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

Nathan Fielder creeps toward cult leader in this How To With John Wilson clip

Illustration for article titled Nathan Fielder creeps toward cult leader in this How To With John Wilson clip
Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic (Getty Images)

Although HBO’s How To With John Wilson is very much its own show—with New York filmmaker Wilson wandering the streets of his hometown, filming whatever oddities catch his eye while loosely exploring a “How to?” theme—it definitely carries some of the hallmarks of one of its executive producers, Nathan Fielder, i.e., an obsession he shares with Wilson with the odd rough edges of human behavior. HBO has now steered hard into that very awkward little inlet with a new promotional clip for the series, a purported “Anatomy Of A Scene” breakdown that starts in a fairly straightforward way, and then swerves its way into some pretty familiar Fielder-esque madness.

In fact, the only thing that really distinguishes the above clip from an old Nathan For You bit is that we’re pretty sure everyone involved is in on the joke, the alternative being that the TikTok teenagers Fielder has recruited for his “alternate revenue stream” have actually accidentally joined his NXIVM-style starter cult. (Or maybe it’s more like an—alleged—R. Kelly thing, given the cut-off from parental contact and vigorous calorie counting?) But since that would make Fielder an actual psychopath, and not just a pretend TV one, we’re going to self-comfort by assuring ourselves that these young recruits for the “children’s dancing app” are not, in fact, being kept against their will, and possibly at gunpoint. (The gun is a great bit of understated escalation, though.) (Also, we know it’s not real, don’t yell at us.) 

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To some extent, the clip feels like a more subtle-than-expected plug for Wilson’s show, in that, like many of his segments, it goes to places you really couldn’t have expected from the opening moments—while also poking fun at Fielder’s “producer” persona, and the series’ own hard-to-explain appeal. Certainly, we’ll never think about bread, trampolines, or ring lights ever again.