Wilson, the show’s creator and narrator, walks around New York City with a video camera to capture various peculiar moments he encounters.
With hours of footage, he weaves a narrative centered around a general “how-to” topic, though the storytelling often verves wildly before coming back to the topic at hand. For example, an episode on how to make the perfect risotto for his landlord ends up involving skiing, a helicopter ride, and the start of the 2020 lockdown.
The third and final season of his critically acclaimed show recently released its first episode, and of course, the topic was…quite Poopable.
“The relationship you have with your toilet is unlike any other object in your home.”
So starts Season 3, Episode 1 of How to with John Wilson, How to Find a Public Restroom.
While we know the joys of our own bathroom experiences, we also have firsthand knowledge of public instances where, as Wilson says, “Desperate measures to relieve your pain.”
In Wilson’s journey for a bathroom, he found a lot of…interesting options, with various degrees of Poopability.
All in all, Wilson ends up using the facilities at-
- A porta-potty precariously positioned on a bridge
- A public toilet with no stall doors (though he hung up a blanket to give him privacy)
- A well-maintained public bathroom where the staff pays to put up festive decorations (the worker interviewed there claims that one of the aspirational signs there prevented a potential suicide)
- One of five self-cleaning restrooms (distributed among the five boroughs) that was installed in 2008. It costs 25 cents to enter, with a 15 minute time limit. (Wilson decided to sit on the sink to trick the bathroom into thinking it was gone so he could film what the automatic self-cleaning looked like. It’s…torrential).
- A business website that requires a code after purchase (he dug through the trash and found a code from a receipt).
- Hudson Yards – a harrowing journey that ended with Wilson being yelled at by the police for filming.
- A apartment currently for sale (the toilet lid was broken).
- A party bus sending a group of 20-somethings to see Odesza.
- A masonic temple.
- A truck heading to Burning Man.
- A porta-potty at Burning Man.
- A Las Vegas hotel room.
- A bathroom in a bunker that was designed to be used by Congress in case of a nuclear holocaust.
During the episode, Wilson delves into the history of public bathrooms in New York City. There are 8 million residents in New York, and 60 million tourists annually, yet New York only has 1,000 public toilets, and two that are open at all hours.
As we’ve previously mentioned, many American cities are woefully inept at providing free, public ways to relieve yourself. New York, while making our list as a Poopable city, used to be much more amenable to nature’s callings.
As Wilson explains, every park and subway used to offer free bathrooms. But starting in the 70s, due to funding, these were no longer maintained, a fact punctuated by footage of numerous useable bathrooms made inaccessible via padlocks.
His journey takes him to a tour of with the sewer system, where he interviews various sanitation workers, who confirm that they could handle more public bathrooms while also confirming that society would likely collapse if the sewer system stopped working.
It’s not only essential to the pooper to live in a Poopable area, it’s essential for society.
Wilson continues to look for bathrooms, finding IKEA toilets that are bolted shut, and water bottles filled with urine.
Afterwards, Wilson visits a neighborhood called “The Hole” which exists below sea level, which results in sewage seeping up into the streets. Residents have found a…unique way to combat that. Specifically by taking care of business in plastic bags and leaving them in a designated area off the street for the garbage collectors to take care of.
Easily one of the least Poopable situations we’ve encountered yet.
After rendering his toilet un-useable (from clogging it with poop from his cat litter box) Wilson looks for places to use non-private bathrooms. He befriends a group to join their party bus to a concert, then meets a woman heading to Burning Man.
There, he spent a week filming only to be told none of his footage could be used, since Burning Man had given exclusive filming rights to the creators of The Vow (another MAX property).
So naturally, he ends up in Central West Texas, talking to the owner of Stinky Steve’s, who installs septic tanks and is planning on moving to a former missile silo that has been refurbished as a living space. (Again, this show prides itself in its unpredictability).
This leads Wilson to a hotel that features a bunker in Washington D.C. that was built to house the Legislative Branch during an emergency.
In the end Wilson collects dozens of bottles of water bottles filled with pee and uses them to construct a sculpture outside of the Hudson Yards in protest of them kicking him out for filming there.
There is a lot to take away from this episode, but mostly it leaves us realizing that sometimes it’s hard to find somewhere that is Poopable…but if we try hard enough, there are always options for any of us.