Nathan Fielder's The Rehearsal Introduced The Best Television Character Of The Year

Think about any of the truly great characters introduced on television over the past few years. Walter White, Don Draper, Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, Che Diaz. These characters and many more like them have graced our television screens with compelling stories as the medium progressed throughout its second Golden Age.

However, one can argue that none of these characters are as instantly iconic as the subject of this very article. That subject, of course, is a man named Robbin, a devout Christian and one of the side character's on this past week's episode of "The Rehearsal." At first glance, he seems like a fine enough guy: He meets up with the episode's central character, Angela, and they instantly bond over their faith. Even Nathan Fielder, the leader of HBO's newest pseudo-reality circus act, seemed to think Robbin could be a welcome addition to Angela's two-month journey into motherhood (over the course of two months, she will "raise" a baby boy named Adam from an infant to an 18-year-old with the help of numerous child actors and their parents).

Of course, Robbin wasn't all that he seemed to be, but the revelation of his true self makes him arguably the best television character of the year. He's chaotic, ridiculous, and you can't believe he's real, making him a perfect encapsulation of just how absurd our lives are right now.

What're you stepping to?

Angela's dream involves her raising children with a husband — this is the journey she's "rehearsing" for, as the title of the series indicates — so Angela goes on a few dates to see if any of her dating app matches would be a good fit for the experiment. This is where Robbin comes in. The two meet on an app and then in person, and connect over their strong Christian beliefs, with Angela telling Fielder that she wants him to join her simulation. When the time comes for her to ask him if he wants to spend the night, he agrees, although he says he needs to grab some things from his apartment. Fielder tags along with him, giving the audience a glimpse into the real Robbin, and it is spectacular.

He isn't celibate. He looks at his phone in his lap while driving. He has three mattresses in his room. His car doesn't have a license plate, because he thinks a license plate is optional. Best of all, however, is that he has an obsession with so-called angel numbers (numbers where digits repeat, such as 88 for "new beginnings") and talking about how he survived crashing his Scion tC at 100 miles per hour. Oh, and he also thinks his roommate, who tells him to chill out with the angel number talk and recommends that Robbin buy his own mayonnaise, is possessed by a demon.

Try to act surprised when I reveal this, but Robbin doesn't end up making it the entire night at Angela's place. After around three instances of Angela's robot baby waking him up (not to mention the fact that she tells him she's not going to have sex until she's married), Robbin decides to peace out.

A deeper look

It's fair to say that everyone has met a person like Robbin in their lifetime. And according to the Pew Research Center, around three in ten American adults said that the COVID-19 pandemic strengthened or reinvigorated their religious beliefs. While it is, of course, unlikely that these participants are quite as zealous as Robbin is, the data shows a sizable amount of people have turned to such traditions and rituals as a source of stability in these difficult times. In an interview with Vice, Robbin explained that he became religious for that aforementioned stability, crediting his religious awakening to surviving a separate nasty accident, so his ritualistic following of angel numbers makes sense in this regard.

It's unfair of me to make any assumptions about the guy, given how we've only really seen him through a television show. Maybe he's actually a nice guy whose whole persona is a schtick. Maybe the Twitter user claiming to be Robbin's brother is right in calling him "a dangerous psychopath." I don't know the guy personally and I likely never will, so much about him will remain mysterious. But one thing's for sure: He's one of the best television characters of the year so far.

"The Rehearsal" airs every Friday on HBO and is streaming on HBO Max.