Parents' Guide to

Painting with John

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Language, drug anecdotes in charmingly weird reality show.

TV HBO Reality TV 2021
Painting with John Poster Image

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As idiosyncratic and peculiarly amusing as its host, this odd artifact combines a painting show with a monologuist's ramble, to mostly entertaining results. The peak of John Lurie's unusual fame was the 1980s, when his turns in beloved movies like Stranger than Paradise and Down by Law made him a poster boy for the indie movie scene; he went on to lead avant-garde jazz ensemble the Lounge Lizards for decades, as well as to make the sublimely strange 1991 Bravo series Fishing with John, with surreal commentary and conversations over footage of Lurie out fishing with Hollywood friends like Dennis Hopper and Willem Dafoe. Painting with John is similar to, but not the same as, Lurie's earlier TV foray, because, as it turns out, watching someone create intricate watercolor paintings is a lot more interesting than watching guys with a line in a boat, and because Lurie has matured into an even more entertainingly weird guy since 1991.

He describes how his parents nurtured their children's creativity with an anecdote about his brother ruining an important employment connection by picking up the phone in the character of Mighty Mouse; he relates tales of former cocaine binges; he watches a sunset; he crashes a drone; he dips his brush into paint and lets it bleed down onto his canvas, saying "I just want people to know that none of my trees are happy. They're miserable." He talks about the different laughs he's heard, in Thailand, in Africa, in New York. It's all sort of slow and meandering, but beguiling all the same. Here is a man who has led an exceedingly interesting life, who regrets very little, and who spends most of his time creating: paintings, and now a TV show. What will he bring up next? You'll want to know, and we do, too.

TV Details

  • Premiere date: January 22, 2021
  • Cast: John Lurie
  • Network: HBO
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-MA
  • Last updated: March 10, 2023

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