Two weeks ago on November 9th 2017 the season finale of the fourth season of Nathan For You aired. The feature length episode (an hour and 24 minutes) had been hyped by the promotional material for the series and expectations were high after the spectacular season finale for the third season. If you’ve never seen an episode of Nathan For You the premise might sound insane but it totally works. It is a docu-reality comedy series co-created by comedian Nathan Fielder and airs on Comedy Central. The premise is Fielder plays an off-kilter slightly exaggerated version of himself who tries to use his business background and life experiences to help struggling companies and people. He frequently offers them outlandish and ridiculous strategies and despite the reluctance of the business owners they often go through it. The lines between reality and fiction are tricky. None of the contributors and business owners are actors but Fielder and his team have an eye for finding the weirdest, most interesting and sometimes delusional people. He also has a large production team who are able to orchestrate and are able to put the ridiculous plans into action. Despite not being scripted the series often gets into the most extreme and farcical situations imaginable.
In a season two episode titled “Souvenir Shop / E.L.A.I.F.F.” Nathan helps a Hollywood souvenir shop and during the episode meets a Bill Gates impersonator. The season four finale begins by looking back to when Nathan and a so-called Bill Gates impersonator, Bill Heath, recorded commentary for a DVD release. Bill comes to their office regularly to drop gifts and chat with the team. But he is preoccupied by a long-lost love, a woman named Frances Gaddy who he regrets not marrying. As a lonely 78 year old he doesn’t have much in his life and still clings on to the glory days of playing (American) football in high school. Nathan decides to take on the mission of finding Frances. It’s an ambitious task as there are over 600, 000 women in the U.S. named Frances and she’s likely to have a different surname if she married, nevertheless Nathan goes through with it. Throughout the four seasons of this show Nathan has gone through a lot of ambitious tasks and while this might not be overall the most difficult one it’s the most emotionally-affecting one making this the best episode of Nathan For You ever. Nathan and Bill go back his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. Frances went to another high school to Bill, in a town called Dumas a couple of hours from Little Rock. They have difficult gaining access to the school but as usual Nathan comes up with a ridiculous plan which somehow works. Nathan and his team pretend they’re shooting a sequel to the 2012 film Mud, starring Matthew McConaughey, called Mud 2: Never Clean. They find a random extra in the background of the film and gain access to Dumas High School. This is all so they can find a yearbook with a picture of Frances and use it as a lead to find her.
While this episode is about Bill’s desire to find Frances and declare his love for her, it contains some surprisingly vulnerable moments from Nathan. It’s difficult to tell where the real Nathan begins and the persona ends but they seem close as Nathan comes across as a naturally shy and awkward individual in interviews. When he finds out that Bill wasn’t the best boyfriend to Frances, Nathan hires an escort to see how he treats women. Bill refuses to talk to the escort but since Nathan has already paid for the services he goes on a number of dates with the escort. Although it’s difficult to tell the escort seems to like him. The episode concludes with Nathan and Bill finding Frances through a newspaper clipping and looking her up on Facebook. They discover that Frances is married but Bill still wants to go see her in person. Nathan sets up rehearsals with an actress who looks somewhat like Frances so Bill can practise what he’s going to say. When they drive up to where Frances lives Bill is so nervous after all the anticipation he calls her and decides not to see her in person after realising she’s happy in her marriage. In the end, Bill asks Nathan how to get into contact with the actress and when they meet it seems she genuinely likes him. This feature-length episode is one of the best episodes of television I’ve ever watched. It’s a sad but honest and poignant portrayal of regret and how we as humans want to be loved. Nathan For You has been renewed for a fifth season but this is likely to be the best episode the show’s ever done.