|Theme music composer||Hans Zimmer|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||28 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||43–62 minutes|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Original release||April 25, 2017 –|
Genius is an American anthology period drama television series developed by Noah Pink and Kenneth Biller which premiered on National Geographic. The first season, which aired between April and June 2017, followed the life of Albert Einstein, from his early years, through his time as a patent clerk, and into his later years as a physicist who developed the theory of relativity; the season is based on the 2007 book Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson. The second season, which aired between April and June 2018, followed the life and artistry of Pablo Picasso.
In April 2018, National Geographic renewed the series for a third season. The season was originally supposed to focus on Mary Shelley but this was moved to development to instead focus on Aretha Franklin. It aired in March 2021. In December 2020, the series was renewed for a fourth season, which is set to be released on Disney+ and will follow the life of Martin Luther King Jr..
The first season chronicles two periods in the life of Albert Einstein: the first as a patent clerk struggling to gain a teaching position and doctorate, the second as a scientist respected for his development of the theory of relativity.
The second season chronicles two periods in the life of Pablo Picasso: the first as a young man first discovering his talent, the second as a celebrated artist struggling with the rise of fascism and the price of fame.
The third season chronicles several periods in the life of Aretha Franklin: as a young gospel singer impregnated at the age of twelve, and as a rising star who was crowned the "Queen of Soul".
|First released||Last released||Network|
|1||Einstein||10||April 25, 2017||June 20, 2017||National Geographic|
|2||Picasso||10||April 24, 2018||June 19, 2018|
|3||Aretha||8||March 21, 2021||March 24, 2021|
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||U.S. viewers|
|1||1||"Chapter One"||Ron Howard||Story by : Noah Pink and Ken Biller|
Teleplay by : Noah Pink
|April 25, 2017||1.38|
|As Antisemitism reaches a fever pitch in 1930s Germany, physicist Albert Einstein finds himself forced to choose between emigrating to the United States or staying in solidarity with his fellow academics. The struggle evokes memories of his days as a student at Zürich Polytechnic and his first encounter with Mileva Marić, the woman who would become his first wife.|
|2||2||"Chapter Two"||Minkie Spiro||Angelina Burnett||May 2, 2017||1.05|
|After butting heads with Mileva Marić, the only female student in his class at Zürich Polytechnic, a young Albert Einstein falls in love with this determined fellow student. While the passionate affair fans the flames of their mutual curiosity and love of science, their reckless abandon doesn't go unnoticed by Einstein's strict physics lecturer, Professor Weber.|
|3||3||"Chapter Three"||Minkie Spiro||Mark Lafferty||May 9, 2017||1.02|
|As a recent university graduate, Albert Einstein struggles to make ends meet while trying to land an academic post in a scientific world rigid with tradition and protocol. After finally securing various tutoring jobs, he moves one step closer to being able to provide for his pregnant wife, Mileva, when tragedy strikes.|
|4||4||"Chapter Four"||Kevin Hooks||Noah Pink||May 16, 2017||0.93|
|While working at his day job at the Bern patent office, Albert Einstein burns the candle at both ends supported by his new wife, writing four new scientific papers including the theory of special relativity, in what will be considered his miracle year. One of his papers attracts the attention of the notable theoretical physicist Max Planck.|
|5||5||"Chapter Five"||Kevin Hooks||Raf Green||May 23, 2017||0.94|
|With new teaching duties, Albert Einstein finally begins to experience the academic life he long coveted as he develops his theory of general relativity. Enjoying his first taste of acclaim among the most renowned scientific minds in Europe including Marie Curie, Einstein falters in his familial responsibilities. His only relief comes from a visit to extended family, where he is introduced to his cousin Elsa.|
|6||6||"Chapter Six"||James Hawes||Brian Peterson||May 30, 2017||1.02|
|After moving his family to Berlin for work, and to be closer to his new love Elsa, Albert Einstein sets out to prove his theory of general relativity. He enlists the help of an astronomer to photograph a solar eclipse in Russia, but the expedition goes awry. Einstein's affair becomes less secret, and Elsa forces an ultimatum: divorce Mileva or lose her forever.|
|7||7||"Chapter Seven"||James Hawes||Kelly Souders||June 6, 2017||1.06|
