Episodes Of "Nathan For You" Designed Specifically For Me, A Person Who Has Been On Edge Due To Secondhand Embarrassment Since Roughly 2005*
*2005 being, roughly, the year it seemed like commercials finally shifted from the late-90s “extreme”/Clueless/ambient 70s vibe to the “awkward silences” and “I can’t believe you just said that” and “Now you’ve made it weird” vibe that has predominated for well over a decade now. Nathan For You, in case you are not familiar with the premise, is a television show personally designed to hurt me, Daniel Mallory Ortberg. I will not link to a clip from that show because I cannot bear to even look at a screencap. Here are some episode descriptions from Wikipedia.
Nathan goes to a clothing store, where he tries on two shirts in the changing room, has a perfectly friendly-yet-unremarkable conversation with a member of the sales staff, and leaves with a new shirt he purchased with regular money. The shirt is in a bag.
Nathan meets someone who is both unhappy and deluded, and he leaves them alone. Just…he just leaves them alone.
Nathan helpfully answers a stranger’s question, at which point their interaction ends.
Nathan spends some time listening to a friend’s problems without offering advice, just providing a neutral sounding board while they figure out their own priorities in this situation. Then they eat something normal, not like, a really big fish or anything.
Nathan leaves a whole mess of people alone
Just an hour of nothing, maybe there’s a very low, gentle hum in the background and the screen is kind of greyish but nothing more than that, and I give Nathan $500 to not do anything for an hour
Come on, man
It feels like it’s happening to me every time, and I can never figure out if in this nightmare scenario I’m the dupe being stretched thin or if I’m Nathan and I’m suddenly going to blink and find myself in the middle of pushing a total stranger’s buttons during an obviously stressful and painful times and I’m going to have to start piloting Nathan’s body around and extricating myself from the awful, uncomfortable, fingernail-shredding situation he’s created, all while pretending to be Nathan himself and trying to backpedal whatever crazy shit he’s just promised to do
It’s not that I don’t think it’s a good show – I’m not really prepared to evaluate any of its merits – I don’t even know what good would look like for this sort of exercise. Interesting? Worthwhile? Merely unpredictable? I’m not qualified to evaluate this sort of thing! I’m not qualified, I’m not prepared, this isn’t my jurisdiction, man, I don’t want to make any claims about its goodness or badness so much as I want you to understand that the very existence of this show means that Hell is real and designed specifically for me, to torment my exact temperament as thoroughly and as efficiently as possible – I think he’s quite talented, only I don’t really know if talented is the word I want here. He’s very good at extracting something out of others, including me, and I hate it, and it makes me want to die, and I can’t say that about very many television programs, especially the ones that have already gone off the air.
I hit puberty right when Tom Green’s show first started airing, and that seems relevant here; I had a hard time then too and I haven’t stopped cringing ever since
Just be cool, man, just be cool, I don’t want anyone to notice me and when I so much as think about your show I feel like the entire world is showing up to notice me, yell at me, steal my pants, and burn me under a kleig light and I don’t think you’re personally responsible for that particular internal experience of mine but I sure wish you’d take it into consideration before launching any future projects