stunt: Nathan-as-Corey walks a high wire strung between two buildings to raise money for charity. It truly must be seen to be believed.

In the end, it's impossible to say whether Nathan succeeds in reshaping Corey's life for the better. But in attempting to do so, he creates a poignant investigation into what it means to be Nathan Fielder. This definitely sets the tone for the more "Rehearsal"-esque Season 4 of "Nathan for You," and "The Rehearsal" as a whole.

The Anecdote

Season 4, the final season of "Nathan for You," comes with a beefed-up budget and even more intense thrills. To promote the show, Nathan is booked on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" Nervous about not having anything to say, Nathan decides he needs to construct an experience that can be summed up as the perfect talk show anecdote. 

Nathan proceeds to spend hundreds of hours combing through footage to design the ideal event. Then, he spends $350,000 of the show's budget to create the event he wants to describe, so that he'll be telling the truth when he deploys it on-air. This is a lot of money, but it's also a pretty low-stakes gamble, since the only person he's trying to prove something to is himself. It would be a lot easier to tell a made-up story, of course, but it wouldn't be hilarious, or as personally satisfying. 

Making an anecdote-worthy series of happenings occur takes hired actors and a Rube Goldbergian set-up, which must be painstakingly completed. As everything is put in place, we see Nathan at his most fiendishly clever and totally random. We also get to see him wear a comically giant suit, which is just as funny a visual as Nathan thinks it is.

Finding Frances

One of the most affecting episodes of "Nathan for You" is its two-hour series finale, "Finding Frances." Here, Nathan helps William "Bill" Heath, a Bill Gates impersonator from Season 2's "Souvenir Shop," in a way that leads directly into "The Rehearsal." As he looks back on his life, now than he's past middle age, Bill finds himself somewhat lost. He comes to the conclusion that it all went wrong when he left Frances, his lost love, to chase his dreams in Hollywood.

Bill Heath is an unreliable narrator, to say the least. His particular brand of creepiness plays off Nathan's in a way that is simultaneously calming and likely to make your skin crawl. As they set out on their quest, Nathan hires a charming woman named Maci, to see how Bill will react. Bill's not interested, but Nathan and Maci hit it off in such a poignant way, their subplot ends up obscuring the actual plot. 

All four seasons of "Nathan for You" are summed up in the tender, surprising, and complex way Nathan interacts with his new friend. There's a reason The New York Times named "Finding Frances" one of 2017's most memorable episodes of television: It's unlike anything else. The line from "Finding Frances" to "The Rehearsal" is especially clear, and one fans should take the time to examine. If you love "The Rehearsal," you're sure to love seeing Nathan Fielder's genius take shape in this one-of-a-kind installment.