How Nathan Fielder Discovered Religious Fundamentalism

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Nathan Fielder’s New Show Repetition covers a myriad of topics, including secrets, emotional repression, social anxiety, connecting with other human beings, and parenting.

As with many of Fielder’s projects, it’s metatextual and voyeuristic in a way that engenders deep discomfort in the viewer. It’s a comedic show that lives off of cringe-worthy moments where we watch people we can’t believe live in this world espouse ideas we never imagined people might think of.

But while making this show, Nathan Fielder stumbles across something the show never wanted to address: religious fundamentalism.

Family values. Courtesy of HBO.

Nathan Fielder is Jewish. He’s not very forthcoming about it. He mentions that he stopped going to the temple because it was “boring”. In fact, the only time he talks about his religion is when it is mentioned by others.

Which means he has to talk about his religion, quite often, in Repetition.

The basic premise of the show: Nathan, who is profoundly socially awkward, would like the opportunity to prepare for major life events by rehearsing them in advance, so he wants to give others the opportunity to make same.

He helps a man who lied to his panel about his upbringing, helps a woman prepare for motherhood, and helps a man trying to convince his brother to give him his grandfather’s inheritance. Along the way, we laugh at the startling reality of these people and how they behave under absurd circumstances. His comedy has always been based on squeaky moments of pseudo-reality.

But in his new show, Nathan Fielder is forced to satirize religious fanaticism and bigotry.

Nathan’s second experience is with Angela, a woman who wants to be a mother but hasn’t found the right person to settle down with. Nathan finds her a home in Oregon and goes through the logistical ordeal of constantly casting child actors so she can experience motherhood without actually giving birth.

Angela is, in polite terms, quite religious.

Satanic rituals are everywhere. Courtesy of HBO.

After what she describes as a dark past of alcohol and drugs, she threw herself into Christianity. At one point, Nathan and a child actor dress up for Halloween. Instead of being excited for them, Angela explains to Nathan that Halloween is when Satanic rituals are performed. Despite Nathan’s evidence to the contrary, she is adamant that Satanism is everywhere.

One of the only times Nathan loses his temper is when Angela gives him a list of the many things in the world run by Satanists. It may be during his fourth rant about occultists that Nathan finally asks if she could write down a list of all the things that are occult rituals so he can keep track.

Part of the experience is finding her a man to help her start a family. When she meets a man she loves, he is just as fundamentalist as she is.

Each number is a reference to the Bible. There are a million cosmic coincidences that only he can see. He also smokes weed before driving and, by his own admission, never uses a condom during sex. When Nathan goes home, he finds the man fighting with his roommate because the roommate is tired of being bombarded with constant Bible talk.

Suddenly, it seems like religion pops up in every episode. Why? A big reason is the new setting.

The Pacific Northwest is one of the whitest regions in the United States, and despite having the highest overall proportions of non-religious people in the country, it also has large swaths of extreme religious fundamentalism. Oregon had Black exclusion laws that discouraged black settlers and entered the union as “white onlyState. The KKK has had some of its greatest political victories in the Northwest, and neo-Nazism thrives there nowadays. The idea that places like Portland are liberal tags is complicated by both the story and by recent events.

That’s why when helping a man rehearse the conversation with his brother about their grandfather’s inheritance, the man casually mentions that his girlfriend can’t be a gold digger because ‘she’s ‘Jewish’ and ‘you know how Jews are with money.

Religious tension comes to a head when Nathan, now settled in the house to help Angela raise their fake child, wants to introduce the child to Judaism. She categorically denies him the opportunity to do so, then explains that her favorite movie is apocalypto.

So he does it in secret.

He begins to take their fake child to a Jewish teacher. The teacher eventually confronts Angela, which leads to a deeply uncomfortable argument.

Soon, this conflict leads Angela to leave the show because she cannot compromise her values. But she never was asked compromise their values. He was only asked to introduce another set of values ​​as well.

If that isn’t Christian supremacy cloaked behind a polished facade, then nothing is.

Even with the child actor who plays Nathan’s fake son, a conflict arises with the actor’s mother, who asks Nathan to explain to their son that he is not Jewish. When Nathan satirically explains that Judaism is made up and he’s going to hell, the actor’s mother firmly agrees.

But the show is not just about anti-Semitism and that (despite reports to the contrary) is alive and well. This is the arrogant and illogical nature of all religious fundamentalism.

After Angela leaves and her fake son’s Jewish teacher arrives to celebrate Hanukkah, she has a talk with Nathan. This conversation did not need to be included in the show. If the show was only about attacks on Judaism, it would have been cut.

In this scene, the Jewish teacher corners Nathan about the Palestinian conflict and how the media favors it, informing Nathan that he must support Israel. When he refuses to be drawn into the conversation, she nags him about using the show as a platform to support Israel until he finally has to change the subject.

The works of Nathan Fielder never intended to examine religion. They didn’t need it. His show ain’t like Boratusing satirical docu-style to bring out the true feelings of bigotry in unseen parts of the United States.

But in this part of the country, where despite the crisp reputation of the region, Christian supremacy and intolerance of all kinds continue to rage, the show must remedy this. Nathan seems bored or disinterested in religion. He only wants to include her in the life of his fake child because he is pushed by his parents because he so rarely stands up for himself in relationships.

Prepare for all of life’s possibilities. Courtesy of HBO.

The show inadvertently shows that the growing Christian religious fundamentalism in the United States can no longer be ignored. It is among the almost anti-socially insistent people who are convinced that everything is a sign and deny the fundamental reality of facts. As Borat showed, in key moments, bubbling anti-Muslim hatred after 9/11.

Repetition shows that if people can be this comfortable with their religious fundamentalism, then Christian supremacy might already be here.

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