“How To,” which returns on Friday, is like that. Each half-hour-ish episode begins with the nubbin of a premise, usually about some indignity of city life. (“Hey, New York!” Wilson begins, before ruminating on how hard it is to make friends, or find a parking spot, or stay in shape.) Then they spiral out, into the city streets and beyond into America, finding odd people with odd stories and obsessions. Ultimately, they arrive at what they’re really about: self-esteem, regret, community, mortality.

We rarely see Wilson on camera, but his nerdy, dryly funny second-person monologue is a constant presence. (Feeling out of place on a visit to his old college campus, he says, “You felt like an old ghost.”) But just as important is his eye. Wilson is a hoarder of images. He and his camera crews have collected a vast video library of mundane and weird city sights: A man dancing atop a moving subway, squirrels lying on a fence, a doorway with the scrawled message “BEST SIGN We Are Open.”

He delights in juxtaposing his monologue with the perfect visual. As he discusses getting a deep ear cleaning in a segment on hygiene, he remarks, “There’s no telling what might be inside,” and we see footage of firefighters prying open a sidewalk grate, reaching in, and pulling out a relieved man in a “BROOKLYN” hat.

The how-to of “How To” is never as simple as you would think. You could call the show a spoof of instructional videos, and I suppose technically it is, but there’s a philosophy behind the show’s formula. When you try to fix one problem, you often encounter another one, and this leads to another one, and eventually you burrow down to the real problem, the boss problem, which is often something intractable in the world, or yourself, that you somehow have to accept.



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