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'Nathan for You' recap: The origin story of Dumb Starbucks

Season 2 | Episode 5 | “Dumb Starbucks” | Aired July 29, 2014

At long last, the questions about the viral news sensation of Dumb Starbucks is revealed. We already knew that there had to be an intense backstory on it, but this episode was almost a game-changer for the whole show. As I mentioned earlier, the show started to fall into a familiar pattern of Nathan coming up with a radical idea, only to have to do some damage control. This week, Nathan continues to learn life lessons, but at the expense of a Faustian bargain.

The idea of opening a “Dumb Starbucks” comes to fruition when Nathan attempts to help hole-in-the-wall, hipper-than-thou coffee shop Helio (“They don’t even have a menu!”) gain more customers. Why not capture the customer base of a Starbucks by fooling people into thinking they are actually in a Starbucks?

But can they parody Starbucks legally? Nathan’s lawyer says yes, as long as Nathan is known to be a parody artist. Good thing Nathan indicated in his lawyer’s release that the lawyer would be responsible for all legal action. Here’s where things change: Usually Nathan’s antics don’t necessarily upset anyone, which is why I can relax and enjoy it. His lawyer is genuinely annoyed, especially when Nathan aggressively tries to get the release back from him. Things get awkward quickly. And not in the way we are used to.

The lawyer starts to get angry, and Nathan keeps pushing it. I continue to get uncomfortable, because this is genuinely what I hate about other “prank” shows. And an aggressive Nathan is not as funny as an awkward one.


Nathan sets out to be a parody artist, first going to open mics with his parody songs, which, for some reason, all seem to be using hits from the late ’90s. Next, he rents a gallery to put on an art show parodying brands and well-known artifacts from pop culture.


The problem? Elias, the owner of Helio, doesn’t seem to be into it. Nathan friend-breaks up with him, with the help of his lawyer, who I guess has forgiven Nathan, so Nathan sets out to open Dumb Starbucks on his own. This is the first time we’ve seen Nathan pursue a business for his own reasons.

The rest of the story we already know: It becomes news throughout the world. Nathan is genuinely happy about the attention until, predictably, the Dumb Starbucks is shut down by the health department for not having a restaurant license. Nathan learns his lesson, and at the expense of some hubris.


I’ve always been curious about how much of the show is Nathan showing his true self, and how much is the persona he is putting on for the show. I believe he was being truthful about this: The news blitz genuinely excited him, not because of fame, but because “he just wants to make people happy.” As with any other episode, he leaves with a lesson learned, but still no friends. At least he makes it up to Elias in the end:


Here are some of the standout quotes that tickled me the most:

“Maybe we can skewer them for being old.” —Nathan, on writing a parody of a Rolling Stones song

“Do you think people will get it?”  Elias, owner of Helio, questioning Nathan’s idea for Dumb Starbucks
“Do you think people are getting what you do now? You’re not that popular.” Nathan

“Don’t let the checks run dry/Royalties” Nathan, singing a parody of Bush’s “Glycerin”

2014-07-29_2321“Sexual tension is very distracting in the workplace.” Nathan, attempting to hit on one of the employees he hires for Dumb Starbucks

“Dumb Nora Jones duets.”  A CD on sale at Dumb Starbucks

“There’s a rumor it might be Banksy!” —A spectator at Dumb Starbucks

“First time in my life, people wanted to be around me.”  Nathan commenting on his newfound fame.

“They say the devil is an artist, and maybe I was his greatest piece yet.”  Nathan on realizing how the fame got to him

With this very public stunt, it’s going to be challenging for Nathan to continue to create these brilliant performance-art pieces for his show without people starting to recognize him or quickly realizing he is behind it. I am sure he’ll think of something, because there’s good news for the show:

And if you want to own a piece of the short-lived parody art gallery, Comedy Central is auctioning some of the pieces. Anyone want to pool some cash to get me the “Jamba Jews” cups?

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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