|Exhausted and worn out, Albert Einstein's attempt to make scientific history is put to the test as he begins to experience health issues. Meanwhile, sweeping patriotism in the wake of the war has corrupted one of his closest friends, Fritz Haber, pitting them against each other. In the German war effort, Albert is the lone scientist to refuse the call to arms.|
|8||8||"Chapter Eight"||Ken Biller||Angelina Burnett & Francesca Butler||June 13, 2017||1.05|
|Attempting to flee to the United States, Albert Einstein and his wife Elsa find that their visas have been blocked for entry by the U.S. State Department because Einstein's politics placed him on the radar of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Just days before his departure, Einstein must convince the U.S Consul in Germany that he is no threat to the country.|
|9||9||"Chapter Nine"||Ken Biller||Ken Biller & Raf Green||June 20, 2017||1.04|
|Albert Einstein and Elsa settle into the U.S. while trying to save those he left behind. Although quantum physics continues to vex him, his focus is diverted by the splitting of the atom in Nazi Germany. When tragedy strikes, Einstein seeks comfort in the arms of a Russian woman whose intentions are unclear.|
|10||10||"Chapter Ten"||Ken Biller||Mark Lafferty||June 20, 2017||1.04|
|After the atomic bomb is dropped and World War II ends, Albert Einstein assumes the role of world citizen in his elder years. Having been linked to nuclear weapons, he drowns in guilt and refocuses his efforts to prevent further wars. Inspiration strikes when a young neighbor asks him for homework help, reminding him of the joy that science once brought.|
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||U.S. viewers|
|11||1||"Chapter One"||Ken Biller||Ken Biller||April 24, 2018||0.72|
|While going to art school in Madrid, young Pablo Ruiz rejects the traditional rules of painting in search of his own unique style, and soon changes his last name to Picasso. He moves to Paris and befriends art student Carlos Casagemas, and together they share a studio and sell their art until a terrible tragedy happens. In 1938, Pablo contends with the rising threat of Franco's fascism in his home country of Spain.|
|12||2||"Chapter Two"||Ken Biller||Ken Biller||April 24, 2018||0.52|
|Pablo learns that Guernica, an ancient town in the Basque Country, was destroyed by the Nazis, and paints his 1937 mural of the same name depicting the carnage. It is shown in the Spanish Pavilion at the Universal Exposition in Paris. It is critiqued by inspiring French painter Françoise Gilot, who catches Pablo's eye, especially when his current muse, Dora Maar, no longer inspires him to pick up a paintbrush.|
|13||3||"Chapter Three"||Kevin Hooks||Brian Peterson & Kelly Souders||May 1, 2018||0.26|
|After the suicide of his heartbroken friend, Pablo struggles with life. He meets poet Max Jacob who helps him through his pain, using it in his art. While he paints, Pablo only sees bleak colors, thus beginning his Blue Period. While back in Barcelona in 1903, to honor Carlos, he creates La Vie. In 1943, Pablo grows closer to Françoise and he shows her how to feel the passion through her work.|
|14||4||"Chapter Four"||Kevin Hooks||Raf Green||May 8, 2018||0.35|
|Back in Paris, Pablo reunites with Max and through him meets French poet Guillaume Apollinaire who inspires him to create Family of Saltimbanques, the masterpiece of his Rose Period. But after seeing rival Henri Matisse's work at the Autumn Salon, Pablo pulls his painting from the show. In 1944, Pablo loses Max to the Nazis, and he soon struggles with two love affairs between Dora and Françoise.|
|15||5||"Chapter Five"||Laura Belsey||Noah Pink||May 15, 2018||0.33|
|After the French critics denounce all the artists who submitted their work at the Autumn Salon as Matisse imitators, Pablo meets the man himself and is challenged by his radical genius. For years, the two artists try to outdo each other, urged on by brother and sister art collecting duo Leo and Gertrude Stein. When attempts with his first love, Fernande Olivier fail, Pablo seeks inspiration from the primitive African masks at Trocadero Museum and creates Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. In 1947, Pablo convinces Françoise to move in with him.|
|16||6||"Chapter Six"||Laura Belsey||Matthew Newman||May 22, 2018||0.33|
|Pablo is inspired by Henri Rousseau, a customs clerk who paints in a distorted style, and starts cubism with Matisse's protégé Georges Braque. The two go on to change the way people see art and they sell many paintings in their new style. After the Mona Lisa is stolen from the Louvre in 1911, Apollinare's secretary Géry Pieret who stole statues from the museum, confesses he knows who did it. Since Pieret sold them the artifacts, Pablo and Apollinare are accused of stealing the beloved Da Vinci painting. Pablo takes Françoise on a getaway to Midi, but she is not impressed. He asks her to have a baby with him.|
