Bob Ross’ large hair, calming presence, and soothing voice is helping a new generation deal with the anxieties bubbling up due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Though the last live episode of “The Joy of Painting” aired in 1994, the show has seen a spike in popularity after being picked up by streaming service Tubi. Episodes are also available on Youtube.
Joan Kowalski, president of Bob Ross Inc., told ABC Audio that previously, episodes aired on Twitch TV, which catered to a much younger audience who was discovering Ross for the first time.
"It started about five years ago when there was an eight-day marathon on Twitch TV which brought out all the millennials ... Generation X, Y and Zs," Kowalski explained.
Of course, another wave of popularity came alongside the pandemic as people began looking for new programming to watch.
"And then with the pandemic, we've gotten another surge with people staying at home and they remember how much they want to have Bob in their lives -- and they're painting, too!"
Kowalski said that Ross’ ability to whip up a masterpiece with ease is inspiring others to find their inner-Picasso.
"They are watching like crazy and they're starting to paint because it's a thing you can do by yourself," Kowalski added. "And just Bob's whole disposition, his whole personality, of course, obviously is just perfect. People are ... stressed out, and they're trying to figure out what to do while they're home. And that's just a recipe for Bob Ross right there."
The younger generation loves Ross so much that he’s inspired a collection of merch. Kowalski said Ross would’ve been eating it up.
"He always sort of liked that whole concept when he was alive," he said, adding, "[I]t's probably the one thing that he would have really loved a lot ... the merchandise and everything. Any collectible you want, there is a Bob Ross one, too, and it's taking off like crazy."
So, go ahead and turn on an episode to find some painting inspiration or to drift away into a serene bliss.