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Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Netflix Picks: Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal and Greed

Does anyone remember Bob Ross? He was this painter who was on TV who would make these works of art during his TV show called The Joy of Painting during the 80s and early 90s. I don’t remember when I was able to watch his show exactly, I just know that I got to see the show on one of the local TV channels when I was younger, probably in grade school. It was fascinating to watch him paint and he made it all seem so easy. I think that it was because of this show that when I was in high school I decided to choose art as an elective so I could learn more about making art myself. 



One thing that surprised me when I learned about the Netflix show Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal and Greed was that the guy was already dead and had been dead since 1995. For someone as famous as he seemed to be, I was shocked that I never even heard that he passed away until I saw this documentary. Watching the film was an eye-opener to the life of this man and the sad end of his story. 

The documentary told the story of how Bob Ross got started with painting and how he became the famous painter on TV that he became. Most of the story was based on interviews made with people he had worked with, along with his son. They told the story of how Bob Ross was really all about the joy and love for painting and about sharing his gift with everyone. He really wanted everyone to be able to paint. Unfortunately, as the documentary shared, the people he partnered with to achieve this dream had different goals in mind.

According to the people that were interviewed, the couple who had partnered with Bob Ross were in it not for the love of the art, but for the money. So much so that in the end, they ended up using his name and likeness to sell their products and sued anyone who got in their way. 

It was so sad to find out that in their attempt to keep making money out of Bob Ross’ name they intentionally made his death and funeral private so that people did not know he was dead. They did not even invite some of his closest friends. Another revelation was that when he was near death, Bob Ross was being made to sign his rights away to his partners but he wanted to save it for his son. Sadly, they ended up getting it after his death anyway. Can you imagine how much it probably hurt his son that he had no right to his father’s legacy? A legacy that he had worked alongside with himself? That was harsh!

To be fair, the couple in question were not interviewed for the documentary, so they were not able to give their side of the story. But still, any viewer would have to admit that what was said and the people who said it would make you think twice about believing whatever they would have to say to defend themselves. Given how quick they were about suing people and taking advantage of other artists, it was a given that the documentary would make any viewer have suspicions about their intentions. It was definitely not about the art for them. It was not for the love of painting. It was all about the money which – newsflash – you cannot take with you when you pass away. 

I feel that watching the documentary gave me a sad ending to that happy childhood memory I had of the man with the afro who loved painting landscapes on TV. The man who said that anyone can paint, who said that “happy accidents” in works of art can be painted over and made into something new. It’s so sad that how his life turned out, and how this accident of how sad the end of his life had become was painted over by something that was not good or happy. 

The documentary was a little depressing. I felt that no matter how much of the story was told, there would never be a solution to it. They could only say what needed to be said but what’s done is done. Bob Ross is gone, his legacy doesn’t even live in with his own family. Such a sad ending to what could have been a beautiful life story. 


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