|17||7||"Chapter Seven"||Greg Yaitanes||Wendy Riss||May 29, 2018||0.26|
|In 1912, Pablo and Georges expand their art movement with radical collages called Crystal Cubism. Pablo's Family of Saltimbanques becomes the most expensive painting in history, selling for 12,650 francs. When World War I begins, Pablo doesn't believe in fighting and remains a pacifist at home while his friends fight in the trenches. But he has his own battles with Fernande having an affair with Italian painter Ubaldo Oppi. Pablo falls in love with her conventional friend, Eva Gouel, wanting to marry her. However, she's diagnosed with lung cancer and dies soon after. After the loss of his father, Pablo has a fling with cabaret singer Gaby Lespinasse, but she is engaged. In 1949, with two kids with Françoise, Pablo, a member of the Communist Party attends the World Peace Council in Paris and creates a symbol of peace.|
|18||8||"Chapter Eight"||Greg Yaitanes||Stephanie K. Smith||June 5, 2018||0.27|
|After befriending playwright Jean Cocteau, Pablo designs his ballet, Parade in 1917, and meets his first wife, Olga Khokhlova, a Russian ballerina. He must choose starting a family with his new wife or being around for his old friends. Max decides to stay at a monastery and make his vows to God, while Apollinaire contracts Spanish influenza. As an older man in the early 1950s, Pablo struggles with Françoise who attempts to bring his complex family back into his life. It is a distraction when he tries to continue his legacy with a retrospective of his works.|
|19||9||"Chapter Nine"||Mathias Herndl||Raf Green & Ali Gordon-Goldstein||June 12, 2018||0.27|
|Surrealist writer André Breton includes Pablo in the surrealism movement, but he doesn't want to be labeled. When Pablo feels stuck in his marriage with Olga and her snobbish ways, he seeks out someone new. He sees Marie-Thérèse Walter on the streets of Paris and she agrees to let him paint her, thus starting a love affair. In 1935, Pablo needs an outlet and begins writing poetry. His friend, poet Paul Éluard introduces him to Dora, a photographer. After finding out Pablo has been sneaking off to St. Tropez with his young mistress Geneviève Laporte, Françoise leaves him to pursue her artistic goals by designing a ballet for choreographer Janine Charrat, and becomes more than friends with philosopher Kostas Axelos in 1953.|
|20||10||"Chapter Ten"||Mathias Herndl||Matthew Newman & Noah Pink||June 19, 2018||0.34|
|After leaving Pablo, Françoise struggles to escape his shadow even when she marries, then divorces art teacher Luc Simon, and later moves to New York City to showcase her art. Not wanting to only be known as Picasso's former mistress, she fights back by writing a tell-all book about their abusive relationship and gets into a healthy one with doctor Jonas Salk. Meanwhile, Pablo meets Jacqueline Roque and she becomes his last muse and then his second wife after Olga dies in 1955. An aging Pablo withdraws from the public eye to create a neo-expressionist self-portrait. On April 8, 1973, Pablo dies at the age of 91 without a will. The art he leaves behind is worth millions.|
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||U.S. viewers|
|21||1||"Respect"||Anthony Hemingway||Suzan-Lori Parks||March 21, 2021||1.38|
|The episode starts with "Chain of Fools". Aretha Franklin is growing up in the 1950s. In the 1960s, she travels to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to sign a deal with the record label Atlantic Records.|
|22||2||"Until The Real Thing Comes Along"||Neema Barnette||Story by : Suzan-Lori Parks and Diana Son|
Teleplay by : Diana Son
|March 21, 2021||1.37|
|Aretha catches the attention of Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records in 1966. Little Re has her first touring experience on the Gospel Circuit in 1954 with C.L. Franklin and meets her idol, Clara Ward.|
|23||3||"Do Right Woman"||Neema Barnette||Nathan Louis Jackson, Suzan-Lori Parks & Diana Son||March 22, 2021||1.04|
|Aretha Franklin has her first child at 12. Little Aretha Franklin leaves behind her newborn child to return to the Gospel Circuit in 1955, meeting with music legends James Cleveland and Little Sammie Bryant.|
|24||4||"Unforgettable"||Bille Woodruff||Story by : Gwendolyn M. Parker & Suzan-Lori Parks|
Teleplay by : Gwendolyn M. Parker
|March 22, 2021||1.07|
|Aretha is featured on the cover of Time magazine in 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.|
|25||5||"Young, Gifted and Black"||Anthony Hemingway||Suzan-Lori Parks||March 23, 2021||0.98|
|Aretha records 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. Franklin starts to speak on political issues and offers to post the bail for Angela Davis.|
|26||6||"Amazing Grace"||Anthony Hemingway||Becky Mode||March 23, 2021||1.03|
