Nathan For You “Toy Company/Movie Theatre” Review (2×08)

20 Aug

640While you’re in front of the camera, you tend to want to put on a show, but the brilliance of Nathan Fielder is his ability to turn that ‘show’ into a genuine look at human nature, one that’s awkward without being intrusive and funny without being mean. At certain points, the situations go a bit too far–that one girl tonight is on the verge of tears–but at the end of it all, he always pulls back and allows things to progress on their own. That’s where the comedy comes from.

Take, for example, Nathan’s pitch to Erik Chaffino of the Whittier Village Cinemas. Usually, the business owner goes with some variation of “uh…” before the voiceover of “He or she loved the idea!” kicks in, but here, Chaffino tries to convince himself that it’s a good idea; he winds up not making much sense, but he attempts to act as if he’s in on the nuances of the plan. In reality, though, it takes Nathan sniffing peoples’ fingers and setting up video cameras and holding up “Popcorn Sharers and Theater Masturbators” boards before he realizes that this plan isn’t necessarily a good one. Perhaps it’s something he knew all along, and he was just putting on a show for the cameras or was willing to follow any strange idea down any strange road.

Contrast this with Mark Rappaport, who’s against Nathan right from the start and continues to convey that, even after Nathan provides results. So, here’s a guy who sees the BS inherent in the plan from the beginning, then convinces himself that he’s above it; it’s a very different personality than Chaffino’s, but it’s a look at another aspect of human nature. One man convinces himself beforehand, then backs out. One convinces himself to back out from the beginning, and doesn’t change his mind. So, that leaves two rejections, two failed plans, and all Nathan has left is Simon the security guard.

Simon’s monologue is a thing of beauty. The matter-of-fact delivery is beautiful, and the in depth look at his morning routine is absolutely hilarious. Whereas the other stories feature lying in some way–Santa informing the kids that they must be babies if they don’t have the toy, the people at the theater saying they won’t share but doing so anyway–here, Simon’s completely honest about everything; interestingly enough, he’s doing so while filming a reality show, oftentimes just TV theatrics under the guise of realism. And well, it’s Simon–complete with Elvis costume–who Nathan ends up hanging out with at the end of the episode.

There’s been a common thread throughout of Nathan the character attempting to find emotional connection, and last season ended with a montage of him realizing that he had no one. This year, at least he has Elvis; all three business plans may have failed, but Simon’s the one at the end of it all who won’t walk away. Nathan tells us that he admires the guy, that there’s something about him that’s missing from guys like Chaffino and Rappaport. And so, the final exchange is a wonderful close to a wonderful season of television.

“That was great!”






– “I’m an idiot businessman with a small dick.” I need that bobblehead.

-The season seems to have built up Nathan the character’s frustration at times. You have him getting angry at the focus group, threatening violence in the last episode, and sticking it to Rappaport here.

-Another season 1 finale connection: Brian Wolfe’s new show is what gets Nathan to try and make one with Simon.

-Fight it, girl in the focus group! Don’t grab the ball!

-Simon “establishes his industry cred” by talking about Barkhad Abdi.

-*Nathan returns a day later to see Mark* “Take this ordinary piece of gum…”

-I like that Nathan takes care to note that the popcorn sharing is “premeditated”.

-Frank talking about trees and Ronald Reagan, all the while pretending to jerk off, is a hidden gem in an already fantastic episode.

-Interesting juxtaposition of Santa pulling out his gun and Nathan talking about how good he’d be at getting the children to buy Doink Its.

-Simon constantly going up to the jewelry store manager and telling him about his crippling obsession with large breasts: love it.

-What a season, and what a show. There’s a surprising amount of depth in this show, something you wouldn’t expect on the surface, and it’s been an intriguing look at human interaction and the ways we react to, well, awkwardness. Fielder’s a very talented individual when it comes to getting genuine reactions out of people.

-It’s been a pleasure, guys. Highlights of the season? The two standalones, “Souvenir Shop/ELAIFF” and “Dumb Starbucks”.

Photo credit: Comedy Central, Nathan For You


3 Responses to “Nathan For You “Toy Company/Movie Theatre” Review (2×08)”

  1. disappearingwoman August 20, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    I LOVE this show!! Did you see the bit on Conan about his Instagram pictures?

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