How To With John Wilson is not what I expected. A year ago, its executive producer, Nathan Fielder, had trouble explaining it to me. “Well, John shoots video around New York City and talks over it. It’s really great. You have to see it.” When I finally watched the first episode, “How To Make Small Talk,” it rocked me. It’s very awkward, and very funny. John winds up at spring break in Cancún, Mexico, seeking friendship. For a moment, you wonder if he is making fun of everyone partying in pre-COVID days. He starts hanging around with a young man who is wild and ridiculous in his pursuit of fun. This all leads to a very intimate conversation where the man admits he is there because he is grieving the loss of a friend who committed suicide. I watched in tears.
What has John Wilson created? What is this format? What he shows in How To is not the view from a video camera. It is how we all see the world through our eyes. We walk the world, occasionally catching glimpses of ourselves in mirrors as we observe beauty, madness, comedy, horror, magic, pain, absurdity, joy, ugliness, love, connection. It is life. This strange, seemingly lonely, sweet man is us.
Apatow is a film director, producer, writer and comedian