Nathan For You season 4 finale review: a beautifully poignant portrayal of regret and loss

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.

Emmys 2017 recap: women and minorities celebrated during politically-charged ceremony as Big Little Lies, The Handmaid’s Tale and SNL dominate

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards, which took place this past Sunday, were unsurprisingly politically-charged. Stephen Colbert made several jokes at Trump’s expense during the monologue and it was a solid funny monologue. It was certainly an improvement from Jimmy Kimmel’s last year and it almost goes off without a hitch. That was until Colbert introduced a surprise guest — former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. In a reference to Melissa McCarthy’s popular SNL parody of him, Spicer wheeled a podium onstage and Colbert then set Spicer up for a gag about the Emmy ratings. It received a big reaction from the audience, notably Anna Chlumsky, an actor on the political satire Veep, who was caught on camera with her mouth agape in disbelief. However it weakens how seemingly progressive the Emmys were this year and highlights the hypocrisy of the industry.

The two big winners of the night were HBO’s Big Little Lies which took the award for best limited series and Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale which won for best drama series, with both series winning five awards each in total that night. While The Night Of would have personally been my pick for best limited series, I have yet to see Big Little Lies and it’s good it won because it’s led by an ensemble cast of talented women. Similarly is the case for The Handmaid’s Tale which I have not seen either was an inspired choice considering its feminist politics and the parallels it has with the real world. However, it was a shame to see The Americans one of the most critically acclaimed series currently in the era of peak TV, snubbed again after it was finally recognised with a nod last year.

Emmy veteran, Veep, won for its six consecutive year and while I still enjoy the show, the latest two seasons have lacked the edge it once had especially considering how insane real world politics are. I personally felt Donald Glover’s Atlanta in its freshman season was far more deserving and was the best season of television I’ve seen in a long while. However Glover made history becoming the first African-American to win Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series and the second to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. It was one of many firsts as other minorities won and achieved milestones on the night. Sterling K. Brown won an Emmy for his Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, the first in 19 years when Andre Braugher won for Homicide. However, he was one of the only winners to be cut off by the music while Nicole Kidman and Elizabeth Moss who gave longer speeches were not. Riz Ahmed became the first Asian man and the first Muslim to win an acting award. Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe won Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, with Waithe becoming the first African-American woman to win that award. She gave one of the best speeches of the night in support of the L.G.B.T.Q.I.A. community saying “the things that make us different, those are our superpowers.” As with the Oscars, let’s hope diversity is not simply a trend but change continues to happen. Until next year, Emmys.