‘Nathan For You’ was ahead of its time. Its fingerprints are everywhere on the internet.

The TV series “Nathan For You” is the “businessman” Nathan Fielders magnum opus. If you’ve ever seen, you’ll know that his ideas are a raving madman, yet an undoubted genius. The business owners he addresses bow to the knee for his often generous, quirky ideas to spread their commercial success.

It is a show that is special to millions, not only because of its brilliance, but also because of the innocence of its participants. This is a program that first aired in 2013 and ended four years later, debuted at the beginning of Obama’s second term and ended just one year into the chaos of the Trump regime. Then fake news and conspiracy became just another part of the news cycle, the insane became real life, and programs like “Nathan For You” – which permeated a “is it real, is not it” story and a satirical bid for it serious – became a plan for a generation of creators.

“Nathan For You” was always about taking the real and pushing the boundaries of what the public was willing to accept. It is a reminder of a time when people were less aggressive and far more eager to get involved: the American dream still lived in the hearts and minds of everyone on the show, even as their businesses fell apart in the face of the nation’s dwindling economy.

Where the beauty of the Fields series really originates, however, is through its disgusting protagonist. Nathan plays up to an antisocial awkwardness and presents a version of himself that is openly an asshole, while also diving into a softer, more self-conscious side tainted by his own weaknesses. He is the king of manipulation. It’s pure Machiavellian genius.

In one episode, in an attempt to win the battle for taxi drivers against Uber, Nathan promotes free rides for pregnant women in the hopes that a premature birth would throw taxis out into the media whirlwind. In another, he approaches a pet zoo to increase visitor numbers by staging a viral video of a goat rescuing a pig. The “pig stunt” was a huge success, and found itself all over digital media – which reported it as true – long before the skepticism that is now being trained into every writer and reader online existed as it does now.

Although his show, by all means, was successful, it can be argued that it only just tipped in line with the mainstream until it’s last season. To this day, Nathan is still that slightly unrecognizable – especially for a younger generation who entered the internet and social media in the final years of their broadcast. But Nathan’s reach is enormous, and over the last few years, other creators have eaten from his idea buffet.

Although Youtube is synonymous with innovative, original content, it’s filled with “Nathan For You” -inspired content. He has become a source for creators desperately searching for a proven idea that can be fed into the content machine, day in, day out.

One of Nathan’s most acclaimed business ventures comes through “Dumb Starbucks”, a bold attempt to market a small coffee shop to the masses by going through a loophole that allows companies to market similarly to a larger chain, if considered as a “parody”. ”. It is the first major international news coverage, one of Fielders ideas received. The fact that he was able to continue his show for years despite this attention is just further proof of his ability to meddle and skate just below the abyss of being known by everyone.

In 2020, Youtuber Niko Omilana opened a fake McDonalds with the same loophole. Recently, he just opened up a fake Starbucks and called it Starschmucks. Both videos went viral.

Niko got himself a barrage of subscribers from these videos. KFC was even rumored to have reached out to cooperate. And while others may be less admissive and think this Starschmucks idea is a little too close to the original idea, it’s just an example of “Nathan For You” as a digital content plan. A good example that imitation is the highest form of flattery.

While “Starschmucks” is perhaps the most obvious of the imitations, Fielders’ legacy extends farther. Other creators, such as BuzzFeed’s Mike Carrier, YouTuber Mr Beast, and even VICE’s own Oobah Butler, have ridden the invisible wave that was accelerated by Fielder’s creation – one that asks the public to believe, if only for a second, in the strange man just trying. to see how much he can get away with.

“I Got Hunted by a Real Bounty Hunter” is Mr Beasts’ version of Fielders’ ‘Hunted by a Private Investigator’ episode in season 1. BuzzFeeds, ‘I Tried to Escaping a Bounty Hunter’ also plays for Fielders’ infamous death- pan style.

Most recently, the star of the hit YouTube show “Chicken Shop Dates”, Amelia Dimz, released a video titled “Celebrity Rebrand” titled “Celebrity Rebrand”. often peculiar method.

And even “Nathan For You” has its clear inspirations. Shows like “The Ali G Show” (and almost everything Sasha Baron Cohen has done) pushed for the idea of ​​a satirical, host-driven program, just as the Internet was finding its feet. But in an era where the social internet and the creative economy (horror) have made an entire generation believe they need to create content, there are few things easier or more accessible than being a named version of yourself with a few good ones ideas to make the public better off.

These days, if you are looking for a big hit, it is not enough to be yourself online. Of course, people appreciate being genuine in theirs personal accounts, but the 2020s will be about the personalities you can build on top of yourself. “All Gas No Brakes” takes gonzo interviewing to the next level – but even the host, Andrew Callaghan, and the rest of the editing team know what they’re doing. Hosts who take this to the top level, like Eric Andre or Crackhead Barney, present news stories and politics with downright bizarre and polarizing host styles.

Now, all of this could just be a walk on why “Nathan For You” is incredible – and I will not apologize for that. Every day I wake up in the hope that he’s back: his sleek oxford shirt and stoic, unbroken gaze that reflects back on me on my TV screen. But really, I see Nathan everywhere now.

At the end of the day, “Nathan For You” was perfect content for the social internet. Smart, sweet and just the right amount revealing – it showed us who we really are. It’s just a shame that it packed up before things really started to get going.

Follow Julie Fenwick further Twitter and Instagram.

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