Profiting from its in depth entry to Giancarlo Granda, the determine on the middle of all of it, Hulu’s “God Forbid: The Sex Scandal that Brought Down a Dynasty” pulls again the curtain on a salacious story of intercourse, lies, hypocrisy, and political intrigue – for streaming functions, a divine cocktail if there ever was one.
Dismissed because the “pool boy” in early media accounts, Granda and his sister Lilia depict him as having been naively swept up into the swingin’ life-style of Jerry Falwell Jr. and his spouse, Becki, having met the previous Liberty College inheritor and his partner whereas offering drink service at a complicated Miami lodge.
Granda proceeded to have a protracted relationship with Becki Falwell, alleging that her husband was totally conscious of the association all through, and endeavored to create real-estate alternatives for Granda partially to maintain his spouse blissful.
“They had this weird psychological hold over me,” Granda says, whereas his sister – referring to her misgivings about her brother’s actions on the time – says that when monetary doorways started to open for him, “I thought, ‘However weird this thing started, maybe it’ll turn into something good.’”
Because the title makes clear, that wasn’t the case, and all the story is difficult by the political clout Falwell wielded as an evangelical chief, giving then-candidate Donald Trump a vital endorsement throughout the 2016 presidential marketing campaign.
Director Billy Corben has constructed a complete physique of documentaries across the Sunshine state and its colourful excesses, together with “Cocaine Cowboys” and “The U.” “God Forbid” locations him very a lot in the identical area, utilizing cheeky dramatic recreations to visualise the affair, mixed with voiceover interviews to flesh out the small print.
“God Forbid” additionally detours to clarify the historical past of Liberty’s founding beneath Jerry Falwell Sr., the youthful Falwell’s considerably uncomfortable position because the scion to that empire, and the broader evolution of the evangelical motion across the difficulty of abortion as a political rallying level.
Granda is portrayed sympathetically, with loads of textual content messages in addition to enter from his sister – with whom he had shared particulars, per the 2 of them – to buttress his account of occasions. He admits that he was bold however principally over his head coping with the older Falwells, whereas being bedazzled by their cash and connections. (The Falwells declined to be interviewed for the documentary.)
“God Forbid” additionally earns factors for not overplaying its hand, telling the story in a comparatively concise package deal – versus extending it into the more and more in style docuseries format – whereas nonetheless connecting the central scandal to the political tides with which it turned inextricably linked.
Jerry Falwell resigned from Liberty in 2020, acknowledging Becki Falwell’s affair with Granda, whereas stating he was “not involved.” He additionally claimed that Granda had sought to blackmail the couple, a cost Granda has denied.
“God Forbid” clearly supplies Granda a pleasant discussion board to inform his story, which incorporates how he got here out on the opposite facet of his quarter-hour of notoriety. Whether or not that translated into “something good” for him, as his sister had hoped, when it comes to offering the producers with a seemingly irresistible subject, it definitely has for them.
“God Forbid: The Sex Scandal that Brought Down a Dynasty” premieres November 1 on Hulu.