Aretha Franklin should be happy about the ratings, if not the content of “Genius” mini series on Nat Geo.
“Genius Aretha” scored a whopping 1.38 million on Sunday night in two consecutive hours. Nat Geo’s Genius Einstein series hit that same number only once, when it debuted four years ago. The subsequent “Genius” series, about Pablo Picasso, did a fraction of those numbers, even with Antonio Banderas as the artist.
“Genius Aretha” continues tonight and tomorrow night at 9pm for two hours each. The show is strong on performances from stars Cynthia Erivo and Courtney B. Vance, but light on facts and an accurate depiction of just about everyone in it. Aretha’s family is protesting the series, and with good reason. Their family history and their famous aunt’s life are not exactly on target.
But that works both ways. Sadly, Reverend CL Franklin and Aretha’s husband, Ted White, were worse in real life than their on screen characterizations. But Aretha herself, and her sisters, were a lot better.
Insiders are also aghast the depiction of Aretha’s long time manager, Ruth Bowen, as a hefty woman. She was far from it. The real Ruth Bowen was such a powerhouse, but she was physically on the small side, trim, and very pretty. Ruth can’t be happy about the way she looks in this movie. I’m sure she and Aretha are in deep talks in heaven.
Still, it’s a tribute to Aretha and to Erivo that the series did so well on Sunday night. We’ll see tomorrow if the audience stayed.