A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this pay-cable drama from the creator of Deadwood is filled with an almost-nonstop stream of profanity (particularly "f--k"). One main character is a mean, unapologetic junkie, and some scenes include brief glimpses of his drug paraphernalia, as well as lots of talk about getting high. Other scenes include open talk of sex and some post-coital moments, as well as euphemistic references to masturbation. In one scene, a gay character tearfully (if vaguely) recalls an incident of sexual abuse and a subsequent suicidal gesture. This character is later referred to as a "fruit" by another main character. There's some violence, but nothing on the level of other HBO dramas like The Sopranos.
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What's the story?
Set in Southern California's Imperial Beach, this comedic drama follows three generations of the Yost surfing family. The eldest Yost, Mitch (Bruce Greenwood), runs a surf shop with his tense, bitter wife, Cissy (Rebecca DeMornay). His son, Butchie (Brian Van Holt), is a former surf star turned foul-mouthed junkie living out of a motel room. And the youngest Yost, Shaun (Grayson Fletcher), is an innocent surfing prodigy with a mystical gift trying to enjoy the waves without getting dragged down by family drama. Enter the titular John (Austin Nichols), a possible alien -- the E.T. kind, though, in a clever play on words, a character mistakes him for an illegal immigrant -- who's essentially a blank page. He arrives with two phrases: "The end is near" and "some things I know and some things I don't." John's arrival also marks the beginning of some mystical, magical occurrences -- like the random moments of levitation that Mitch experiences.
Is it any good?
JOHN FROM CINCINATTI feels like a disjointed downer with way too much profanity and drug use for even most teenagers. Perhaps John's growing vocabulary ("I'm gonna roll myself a fattie!") will eventually develop into something more meaningful than comic; his relationship with Shaun also has some potential for depth. Meanwhile, the stellar, quirky supporting cast (including Luis Guzman, Ed O'Neill, and Willie Garson) poises the show for greatness ... but with mostly awkward, bitter characters.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about this show as an "HBO series." What does it have in common with shows like The Sopranos and Deadwood? How is it different? Do you think a show like this -- in any form -- could succeed on network TV or basic cable? Why or why not? Families can also discuss John. Who do you think he is? What's his purpose in the show and to the Yost family? Can you think of other shows or films with characters similar to John?