Genius: Aretha

Genius: Aretha

Poster for Genius: Aretha

In this third season of National Geographic's Genius series, Oscar-nominee Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) is the great Aretha Franklin with Golden Globe-nominee Courtney B Vance as CL Franklin.

2021USANational Geographic
DramaMusicTrue Story & BiographyHistorical




Desperate for a hit, Aretha travels to Muscle Shoals in... More 1967 to record her first album with Atlantic Records. After suffering the loss of her surrogate mother, Little Re braves her first solo in 1953, in her father’s, C.L. Franklin, church.


Until the Real Thing Comes Along

Struggling to find her sound, Aretha catches the attention of... More Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records in 1966. Meanwhile, Little Re has her first touring experience on the Gospel Circuit in 1954 with C.L. Franklin and meets her idol, Clara Ward.


Do Right Woman

Aretha juggles her music career and her commitment to the... More civil rights movement, led by Martin Luther King Jr., in 1967 and 1968. Meanwhile, Little Re leaves behind her newborn child to return to the Gospel Circuit in 1955, meeting with music legends James Cleveland and Little Sammie Bryant.



Aretha is featured on the cover of Time Magazine in... More 1968, but she’s devastated when the article focuses on the scandalous details of her personal life. Barbara Franklin and Young C.L. Franklin struggle to establish themselves in Memphis in 1941, before Little Re is born.


Young, Gifted and Black

Aretha, inspired by Angela Davis and the Soledad Brothers, records... More her protest album “Young, Gifted and Black” in 1970. Despite Jerry Wexler’s uncertainty, the album is a success. Barbara Franklin makes a decision that has a devastating effect on Little Re in 1951.


Amazing Grace

Aretha records her best-selling live Gospel album “Amazing Grace” in... More 1972 at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church, ignoring her sibling’s pleas to record instead at New Bethel with their father, C.L. Franklin.


Chain of Fools

As the Queen of Soul enters the age of disco,... More Aretha will do anything to remain relevant—including stealing an opportunity from her sister Carolyn. She receives a GRAMMY nomination but is ultimately snubbed from winning the award.


No One Sleeps

Despite significant emotional losses, including a second divorce and the... More death of her father in 1984, Aretha pushes herself artistically and triumphs.

Genius: Aretha | Reviews



A fairly predictable biopic, anchored - and lifted - by the increasingly brilliant Erivo and the always reliable Vance.

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Come for Erivo's lovely rendition of Franklin and the intimate details in her life; stay for the rapturous musical goodness that follows.

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Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone

Although you won't see it in a theater but on a network known more for nature docs, the series demands its own, yes, respect.

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Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter

Aretha shows us that the performer and the person were two very different sides of the legend. We all know the former. The latter remains too much a mystery.

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Genius: Aretha | Release Details

Genius: Aretha is available to stream in New Zealand now on Disney+.