Review: How to with John Wilson (S3) – Stepping outside one last time

Created by John Wilson
Starring John Wilson
Network: Binge & Foxtel GO


Ending this series with a third season seems somewhat appropriate, even though the nature of the show seems contradictory – its simple conceit makes it appear limited, yet also so expansive, as if there could be numerous seasons. This is a show about all things in modern life, from a specific New York perspective, with tips on how to live next door to your neighbours, find a nearby public restroom, watch the game, find the best vacuum cleaner, and live forever are all explored in just this season.

John Wilson, our narrator and cameraman, simply heads outside and wanders around New York, filming all the weird, wonderful, and awfully disturbed. Probably more scripted than it appears, but the show does a smooth job at initially showing the oddities of what John films outside, then connecting it to John spending time with usually one person, or a small community of people, throughout the rest of the episode.

What’s always been one of the most remarkable aspects of the series are the confessions Wilson gets from the people he speaks to. As the seasons have gone on, it appears he spends more and more time with his subjects, and makes them comfortable enough and gives them probing enough questions to get intimate revelations about them. One of the most shocking of these comes in the last episode, where a man (who’s planning to be cryogenically frozen) speaks of the time in his early adulthood where he began his life of celibacy … by gradually castrating himself. The things people say about themselves when they’re on camera!

John has never been too revealing or gimmicky or meta with his own show, keeping it refreshingly simple all throughout, though he does allow himself a bit of scripted “drama” just once for his second last episode. It’s appropriate, given that he’s commentating on fake-outs, and addresses how he feels about it in his own show. It’s a nice piece of comedy, exploring the way reality television (and people in general) can either lie or violently bend the truth.

It shouldn’t be hyperbole to say that, as a whole, this series is a life-changer. It’s a comfortable watch because of John’s unassuming and friendly narration. But it’s also a friendly criticism of some of New York’s glaring and inane flaws, showing the colourful city to also sometimes seem like a nightmarish hellscape. This season is a welcome continuation of what the previous seasons have shown, but this also seems to be the best place to end, as we’ll see what incredible comedic and revealing new program John Wilson has in store next.