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Nathan For You's Oddball Humor Hides a Serious Message

Nathan For You's Oddball Humor Hides a Serious Message
From TIME - October 19, 2017

I am one of the many viewers who, at the height of the Modern Family era, wanted TV comedy to get more class conscious--to develop characters who worried, or at least cared, about money. It's fitting that Comedy Central's M.B.A. fantasia Nathan for You, in its fourth season, fulfilled that wish in a twisted, monkey's-paw manner. The show has made steady business of taking good intentions too far.

Host Nathan Fielder, a Canadian comedian, asks small-business owners what it would take to make their operation a success, and then oversteps in trying to hack a solution. (The situations and reactions, startlingly, are real.) He has the zealous, misguided confidence that it takes to attempt to compete in a post--financial collapse economy.

Fielder's character (also named Nathan Fielder) meets with owners of nail salons and travel agencies in the less-photogenic parts of California and "helps" them carry out imaginative yet thuddingly literal ideas. A restaurant that was denied a license to sell food at a hockey game bypasses the rules with a sealed plastic suit that Fielder fills with hot chili and wears under his clothes. Concerned about the rapaciousness of Uber, Fielder attempts to set up a sleeper cell within the company, drivers who will turn passengers against the car service with bad odors and the song "Mambo No. 5." (In a twist, the driver Fielder tries to help ends up joining Uber--there's no better way to make money today.)

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