Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Learn some valuable life lessons with How To With John Wilson

Illustration for article titled Learn some valuable life lessons with How To With John Wilson
Photo: Zach Dilgard/HBO

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Friday, November 13, and Saturday, November 14. All times are Eastern. 


Top pick

How To With John Wilson (HBO, Friday, 11 p.m.): It’s not often that a viewer comes across a TV series that feels completely and utterly itself. When you do—and it’s a good series, to boot—it feels like a gift. That’s not to say that How To With John Wilson, HBO’s surprisingly moving, deeply weird, and very funny comic sort-of docuseries, isn’t indebted to any of its predecessors. Nathan Fielder’s an executive producer, and the influence of Fielder and others is obvious. But Wilson’s gentle show is an original beast. Wilson—director, cinematographer, co-writer, and genially awkward narrator—heads out into New York and the wider world with his camera, open eyes, and an off-kilter curiosity that leads him from his ostensible subject to places, people, and ideas that one could never predict. He’s here to show you the world and give advice about small talk, scaffolding, furniture covering, splitting the check, and so on, but that’s always just the starting point. Each episode (particularly the sensational finale, airing in two weeks) is on its own one of the year’s most satisfying surprises; together, they’re close to unbeatable.

Can you binge it? The first three episodes can be streamed through HBO; episode four airs tonight. We heartily suggest starting at the beginning, but you can certainly jump in with tonight’s gem and then work backwards if you like.

Regular coverage

The Mandalorian (Disney+, Friday, 3:01 a.m.)
The Great British Baking Show (Netflix, Friday, 3:01 a.m.)

From Film Club

I Am Greta (Hulu, Friday, 3:01 a.m., premiere): “Greta Thunberg has been a well-known and controversial public figure for about two years now, which makes the images of her in the opening sequence of the documentary I Am Greta unexpectedly poignant. The 15-year-old is seen sitting alone against a wall near the Swedish legislature, with a handwritten sign announcing her refusal to go to school, as a protest against the government’s unwillingness to address the climate change crisis in any urgent or meaningful way. No one who walks by knows who she is. Occasionally, an adult will kneel down to ask if she’s okay, but when she starts to talk about the environment—and offers them her detailed fact sheet—they scurry away as quickly as they can. This looks to be an inauspicious start to one of the most significant political movements of our era.” Read the rest of Noel Murray’s film review.

Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds (Apple TV+, Friday, 3:01 a.m., premiere): Werner Herzog’s latest “ostensibly explores the world of meteorites, from the small rock that smashed through an Alabama woman’s roof in 1954, badly bruising her on one hip, to the gigantic bolide that killed every non-avian dinosaur some 66 million years ago. The film’s true focus, however, is those who love meteorites and are excited to share that passion, their ardor burning as brightly as those streaks through the sky.” Read the rest of Mike D’Angelo’s film review.

For kids

Doug Unplugs (Apple TV+, Friday, 3:01 a.m., complete first season): In the latest from Dreamworks TV, Doug is a robot who is also a boy. He makes friends. That’s how he “unplugs,” which is a lot less morbid than it might otherwise seem.

The Astronauts (Nickelodeon, Friday, 7 p.m., one-hour series premiere): A bunch of scamps sneak into a space shuttle and wind up in space in this collaboration between Imagine Entertainment and Nickelodeon.

Christmas in mid-November

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Netflix, Friday, 3:01 a.m.): Okay, this looks like an absolute blast.

Wild cards

Time for another wild card lightning round:

Becoming You (Apple TV+, Friday, 3:01 a.m., complete first season): Olivia Colman narrates this docuseries, which follows 100 children from around the globe as they navigate their first 2,000 days on earth.

Inside Pixar (Disney+, Friday, 3:01 a.m., complete first season): Go behind the scenes at one of the world’s great animation studios in this new docuseries.

Great Performances, “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” (PBS, Friday, 9 p.m.): Heads up, musical theatre nerds and/or people who just love Topol—this is right up your alley.

Austin City Limits, “Jackie Venson/Mavis Staples with special guest Bonnie Raitt” (PBS, Saturday, 11 p.m.): This one got an immediate “yes please” even before we got to the words “special guest Bonnie Raitt.”

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!