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‘John From Cincinnati’: The Problem With Cass

Emily Rose in John From Cincinnati.Courtesy of HBO

In our John From Cincinnati daydreams, the show is a perfectly calibrated mix of memorable characters engaging in entertainingly streetwise banter to express their thoughts about the supernatural events complicating an epic family drama. But all the streetwise banter in the world is just gravy without that family drama, and to that end we’re annoyed by the increasing importance of the character Cass, played by Emily Rose. Cass is the pretty girl employed to distract stick-in-the-mud Mitch Yost while Evil Luke Perry swoops in to exploit his surfin' star grandson. She featured centrally in the last episode — seducing Mitch, feeling bad about it, developing protective feelings for John, and sending Mitch crawling back to his wife.

The problem is that Cass is a dull, unalluring, and generally improbable seductress.

And when a hot 26-year-old blonde isn't convincing as an object of desire, it doesn't bode well for her ability to convey a spiritually motivated change of heart, which is what she was asked to do in the second half of last night's episode, to predictably blank-faced effect. Everything she touched turned into a question: Why would complicated-seeming deep thinker Mitch bother with someone so boring? Why would alleged smooth operator Linc trust someone so incompetent? Why would mankind savior John spend his time on someone so banal? It made the central plot seem arbitrary and uncompelling. And without believable central characters to act as straight men, all the comically ornate dialogue coming from the mouths of fringe characters is just non-sequitorial flotsam, rather than the stuff of dreams.

In more positive Emily Rose developments, we were having a competition with a friend this weekend to come up with the most hilariously literal title for a hypothetical summer blockbuster. We thought we had a winner with Motorcycle Race (first line of the trailer: "In a world of motorcycle races…") However, it appears that Ms. Rose has trumped us by appearing in a non-hypothetical film — about kids throwing a party during a hurricane — that goes by the title of Hurricane Party. Kudos! —Ben Mathis-Lilley