|Aretha records her bestselling live gospel album Amazing Grace in 1972 at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church; Little Re discovers that she's pregnant with her second child at age 14, forcing her to leave school.|
|27||7||"Chain of Fools"||Anthony Hemingway||Suzan-Lori Parks||March 24, 2021||0.93|
|Aretha steals an opportunity from her sister Carolyn; she receives a Grammy nomination but is ultimately snubbed from winning the award; she meets with Arista founder Clive Davis; Jerry Wexler leaves Atlantic Records, and he and Aretha part ways.|
|28||8||"No One Sleeps"||Anthony Hemingway||Suzan-Lori Parks||March 24, 2021||1.03|
|Franklin begins a career at Arista with the help of Clive Davis, and in a Grammy performance in 1998, she solidifies her eternal reign as the Queen of Soul. She releases "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" with George Michael in 1987.|
On April 28, 2016, it was announced that National Geographic had given the production a straight-to-series order, its first ever scripted series. The series was set to be based on the biography Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson and adapted by Noah Pink, who was also expected to co-executive produce. Executive producers were announced to include Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Francie Calfo, Gigi Pritzker, Rachel Shane, Sam Sokolow, and Jeffrey Cooney. Anna Culp was set to co-produce alongside Melissa Rucker. Ron Howard was expected to direct the first episode of the series. Production companies involved with the series were set to include Imagine TV, Fox 21 TV Studios, OddLot Entertainment and EUE/Sokolow.
On April 19, 2017, National Geographic renewed the series for a second season. The subject of the second season was to have been announced during the finale of the first season, but was instead revealed to be Pablo Picasso the day after the finale, when the network and producers did not want to divert attention away from the season finale. The second season premiered on April 24, 2018.
On April 18, 2018, National Geographic renewed the series for a third season. The season was initially set to follow the life of writer Mary Shelley. Ken Biller is expected to return as showrunner, executive producer and writer. Also returning are executive producers Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Francie Calfo, Jeff Cooney, Sam Sokolow, Gigi Pritzker, and Rachel Shane. Anna Culp will return as producer. Returning production companies include Imagine TV, MWM Studios, and EUE/Sokolow. On February 10, 2019, it was announced that the subject of the third season would instead be American singer Aretha Franklin, known as "The Queen of Soul". The third season was slated to premiere on May 25, 2020 and air over four consecutive nights, but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and began airing on March 21, 2021.
On December 10, 2020, the series was renewed for a fourth season, which is set to follow the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and will be moving to Disney+.
In August 2016, it was announced that Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Flynn would star in the series as Albert Einstein both as an old man and as a young adult, respectively. Additionally, it was reported that Emily Watson would also star in the series and that Michael McElhatton, Seth Gabel, Samantha Colley, Richard Topol, and Vincent Kartheiser had joined the cast. In November 2016, it was announced that Shannon Tarbet, Claire Rushbrook, and Robert Lindsay had been cast in recurring roles. On February 2, 2017, it was reported that T. R. Knight had been cast in the recurring role of J. Edgar Hoover.
On September 6, 2017, it was announced that Antonio Banderas would star in the second season as Pablo Picasso. On November 2, 2017, it was reported that Alex Rich would co-star in the series sharing the lead role of Picasso. It was further reported that Clémence Poésy, Robert Sheehan, Poppy Delevingne, Aisling Franciosi, and Sebastian Roché also joined the cast and that Samantha Colley, T. R. Knight, Seth Gabel, and Johnny Flynn were returning from season one in new roles.
On October 3, 2019, Cynthia Erivo was cast to play Aretha Franklin.
Principal photography for season one took place in mid-2016 in Prague. Filming for season two began in November 2017 in Málaga and was expected to take place for over five months in various cities around the world, including Barcelona, Paris, and Budapest. Filming for the third season was set to commence in November 2019, for an early-2020 release. In March 2020, the production was shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The series resumed production on October 1, 2020.
Most of Franklin's music in season three was recorded by Erivo. The producers, however, were unable to obtain the rights to use Franklin's biggest songs, "Respect" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman".
