• Network: HBO
  • Series Premiere Date: Jun 10, 2007

Mixed or average reviews - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 24
  2. Negative: 7 out of 24

Where To Watch

Stream On

Critic Reviews

  1. 100
    As profane as "Deadwood" and as profound as "The Sopranos," the series strikes every right chord.
  2. The ceaseless ways in which Milch and Nunn challenge our expectations about how families, friends, and strangers are meant to convey their fealty to each other, along with some fine hard-boiled dialogue and fisticuffs, suggest great continuing pleasures.
  3. 70
    Mesmerizing and entertainingly confounding.
  4. Reviewed by: Diane Werts
    Ultimately, viewers just have to work a lot harder to fathom John from Cincinnati than Tony from Jersey.
  5. I found enough mesmerizing moments, bits of character and sharp Milch dialogue in the opening episodes that I'll probably stick around to catch a few more waves.
  6. Sometimes "John From Cincinnati" is a muddle, at other times rich drama and divine comedy. And sometimes it's all of that at once.
  7. Three episodes in, I started to buy into the world Milch has created. I don't understand it, I don't think I even really like it (almost all of the characters are damaged and rather unpleasant), but I am intrigued by it.
  8. The premiere episode is almost willfully strange and unlikable. But that doesn’t mean that the series is bad, just peculiar, a solemn mythologization — and mystification — of surfing as unearthly pleasure and life-sapping addiction.
  9. 50
    It's only June,? but I can confidently state that you won’t see a weirder show than "John From Cincinnati" all year long.
  10. Intriguing but not entirely satisfying.
  11. I'll be patient, out of respect to Milch and Tinker, but I don't expect you to be.
  12. It's an odd little show, often more David Lynch than David Milch, and after three episodes I'm still not sure I understand it all.
  13. 50
    Too little of it even attempts to make a lick of sense. Still, the cast is first-rate, and Milch himself is a singular talent. I can't write off a show like that, but I can't exactly advise you to watch it, either.
  14. 40
    The first three episodes of this peculiar series bored me silly with its pretentious mannerisms, and I can't help thinking that many HBO subscribers will tune in and wonder: They dropped Deadwood for this?
  15. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    "John From Cincinnati" might be the strangest show ever produced for American television.
  16. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    Its visuals are gorgeous and its mystical glimpses tantalizing, but its transcendence is more asserted than earned. We sinful mortals still want prosaic things like a story.
  17. People Weekly
    Reviewed by: Tom Gliatto
    The tone of the first three episodes is grubby yet also precious. [11 Jun 2007, p.41]
  18. The only thing a person can be certain of after watching "John From Cincinnati" is this: Any die-hard "Deadwood" fan interested in keeping the veins in his forehead intact should not bother with it.
  19. 20
    A pretentious and talky botch, John From Cincinnati won't fill the void left by The Sopranos.
  20. In the three episodes HBO made available to reviewers, however, the only moment of transcendence for the viewer occurs when some of the characters take to the sea on their boards and ride the waves in an "Endless Summer" moment that comes as a blessed relief after the inexplicable chaos of what precedes it -- and is over too soon.
  21. A truly baffling series about surfing, screwed-up families and miracles.
  22. 20
    This show needs a miracle even more than the damaged inhabitants of Imperial Beach do.
  23. 10
    Watching HBO's surfing drama "John From Cincinnati" is like sitting through a bad play at a tiny experimental theater.... In short, if Gary Busey were a TV series, he would be "John From Cincinnati."
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 254 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 57 out of 254
  1. Jan 25, 2012
    No description of this series makes it sound at all appealing. In fact, despite my enthusiasm for surfing, Zen, and Garrett Dillahunt, INo description of this series makes it sound at all appealing. In fact, despite my enthusiasm for surfing, Zen, and Garrett Dillahunt, I didn't watch it until last year, not just because of the bad reviews, but because even the good ones made "John from Cincinnati" sound about as alluring as listening to Cyndi Lauper read the Manhattan Phone Directory through a bullhorn while Dick Cheney cleaned my teeth with a hunting rifle. And I'm not the only viewer the series failed to attract. Recently, I read that less than a quarter of the audience who watched the finale of "The Sopranos" stuck around to check out "John." In other words, the show never had a chance. And that was a shame of the first order, because "John" turns out to be one of the most original, profound, and moving series I've ever seen. Not only is there nothing like it, there's nothing even close enough to allow a cautious, qualified comparison--a descriptive comparison, that is. Even a non-descriptive comparison is hard. I could think for hours and then finally stammer, "John from Cincinnati" is to "Deadwood" as "The Tempest" is to "1 Henry IV," but,despite struggling to find the most apt analogy possible, all I have done is tell you "It's really different" and "It's really good." So, though I normally condemn unsubstantiated value judgments, I think it's essential to make one here, because anything I could say is as likely to make you shun "John from Cincinnati" as to make you want to watch it. If you think I'm just being lazy, look at some of my other reviews; all I'm trying to avoid is turning another potential viewer OFF. I will qualify my approbation a bit, however. "John" is not a show for fools, nor for people who just want to power down their brains after work and settle into a stupor. I'm not saying that the series requires effort to watch--it doesn't--but it will stimulate brains that are not already dead, and the questions it will raise are exciting. So viewers who mind being stimulated, mentally, should probably choose another series. "John" is also not a show for rigid people. If, for you, rules and categories and formulae are ends in themselves (rather than means of achieving certain ends), you will not like this series, as it consistently breaks generic and other boundaries. If characters must adhere to familiar types; if, for you, mothers must be nurturing and children lovable and junkies loathsome and surfers moronic and avatars eloquent, then, no, you will not like this series. If, however, you have an open, active mind and your sympathies extend to people unlike yourself and you've occasionally asked a question or two about what it might mean to be human and, most importantly, you really enjoy seeing something you've never seen before, especially if it's beautiful, then check out "John from Cincinnati." I have a feeling that your great-great grandchildren will be proud to tell their friends that you were among the very few who realized way back in 2012 that this series was a classic. Full Review »
  2. LisaB
    Sep 4, 2007
    I loved it and so did all my friends. It draws you to think which is uncomfortable for people who like things in a nice neat box.
  3. BarryT
    Aug 26, 2007
    10++++ I LOVE thisshow! Quirky, strange, mesmerizing, with the richest cast of characters, wonderful subplots--and the big question. I 10++++ I LOVE thisshow! Quirky, strange, mesmerizing, with the richest cast of characters, wonderful subplots--and the big question. I couldn't wait until the next show, then the next season. I watched each episode on On Demand at least twice to pick up all the subtleties. Now I just found out HBO cancelled it. HBO, PLEASE reconsider! Please put John fro Cincinnati back on the air. Full Review »