Bob Ross, What Have You Done?

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Bob Ross, What Have You Done?

I wish I could tell you what Netflix's new documentary Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed was about, but I can't. The trailer for the doc is shockingly vague, featuring just a photo of a smiling Bob Ross with the message, "We want to show you the trailer for Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed, but we can't." So, what did Bob Ross do that is so horrible, Netflix can't even tease it?

Bob Ross has been a calm, soothing presence on public television and YouTube for decades, but everyone has a dark side. In Ross' case, it sounds like his dark side will have something to do with "the shockingly untold story" of how Ross rose to prominence. "Beyond the iconic hair, soothing voice, and nostalgic paintings lies a mystery that many have yet to discover," reads the official description. Hmmm... Looking at the photos from the official press site, it looks like Bob Ross: Accidents, Betrayal & Greed) will include interviews with his son Steve Ross, who has carried on the family legacy, and his friend, Dana Jester, who frequently appeared on The Joy of Painting.

None of this info really tells us what Ross' "untold story" is, though. Did he murder someone for their collection of paintbrushes? Huff paint until the clouds started turning into big grey splotches across the canvas? The truth isn't nearly so sensational, but it is far more dramatic than you ever thought water coloring could be.

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Bob Ross feels like the kind of non-controversial celebrity everyone can agree on, but it turns out he had his fair share of haters. According to a 2020 article from, he even had his very own nemesis, Bill Alexander. Alexander was reportedly his early mentor in painting, the one who taught him the wet-on-wet technique he was famous for. He even had his own painting show on PBS, the Magic of Oil Painting, which ran from 1974-1982. Ross' own Joy of Painting show didn't premiere until 1983.

Ross and Alexander met in the 1970s, when Alexander became Ross's teacher and mentor. But, after success found them both, they drifted apart. "He betrayed me," Alexander told The New York Times in a 1991 profile. "I invented 'wet on wet.' I trained him and he is copying me — what bothers me is not just that he betrayed me, but that he thinks he can do it better." In the same profile, Ross admitted that Alexander was a "competitor," but refused to name him. Ouch.

I have to assume that this new Netflix trailer is alluding to Ross' alleged copying of Alexander and the demise of their relationship. Unless, he has another skeleton in his closet that's just waiting to come out...


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Image: Courtesy of Netflix

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