“Genius: Aretha” Review: Cynthia Erivo Transforms Into the Queen of Soul

Photo Courtesy: National Geographic

You’ve seen two-time Academy Award nominee Cynthia Erivo before. She’s played Harriet Tubman in Harriet, she was in Steve McQueen’s Widows and she portrayed a very perceptive detective in the HBO miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s The Outsider. Yet you won’t recognize Erivo in Genius: Aretha.

The Tony, Grammy and Emmy award winner completely transforms herself into the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, in the eight-episode National Geographic anthology series. Genius: Aretha is the third season of this TV show about historical figures; the first season was dedicated to physicist Albert Einstein and the second to painter Pablo Picasso.

The first two episodes of Aretha will premiere on National Geographic on Sunday, March 21, and the episodes will be available the next day on Hulu. The whole season will be released in double episodes over four consecutive nights. It’ll be ready to binge in its completion on Hulu on March 25.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog), who this year also wrote the screenplay for the other musical biopic The United States vs. Billie Holiday, serves as showrunner and executive producer.