The first season received mostly positive reviews. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the series has an approval rating of 83%, based on 29 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "Buoyed by a superb performance from Geoffrey Rush, Genius is a compelling origin story of one of history's most renowned scientists." On Metacritic, the season had a score of 65 out of 100, based on 20 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Science columnist Dennis Overbye of The New York Times described the series as a "tense binge-worthy psychological thriller full of political and romantic melodrama." Overbye further noted that Einstein himself, writing to his sister, wrote, "If everybody lived a life like mine, there would be no need for novels." According to Hillary Busis of Vanity Fair, the film shows, "... Einstein at work ... peers into the über-genius's tumultuous love life (monogamy, he believes, is "not natural") ... his fraught emigration to the United States ...". Busis quotes producer Ron Howard: "When you move past his scientific contributions, Albert's life story—what his youth was like, who his friends were, who his enemies were, his tumultuous love life—is a story people don't know ... I think audiences are going to be riveted as we tell this ambitious and revealing human story behind Einstein's scientific brilliance."
The second season received mixed reviews, but garnered praise for its star, Antonio Banderas. Rotten Tomatoes gave an approval rating of 59%, based on 17 reviews. Its critical consensus reads: "An impressive performance from Antonio Banderas rescues Genius: Picasso from condensed melodrama." On Metacritic, the season had a score of 52 out of 100, based on 10 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
The third season received mainly positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gave an approval rating of 73% based on 26 reviews. The critical consensus reads: "Cynthia Erivo captures the spirit of the singular singer with poise and passion - if only Aretha's writing were as strong as her performance." On Metacritic, the season had a score of 67 out of 100, based on 10 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
The family of Aretha Franklin did not react too kindly to the season. They claim they were not consulted in any part of the production, despite the crew's insistence that they worked with Franklin's estate.
|2017||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Limited Series||Genius||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie||Geoffrey Rush||Nominated|
|Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special||Ron Howard||Nominated|
|Outstanding Hairstyling for a Limited Series or Movie||Tash Lees, Fae Hammond, Adela Robova, Alex Rouse||Nominated|
|Outstanding Main Title Theme Music||Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe||Nominated|
|Outstanding Makeup for a Limited Series or Movie (Non-Prosthetic)||Davina Lamont||Nominated|
|Outstanding Period/Fantasy Costumes for a Series, Limited Series, or Movie||Sonu Mishra, Martina Hejlova, Petia Krckova||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Editing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special||Daniel Pagan, Erich Gann, Arielle McGrail, Bill Bell, Nicholas Fitzgerald, Tim Chilton, Jill Sanders||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Limited Series or Movie||Bob Bronow, Mark Hensley, Petr Forejt||Nominated|
|Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role||Eric Durst, Lenka Líkařová, Viktor Muller, Marek Ruth, Tomáš Kalhous, Lukáš Herrmann, Pavel Kolář, Petr Hastík, Vit Komrzý||Nominated|
|Hollywood Music in Media Awards||Main Title Theme – TV Show/Limited Series||Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe||Nominated|
|2018||Golden Globe Awards||Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film||Geoffrey Rush||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series||Geoffrey Rush||Nominated|
|American Society of Cinematographers Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Television Movie, Miniseries or Pilot||Mathias Herndl (for "Chapter One")||Won|
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Limited Series||Genius: Picasso||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie||Antonio Banderas||Nominated|
|Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or Movie||Mathias Herndl (for "Chapter One")||Won|
|Outstanding Hairstyling for a Limited Series or Movie||Kate Starr, Alex Rouse, Judit Halasz, Janosne Kajtar||Nominated|
|Outstanding Makeup for a Limited Series or Movie (Non-Prosthetic)||Davina Lamont, Hayden Bloomfield, Szandra Biro, Szilvia Homolya||Nominated|
|Outstanding Period Costumes||Sonu Mishra, Eudald Magari, Balazs Labancz (for "Chapter One")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Limited Series or Movie||Bob Bronow, Mark Hensley, Tamás Csaba (for "Chapter One")||Won|
|2019||Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie||Antonio Banderas||Nominated|
|2021||Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards||Best Actress in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or Television Movie||Cynthia Erivo||Nominated|||
|Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or Television Movie||Courtney B. Vance||Nominated|
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie||Cynthia Erivo||Nominated|||
|Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Choreography for Scripted Programming||Dondraico Johnson (Routines: "Jump" / "Satisfaction" / "See Saw")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie||Dan Brennan, Ken Hahn and Jay Meagher (for "Respect")||Nominated|
Sanai Victoria will be Little Re (young Aretha)...