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'Nathan for You' recap: A simple idea escalates into wonderful chaos

Season 2 | Episode 2 | “Souvenir Shop/ELAIFF” | Aired July 8, 2014

I believe we are all savvy enough to realize that no reality show reaches our homes without some creative editing and producing. Calling it “reality” is, quite frankly, false advertising. We are under no pretense that Nathan for You is an exact documentary of Nathan’s consultation with businesses; in fact, the creative editing of the show is one of its best qualities.

However, there is something about the series of events in last night’s episode that has given me a spark of inclination, and perhaps hope, that the show was not the preplanned scheme of a producer. How things unfolded was just too bizarre and perfectly chaotic to be choreographed from the outset.

A typical format of the show is for Nathan to assist with two different businesses, but last night’s help with a struggling Hollywood Boulevard souvenir shop spurred a series of events that lasted the whole episode. Nathan’s idea to help the shop is to make it seem as if a Hollywood film was in production in front of the shop at all times, with the help of a Johnny Depp impersonator, attracting hordes of tourists. The film’s plot: Depp plays a “hacker who had to hack into an asteroid to stop it from hitting earth.” The tourists start to arrive, but aren’t buying anything. Nathan then casts them as extras who are buying souvenirs. If they’re hesitant, he introduces them to “Johnny Depp,” who signs their souvenirs, rendering them nonreturnable.

I find prank shows uncomfortable to watch, and even though Nathan is deceiving these people into thinking they are in a movie with Johnny Depp, it doesn’t seem like a mean-spirited prank. Most of his exploits result in people being happy and having a good time; he puts himself in the position of the person being exploited, which is what makes this show more layered than a typical prank show.

Weeks after the successful business consultation, the extras begin emailing him asking when the film is coming out. After consulting a lawyer who tells him he’s liable for fraud, Nathan finds out he needs to actually make the film. He splices together the footage he has and, true to Nathan’s desire for human connection, casts a love scene for himself, resulting in the world’s most awkward onscreen kiss. Hard to watch, but delightfully played.

The finished film is … indescribable. There’s nothing I can say to describe it that would be better than watching it for yourself:

Just having a film is not good enough to absolve him of being fraudulent; he needs it to win an award. Of course, no film festival will take it, so Nathan then has to create his own: the East Los Angeles International Film festival [ELAIFF], of which he is the winner. The win is in the bag, considering the nature of the other entry, which was a “documentary” about flatulence. Now, with award in hand, he is free from fraud.

Because he’s a social masochist, Nathan meets with the actress from the love scene, asking her if she felt something from it. “Well …” she replies, trying to be nice, “I wouldn’t grab you on the street and kiss you out of nowhere.” Once again, Nathan has success in business, and is a failure at life.

Comedians draw from life experiences, and all personae, no matter how exaggerated, are extensions of themselves. As a comedian starts to find commercial and critical success, their status can be incompatible with how they present themselves as someone who still acts socially awkward and self-deprecating. Nathan Fielder is becoming an excellent comedian. I wonder how much longer he can hold up his persona without it seeming really forced. For now, I am comfortable reveling in his stilted and floundering human interactions, as they are surely rooted in some truth. This is evident from his previous attempts to live-tweet the show.

As an update to last week’s premiere, Sue, the “Ghost Realtor,” showed up on Twitter. At first I wrote it off as a novelty account, but the website does actually go back to what seems to be a legitimate real estate site. Sue, of course, still remains sweet as ever:

Nathan for You airs Tuesdays at 10:30/9:30C on Comedy Central.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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