You know HBO’s old slogan, it’s not TV, it’s HBO.
That’s kind of how I feel when watching one of said subscription service’s new(ish) offerings, How To with John Wilson.
Trying to describe the premise of the show is like trying to explain water to a fish. Short version: it’s good.
How To airs Friday nights on HBO. I think it’s 10:00 or maybe 10:30… who’s really paying attention in the streaming era? I know that it magically shows up on HBO Max at some point Friday night, and even if I “miss it” (20th century TV talk right there) it’s available Saturday morning. Last week instead of cartoons my son and I watched it together. Yeah, my seven-year-old son and I watching HBO programming together. That’s what makes How To so good. It works on many levels. (Sometimes it gets a little adult but thankfully this one wasn’t.) I’d make the summary something like this…
It’s a documentary. About something. Usually some cohesive topic for the week but not necessarily a story, per se. It’s short clips from a guy with a sort-of hidden camera, though sometimes the subjects being filmed are aware they’re being interviewed. Sometimes not. It’s just regular people, regular things, sometimes regular and sometimes unusual circumstances. Mostly filmed in New York City, and it’s definitely got a New York City vibe. In a city this big even day-to-day life is bound to get a little interesting.
The cameraman/narrator of this first-person story is the eponymous Wilson. He’s a Binghamton University graduate (that’s what brought me to the show in the first place), class of 2008.
You know you’re old when the “famous” people from your college graduated after you did.
“Critically acclaimed” is a common adjective to describe Wilson’s show. And now I think Wilson too, whose social awkwardness works perfectly in his How To world. He’s in a class by himself because I can’t think of anyone else doing what he’s doing as commercially successfully as he. Without selling out. It’s magical.
Episode Two of Season Two airs tonight. If you haven’t seen Season One yet do yourself a favor and check out those half dozen episodes from 2020 and get caught up in the story.
Actually there’s no story. You’ll just be entertained.
Because… it’s good.