Home / World News / John Wilson, the Genius Behind the Weirdest Show on TV

John Wilson, the Genius Behind the Weirdest Show on TV

The people he focuses on do trend toward those typically neglected by television. They’re middle-aged with brusque local accents or wealthy but not in a worldly way; they have some kind of sales patter or nutty theory you’d normally tune out; they’re nerdy or goony or oversharers. Sometimes they aren’t trying to meet the expectations of televisibility; sometimes they’re trying too hard, and the effort is coming out lopsided. Sometimes they’re absurdly televisable, as with one Vivian Koenig, a no-nonsense older woman seen giving her husband a theatrical “can’t you see I’m busy” gesture that puts America’s top comics to shame. If TV works like pop music, seeing these humans on it is as recklessly thrilling as seeing Harry Styles pluck a random dad from an arena crowd and hand him a microphone.

It must be exciting, I told Wilson, when amid the countless conversations he records, he realizes he’s stumbled across a real live one.

“Do you not feel that,” he asked, “when you talk to someone that is slowly revealing a cascading story to you, or they don’t always realize how interesting it is?”

Most of us, I said, are busy, and cautious, and when a stranger starts opening up about, say, their anti-circumcision concept album, we politely vanish.

“I do that, too, sometimes,” Wilson said, “when I don’t have the time or the camera.” But when he’s seeking this stuff out, “you can tell immediately if someone wants to be recorded or not. And in that moment, when they give you an inch and you continue talking to them, and you raise the camera a little higher, a little higher, you begin to realize that oh, my God, so many people have a story.” Often, he told me, he would film someone for an entire day before they even asked what it was for; they just wanted to be recorded.

Holding the camera himself, he says, “changes the energy of the room.” Part of Wilson’s charm is that he almost never lets this energy provoke a cringe, except at his own expense. That reversal is the point of astonishment in “How To Cover Furniture,” a rumination on how we try to protect things from harm. At its climax, an interior designer answers Wilson’s questions with a friendly evisceration of his whole vibe: His camera, she says, is a protective mechanism, which he uses to connect with people from behind a barrier. She looks into its lens and offers advice that feels both kind and situationally hostile: “I would love for you, sometimes in your life, in your head, to be like, ‘I should put the camera down in this situation. I should just be John.’”

About brandsauthority

Check Also

Cotton’s 40 points leads Perth past Hawks

It took a Herculean effort and a season-high points haul from Bryce Cotton as Perth …

%d bloggers like this: