Disney is releasing the third season of National Geographic’s live-action drama series “Genius” onto Disney+ in the United Kingdom and Ireland throughout June. The third season tells the story of the “Queen Of Soul” singer “Aretha Franklin”, who is played by Cynthia Erivo. If you haven’t seen the first two seasons of “Genius”, which were recently added to Disney+, don’t worry, each season is its own unique story as the first focused on Albert Einstein and the second on Picasso.
The first couple of episodes flip between Aretha’s childhood and her time trying to break through as a major professional singer.
In her early years, we get to see Aretha being brought up by her father, who is a Baptist minister with a travelling church and is played by Courtney B. Vance. This is where she gets to experience performing in front of crowds for the first time and learns the skills she will need later in her life. These scenes show her innocence, but more importantly, show how her father behaved behind closed doors. This party lifestyle ultimately saw Aretha get pregnant when she was only 12 years old, and these two episodes show the build-up to that tragic event. Her father deals with the problem of her having a child so young and makes sure it isn’t going to stop her from becoming a superstar.
Meanwhile, showcasing her rise to the “Queen Of Soul” when she is older, we get to see her in action, singing some fantastic songs and showcasing her talents. At the same time, her first husband tries to manage her career, with some side hustle of pimping on the side to keep the bills paid. While we never see the events of her domestic abuse, we see the aftermath and the pain it causes her.
Her career is just floundering under her husband’s management, never fully being able to step up to the next level because he isn’t equipped to deal with what she needs. Plus, he has a jealous streak that is highlighted in one important scene with her recording songs with a band.
The first two episodes of “Genius: Aretha” are hard-hitting, with some serious undertones covering racism, domestic abuse, underage sex, adultery and much more. It’s a fascinating story, and I can’t wait to watch the rest of the series.
It’s an extremely well-made drama series and has some powerful performances, especially Cynthia Erivo, who shows some incredible talent, especially with some of the complex themes within these first two episodes.
Rating – 4.5 out of 5.
The first two episodes of “Genius: Aretha” will arrive on Disney+ on Friday 4th June, with two new episodes dropping each Friday afterwards.