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Series / John from Cincinnati

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"At best, John From Cincinnati’s Jean-Luc Godard-like working methods lend the show an exhilarating spontaneity and sense of possibility. It’s quite literally a show where anything can happen. At worst, it feels clumsily put-together on the spot by actors groping to comprehend a master plan even a super-genius like [David] Milch doesn’t seem to understand."

John from Cincinnati is a drama, set against the surfing community of Imperial Beach, California, that aired on HBO from June 10 to August 12, 2007. It is the result of a collaborative effort between writer/producer David Milch and author Kem Nunn, whose novels have been termed surf noir.

The program deals with John Monad, a strange young man of mysterious origin, and the effect he has on a dysfunctional family of professional surfers and their community.

It was cancelled after one season.


Tropes from Cincinnati:

  • Ambiguous Disorder: John seems to be challenged or autistic in some way, but of course it's hard to tell since he probably isn't human...
  • Arc Words: "The End Is Near".
  • Arc Symbol: The stick figure.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Yosts.
  • Catchphrase: "Some things I know, some things I don't," replaced by, "I don't know. Butchie instead."
  • Fantastic Noir: Fantastic Surf Noir.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The title of the show John From Cincinnati is abbreviated as JFC or Jesus Fucking Christ
  • Genre-Busting: The show is by turns a family drama, surf noir, and religious allegory.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The episodes are titled "His Visit, Day One", "His Visit, Day Two", etc. It breaks the pattern with the third episode, which is "Day Two Continued"; the 10th and final episode is "Day Nine".
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  • Magical Realism/Urban Fantasy: The film takes place mostly in the "real world," but with supernatural elements, such as spontaneous levitation and John's seemingly magical powers.
  • Messianic Archetype: John.
  • Mind Screw
  • No Ending: The show was canceled without any resolution.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: As with Milch's other works, characters speak in dense, almost impenetrable language, which worked in a period piece like Deadwood, but seems strange coming from a bunch of modern surfers.
  • Speaks in Shout-Outs: John communicates almost entirely by repeating phrases that other characters had already said.
  • Surfer Dude: Naturally, given the setting.
  • Trouser Space: John's pockets seem to contain whatever small item he needs at the moment without ever being refilled.
  • Weirdness Magnet: The Yost family, Lampshaded more than once.


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