I love and appreciate stories of all kinds, presented in many different formats. Historical fiction, whether in a book or a film, is one of my favorites, as I feel like I learn more about a real person or actual event. This is why I am enjoying the National Geographic series Genius so much.
Genius is an anthology series focusing on the untold stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators. The first season featured Albert Einstein, portrayed as a young man by Johnny Flynn, and as an older adult by Geoffrey Rush. This season, with 10 episodes, is complete and can be watched on demand or through Amazon Prime.
Season two focuses on Pablo Picasso, played by Alex Rich in the artist’s youth and Antonio Banderas as the aging man. This most reason season is on Tuesdays at 9:00 pm, central time. Episode seven airs tomorrow night.
Portraying such incredibly talented and complex men as Einstein and Picasso was a huge undertaking for National Geographic. They have created an excellent series that explores the scientific and artistic geniuses of both men, while giving the viewer a peek into their personal lives. Their brilliance is revealed, along with their quirks, flaws and challenges in life.
Accuracy is extremely important to National Geographic. The creators of the show gather historical information from documents, letters, photographs and biographies, and mix those facts with creative drama to provide an entertaining and inspiring series.
I am actually watching both seasons simultaneously, having started with Picasso and then realizing there was a season one featuring Einstein.
Albert Einstein has intrigued me since childhood. I often refer to his quotes and appreciate his imagination and creativity. It has been heart touching, and almost painful, to watch his struggles as a young man. So few understood him. His father, his professors, his friends tried to categorize him, when he was very much a round genius in a square world.
Einstein’s immense curiosity often gets him into trouble as he questions those who attempt to teach him. And it’s interesting watching his somewhat childlike sense of wonder and enthusiasm about the universe fuel his passion for making major scientific discoveries.
Pablo Picasso demonstrates a different kind of genius. Introduced to painting at an early age, by his father, Picasso spends most of his life recreating himself, and his art, over and over. I am most familiar with Picasso’s cubism phase, so it has been fascinating to watch how he moved through a variety of movements and styles, from realism to surrealism.
Picasso was always searching for that which gave meaning to his life, and how best to express his unique perspectives of the world. Like Einstein, Picasso often struggled with relationships, especially the romantic ones.
Alex Rich on the left and Antonio Banderas on the right, as Picasso.
Both seasons tell the stories of these geniuses by moving back and forth between their early and later years. Einstein does so in a more linear fashion, while Picasso sometimes flips back and forth so frequently that it can get a bit confusing.
However, this series has fleshed out these two personalities so much for me. Yes, it’s dramatized, and yet what is portrayed actually happened. I fact check. I love the way the show humanizes both men. Einstein was more than a scientist with a larger than average brain. Picasso more than an artist who saw and painted the world differently. They journeyed through joys and sorrows, felt frustrations over being misunderstood, made mistakes, and changed the world through their gifts.
Genius shines because it focuses on the intimate lives, rather than the accomplishments, of two extraordinary men. I appreciate Einstein and Picasso even more than I did before. I see them differently. I see their hearts and souls.