I find it difficult to easily explain this show, how it works, and its classification. It’s part documentary, parody, and reality TV show, but most importantly, at its core, the most awkward and hilarious television show I’ve seen. Most would find that hard to believe, but I’ve sat through both the American and UK versions of The Office, and I can easily say, this has better awkward humor. To get to the core of my reasoning, I’ll have to explain it a bit more.
The show is like Kitchen Nightmare; an expert in business, host Nathan Fielder, comes to a business to either fix its failing business model or get more customers. However, the businesses featured on the show are unaware that not only is Fielder a comedian, but also not an expert who is helping their business either. When described to me, I found the idea of the show almost cruel, tricking people into having their businesses ruined. However, this show is not like that at all to my pleasant surprise, Fielder comes to these businesses with simple ideas and allows the concept to evolve and reflect almost entirely on his character, who acts as someone who is petty, self absorbed, arrogant, and lonely. That’s what makes the show incredibly funny. Fielder’s dry and superior persona is awkward in the best way. I found myself cringe and turn away during certain parts of The Office, especially during the specific episode “Scott’s Tots.” While hilarious, it’s almost hard to watch because of how painfully uncomfortable it is to even be a viewer of the train wrecks Michael Scott gets into. Even though The Office is all actors and Nathan For You has real business owners, I find Fielder easier to watch. Scott and the character Fielder share all the traits listed prior, their pettiness, self absorption, arrogance, and loneliness are their most obvious traits. However, The Office tends to drag the viewer into the awkwardness of any situation, by having characters give their reaction to the camera after something terrible happens. On the other hand, Fielder puts all the embarrassment on himself, he always takes the blame either from customers or the business owner. It’s a different dynamic where even though Fielder does more awkward actions, like creating a Bachelor-esque show so he can date 10 women at once, the viewer doesn’t feel any second-hand awkwardness.
In fact, the things Fielder does on the show and how he enacts them is my favorite part of the program. As an example, I’ll use my now favorite episode of television from the series as an example, “Dumb Starbucks.” In this episode, Fielder tries to help a struggling coffee shop owner by turning the store into a parody Starbucks. However, after the owner starts to stop supporting Fielder, he hires a lawyer to give him full control of the parody Starbucks idea. Fielder then opens a “Dumb Starbucks” to massive reception, with many people thinking it was an art installation by Banksy, receiving global news attention. Watching Fielder’s character being puffed up by the media surrounding Dumb Starbucks is hilarious, as well as people’s reactions before learning Fielder was the owner. This show’s humor and style is something I haven’t seen in a show before, and its execution is excellent.
Despite the high praise I give the show, its viewership is sadly low, especially for a program so original and funny. However, as a word of warning, the show, and its host Fielder, are very awkward. While this may dissuade many people, I would still suggest giving the show a shot since it’s a unique series that I have not found an equal for.