John from Cincinnati TV Poster Image

John from Cincinnati

Mystical HBO surfing drama is awash in profanity.
  • Network: HBO
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Characters are a mixed bag, from angry, drug-addicted bad influences to an angelic, peaceful man-child. In general, people are more dysfunctional than they are evil.


Lots of angry verbal encounters, some fistfights, references to sexual abuse. In one scene, a man puts a gun into his mouth to kill himself, though he doesn't follow through.


Mention of sex and euphemistic references to masturbation. At least one post-coital scene with a married couple in bed together, presumably naked.


Nonstop uncensored, extreme profanity. "F--k" is almost every other word in some scenes and is frequently joined by "s--t" and "ass." Some derogatory terms are also used (like "fruit" to refer to gay man).


Occasional product placement for Blackberry and other brands like Aramark.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One character is a heroin addict, and characters discuss his addiction frequently. Some drug paraphernalia appears, though no scenes of shooting up. Talk of smoking pot and drinking.

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.

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

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.

Families can talk 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?

TV details

Premiere date:June 10, 2007
Cast:Austin Nichols, Bruce Greenwood, Rebecca DeMornay
TV rating:TV-MA
Available on:DVD

This review of John from Cincinnati was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Deadwood TV Poster Image
    Vivid Old West drama is way too gritty for kids.
  • Huff TV Poster Image
    Edgy, smart drama with stellar cast; adults only.
  • Lords of Dogtown Movie Poster Image
    Portrait of Venice, CA, '70s teen skater culture.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written bymkleess April 9, 2008

What was HBO thinking?

This is possibly one of the worst shows I have ever seen on TV. And it was on HBO...I would have expected more. It always makes me wonder about writers who put the "F" word into almost every sentence. Terrible acting; terrible plot. ICK!