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Nathan Fielder goes deeper down the rabbit hole in ‘The Curse’

Comedian’s newest work brings cringe, absurdity to psychological thriller series

<p>Everything Nathan Fielder does, within the television screen and outside of it, is part of some absurdist fever dream that may or may not mean something.</p><p>Courtesy of Showtime</p>

Everything Nathan Fielder does, within the television screen and outside of it, is part of some absurdist fever dream that may or may not mean something.

Courtesy of Showtime

It started off oh, so simply — Nathan Fielder, a graduate of one of Canada’s top business schools with really good grades, would go into struggling businesses and implement out-of-the-box ideas to hopefully get them out of whatever rut they had found themselves in. While the businesses were real, Fielder’s ideas were anything but serious, part of a docu-reality comedy series both created by and starring the Canadian actor and comedian.

That show, “Nathan For You,” ended in 2017 and was followed quickly by “The Rehearsal,” a project that leaned further into the absurdism and mind-bending merging of fiction and reality that “Nathan For You” only partially explored.

Those two shows, utilizing intense audience discomfort as their primary weapon, solidified Fielder as one of the most innovative comedic minds of our time. In a Fielder show, cringe is inevitable, but his most recent project, “The Curse,” takes these feelings of discomfort to impossible heights.

The fully scripted show follows Asher (Fielder) and Whitney Siegel (Emma Stone), a couple developing an HGTV show about revamping a small New Mexico town while struggling to conceive a child. The locals soon find their tactics problematic and the couple tries desperately to save face. In one weak attempt to do so, Asher gives a girl selling soda in a parking lot a hundred dollars as the show’s cameras are rolling but quickly takes back the money after getting the shot. As a result, the girl “curses” Asher and the couple becomes paranoid that they could actually be cursed.


As a completely scripted series, it would make sense for “The Curse” to feel somewhat different from “Nathan For You” and “The Rehearsal.” But in reality, the show is just a further step down the line of Fielder’s absurdist world. Fielder, as a result, has risen above all of his individual projects to become something of a comedic enigma, who plants himself in different high-concept worlds as essentially the same individual following varying degrees of scriptedness. 

Now, with the release of his first completely fictional project, Fielder’s real-world persona is as elusive as it has ever been, most recently exemplified by a bizarre interview on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” where Fielder insisted that he had been playing a character in all of his previous public appearances. The interview added another oddly shaped puzzle piece to the overall riddle of “What exactly is Nathan Fielder trying to do?” 

Even only three episodes deep, “The Curse” is the most puzzling of Fielder’s shows — mainly due to its near complete ditching of comedy. Instead, the show opts for a narrative more akin to a psychological thriller with the occasional awkward chuckle here and there. 

“The Curse” can be a tough watch if you are not prepared to be deeply unsettled every minute you sit watching it, but breaking through that barrier unveils the deeply disturbing genius of one of the greatest creative voices walking on Earth today. Nothing really makes sense in Fielder’s world, and it’s best that it stays that way. His work is a force to behold in all its strange and cringe-inducing glory, even if it is likely to turn off most audiences. 

“The Curse” is a work that must be watched in release order to be understood and now that the show is in its early infancy, it’s the perfect opportunity for all viewers to hop on the train and learn what this curse truly is.


Finn Kirkpatrick

Finn Kirkpatrick is the senior editor of multimedia of the Brown Daily Herald's 134th editorial board. He is a junior from Los Angeles, California studying Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies. He was previously an Arts & Culture editor and has a passion for Tetris and Mario Kart.

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