Over the course of two seasons, Nathan Fielder has created a comedy show that has gained national attention for its outlandish premises rooted in reality with Nathan for You. At first there was the fake viral video of a pig rescuing a drowning goat. The video was featured on Good Morning America among other programs despite the fact it was an intricate fake crafted by Fielder a team of animal trainers and craftsmen. Then there was Dumb Starbucks, which popped up in Los Feliz and was featured on news programs worldwide. As his stunts and exposure grew and grew, it left one wondering how Fielder could continue to operate Nathan for You on the same level as before. But fear not, dear reader, as the Season 3 premiere of Nathan for You ranks among one of Fielder’s best episodes, an elaborate ruse that finds the humanity and hilarity in all aspects of its scheme.
The season premiere, entitle “Electronics Store,” has Nathan scheming to boost business for an electronic store in Pasadena which is feeling the crunch from a Best Buy which just opened nearby. His plan is to exploit Best Buy’s price matching policy by having the store advertise 50-inch televisions for one dollar and sending people over to Best Buy to have the price matched and boost the proprietor’s inventory. In order to make sure that no customers clean out the inventory of cheap televisions, Nathan crafts a number of obstacles that potential customers would have to go through in order to obtain a cheap television. I will not divulge what these obstacles are, only that they are each hilarious in their own right and there are limits to people’s determination to acquire cheap electronics – Black Friday retailers please take note. When Best Buy refuses to match the advertised price, Nathan finds himself emboldened and seeks out to file a class action lawsuit against the retail giant. In order to obtain the evidence needed to win the lawsuit, Nathan sets out to create a fake reality show to get information from a Best Buy employee among other facets needed to secure his plan.
As with the best episodes of Nathan for You, “Electronics Store” finds Nathan Fielder putting people through extreme and outlandish situations yet always avoiding being cruel or mean-spirited, something truly astonishing for a show based around intricate pranks. There’s something remarkable about the way Nathan Fielder creates these situations that are trying to people and is willing to find their true humanity, not merely infuriating people for laughs. Whether it’s the fake dating show or the obstacles to obtain a cheap TV, Fielder is never making you laugh at these people as much as he’s making you laugh at the premise.
Toeing the line between scripted comedy and reality television, Nathan for You remains one of the funniest shows on television. Nathan Fielder always keeps you guessing just to as far he’ll take it and how far people are willing to go. There’s a soft-heartedness to the pranks of Nathan for You which only aid in keeping the show funny and earnest. “That’s really weird,” the young Best Buy employee tells Nathan after he admits the reasons behind his faked reality show. “That’d you take someone on a date and then ask them ‘Hey, dude, like, why don’t we sue Best Buy?’” It’s a funny moment, undoubtedly, but it’s a genuine reaction from a genuine person and a moment that perfectly sums up Nathan for You.
Nathan for You airs Thursdays at 10pm on Comedy Central.