The small absurd oddities of life often go unremarked upon. Yet some find ways to turn the seemingly banal into an artistic endeavor. No one in entertainment seems as great at bringing this to life quite like John Wilson. While some audiences are aware of the incredible How to With John Wilson, the series has strangely not crossed over into the mainstream. The documentarian dives deep into niche subjects, but it’s his willingness to follow the absurd paths he discovers makes How To one of the best shows on television.
Early in Season 3, he finds himself talking to a man about a Missle Silo as a house. Another woman brings him to Burning Man, only for Burning Man to come back up in the very next episode. He tries to go to a frat party, meets a competitive pumpkin grower, and attends a cat expo. Along the way, Wilson provides zany visual montages, extremely funny cuts to create humor, and his trademark 2nd person narration.
How To With John Wilson remains at the pinnacle of its art form because of Wilson. The creator reveals elements of his personal life in some of his narration, as well as in random asides. This comes into focus during his time at the Emmys (how we get there, we’ll leave spoiler free). Hearing creatives come to the realization that their efforts do not result in any meaningful personal fulfillment can feel awkward.
Yet there’s honesty in those moments that resonates. Most of us have achieved something others would envy, only to realize it did not meet our expectations. Yet others find the bright side, achieving new personal bests despite falling short of their goals. He finds surprisingly profound meaning time and time again over the season.
For Wilson, this appears to be the final season. It’s rare that a show slips through the cracks quite like How To has over the past few years. What Wilson accomplished with his series has been incredible to see. His vision shines through, creating a documentary series that not only captures its subjects being earnest but never feels like it’s scraping the bottom of the barrel for laughs. Wilson’s ability to piece together incredible narratives from seemingly simple ideas is one thing. Many directors and showrunners find their projects in the edit. The sheer amount of footage he collects makes it likely that he has enough footage for ten seasons of How To. It’s a loss for HBO and television that we will stop at three, but what a three we got.
How to With John Wilson may not be for everyone. Yet few shows feel as strangely vital as this one. Wilson’s series remains the most creative show on television. He pushes the boundaries of what makes television such an appealing medium. Wilson’s penchant to invent, change, and find the nuances of life makes How to With John Wilson essential viewing. While we might be saying goodbye to this iteration of his career, we were gifted with a series with few equals in the modern TV landscape.