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Is The Rehearsal on HBO real? All your questions answered

Nathan Fielder in The Rehearsal on HBO and HBO Max
The Rehearsal is now airing on HBO. (Image credit: Courtesy of HBO)

The Rehearsal is the latest project from the mind of Canadian comedian, Nathan Fielder.

Following on from the outlandish marketing ploys he offered up to struggling businesses in Nathan For You five years ago, The Rehearsal is a reality-comedy series that sees him offering his assistance to a group of people once again... but in a very different way. 

Instead of pretending to be a brilliant marketing consultant, The Rehearsal instead sees Nathan giving his willing participants the chance to rehearse how they will approach a particular moment in their lives, from the inconsequential to the significant.

He drafts a crew and assembles talented actors up to create a surreal controllable version of the scenario in question, all with the aim of helping the participant to prepare for the moment in question.

But is The Rehearsal real? How long is it? And where can you watch it? We've got the answers to all your burning questions about The Rehearsal.

Is the Rehearsal real?

*spoilers for episode one of The Rehearsal below*

The Rehearsal's main tension comes in the balancing act between what's real and what's not, as Nathan is guiding people through a set of carefully constructed scenarios with the view of helping them to prepare for the real thing.

Although HBO has not actually confirmed whether The Rehearsal is scripted or not, it certainly feels real, based on what we've seen so far in episode one.

Here, Kor, a 50-year-old teacher responds to the Craigslist ad Nathan puts out. Kor feels guilty about lying about his qualifications to his trivia quiz teammates. In particular, he wants Nathan's help to confess his guilt to Tricia, one of his teammates.

The lengths that Nathan and the crew go to to "precreate" this difficult conversation (including building an exact replica of the bar they play trivia at) would suggest any sense of "reality" in the show is manufactured. There are so many layers built up throughout the episode that it feels impossible to consider that any of the reactions in the show could be true to life. 

Nathan Fielder in front of a door in The Rehearsal

Nathan Fielder. (Image credit: Courtesy of HBO)

However, there are parts of the show— such as when Kor gets so drawn into the fake trivia game they're staging that he stops focussing on his actual mission to plan his confession — that does make it feel genuine. 

Furthermore, The Rehearsal also sees Nathan experimenting with how others react to him. During the episode, we see that Nathan had rehearsed his own conversation with Kor with the actor he'd hired to play the fake Kor and had sent in a team to construct a replica of Kor's home so that Nathan could prepare to invite Kor on the show. 

In effect, this reveal makes Nathan just as much a participant in The Rehearsal as his guests. If this new HBO show really is a vehicle for Nathan to explore whether his personality really does make others feel uncomfortable around him, it can't be fake, either.

How many episodes of The Rehearsal are there?

The Rehearsal's first season is six episodes long. The first episode aired on Friday, July 15. 

See more

Is The Rehearsal on HBO Max?

The Rehearsal continues Fridays at 11 pm ET on HBO, and that means you can also find the show available to stream on HBO Max, too.

At the time of writing, we don't know whether the series will be shown in the UK, as HBO has not made an official announcement just yet.

Since it's on HBO in the US, the smart bet is that The Rehearsal will be available on Sky TV and/or streaming on NOW as and when it does arrive.

Martin Shore
Martin Shore

Martin is a Staff Writer with WhatToWatch.com, where he produces a variety of articles focused on the latest and greatest films and TV shows. 

Some of his favorite shows are What We Do In The Shadows, Bridgerton, Gangs of London, The Witcher, Doctor Who, and Ghosts. When he’s not watching TV or at the movies, Martin’s probably still in front of a screen playing the latest video games, reading, or watching the NFL.