Web Series: Nathan Fielder's "David" Explores the World Through the Purview of Depression
It’s easy to portray depression, but it is a whole other thing to actually depict it. Yet, the new series from Super Deluxe, David, does just that.
This five-episode web series, from a website that prides itself on showcasing works from weird, creative people, is made Dean Fleischer-Camp, a director along with his ex-wife Jenny Slate is most famous for creating the similarly strange and melancholic Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.
David stars Nathan Fielder of Nathan for You who is the perfect vessel for the spirit of the show. The show starts off with David in a fortune teller shop as he learns that there is a black stone in his heart. This gives him five days to live, so he decides to settle any affair that is left standing in his life. That includes seeing his ex-wife played by Slate, one final visit to the therapist and one more trip to the park.
What is startling about David is the world it creates. Everything is seen through David’s eyes. Human emotions are muted, colors seem unnatural. In fact, the whole world seems unnatural like the uncanny valley had been broken.
This world is disorientating and hard to grasp. But, that is what depression does to you. Depression can be completely debilitating causing someone to be unable to connect to any aspect of human interaction. The rock that the fortune teller says is in David’s heart is weighing on him, coloring everything he does in his life. David floats through from place to place like a Spike Lee character going through something traumatic.
It is only natural that the person Fleischer-Camp picked to bring David to life is Nathan Fielder whose Nathan for You has been quietly been the best character comedy series in the past few years. On that show, Fielder plays a version of himself cranked up to 100, filled with awkward loneliness. The premise of that show is quasi-reality as Nathan Fielder stars as the host of a business makeover program ala Kitchen Nightmares or Bar Rescue. It is the great satire on how far people will go for the sake of television. But, the show does something greater and stranger by allowing the Nathan character have an arc each season as he is using this show to try to combat his near Asperger’s-like symptoms to connect with other people.
Fielder transplants that persona to David continuing that awkward exchanges and quiet sadness. And truthfully, it is a hard yet fascinating thing to watch. I have had my bouts with depression and David evoked memories and feelings that I would have liked to suppress. But, that is the cathartic nature of watching these things onscreen. It is a way to experience these deep rooted emotions through a third party so that you feel a little less alone.
In a little less than half an hour, Dean Fleischer-Camp has made a web series that portrays how depression can taint a worldview. And he lets that tension bubble and bubble until like the behavioral disease itself, it is suddenly released and that weight is lifted. And to cap it off, it was an appropriately gory way to end it all.