Brian Hieggelke

John's Gone Back to Cincinnati

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I just watched the season and, it turns out, series finale of HBO’s latest Milchsterpiece, “John From Cincinnati.” I was baffled by the show, yet drawn to it, for its cast of cosmic cornballs, for its intricate language, with a mix of Mamet-like rhythm and Shakespearean constructions. And it teased like no other series, setting out its enigmatic premise early, just accessible enough to bring you back to learn more, only to find yourself increasingly baffled with each episode. Exposition obscured, not clarified. But as I watched the last episode, I found myself in search of “the explanation,” the layers of meaning, references and other devices surely present for those who studied it, who conversed about it, more diligently than I had. Memories of my once-obsessive fascination with “Twin Peaks” floated by, but I hate to say that I found that David’s work (at least season one) far more accessible than this David’s work. I still seek that understanding. My brief search found this rather heated discussion.

Clearly the show was polarizing. Unfortunately, the staunchest defenders did not decode, but simply seemed drunk on the Kool-Aid, accusing the detractors of “not getting it,” without explaining what they did not get. You don’t see the emperor’s new clothes? In the end, I was a frustrated fan, one who could not resist the characters, the language and the weekly trainwreck. And I’m still looking for answers.

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