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HBO renews The Rehearsal, admits it doesn’t know what we’re in for

Nathan Fielder’s social experiment TV show will be doing... more in season 2

Nathan Fielder standing with a laptop on a sling looking intently at two men chatting over a table in The Rehearsal Photo: HBO
Zosha Millman (she/her) manages TV coverage at Polygon as TV editor, but will happily write about movies, too. She’s been working as a journalist for more than 10 years.

If your mind has been rankled by Nathan Fielder’s The Rehearsal in the past five weeks (which is to say, if you have watched Nathan Fielder’s The Rehearsal at all), then we’ve got good news: HBO has renewed the show for a second season, the network announced Friday.

The renewal comes just before the season 1 finale on Friday night, when viewers will be able to see how Fielder’s latest rehearsal process with his “son” is going.

The Rehearsal was sold as a docuseries, and its ostensible thrust was helping people prepare for life’s biggest moments — becoming a parent or confessing you lied about a master’s degree — by allowing them to rehearse them under Fielder’s careful, anxious eye. The result is an intricate and meticulous series that simultaneously builds up Fielder’s persona of situational cringe comedy and deconstructs the artifice of it in real time.

If that sounds highfalutin, it is. The introspective series isn’t as complicated to watch as it is to describe, but becomes increasingly self-aware as it goes on. With each episode taking wild turns into social anxieties and the nature of performance in reality television, it’s hard to know exactly what part of Fielder or the show The Rehearsal will turn over next. And though HBO is giving it a second season, the news release suggests that the powers that be are just as intrigued and perplexed as we are.

“Nathan has sparked such a lively conversation with The Rehearsal,” Amy Gravitt, executive vice president of HBO programming, said in a statement on the renewal. “We have no idea where season 2 will take us, and that is the delight of this boundary pushing show from a truly singular talent.”

While audiences will have to wait until Friday evening to see how Fielder sets up a second season (if at all), there’s no word yet on whether a season 2 budget will allow for even more scrupulous set re-creation.

the poster for season 2 of The Rehearsal, showing Nathan Fielder standing on a studio set of a bedroom with a woman sitting on the edge of the bed Image: HBO