Spoilers are ahead. The third season of the National Geographic anthology series Genius begins with Aretha Franklin in the studio. It’s 1967 and she believes this recording session down in Muscle Shoals will make or break her career. She’s looking for a hit, but more importantly, she’s looking for her sound. Her worry might seem funny now knowing that this session would lead to her being crowned the Queen of Soul. But the cast of Genius: Aretha are such dead ringers for the real people they’re portraying, it’s easy to get caught up in the drama. Almost as if you’ve gone back in time to watch it live. Yes, Cynthia Erivo is that good as Ms. Franklin.
The eight-episode series, which premieres on Nat Geo and streams on Hulu the next day, follows five decades of the late icon’s illustrious career. It shows her early years on the gospel caravan circuit with her father Rev. C. L. Franklin and becoming a young mom. It covers her abusive first marriage with her manager Ted White and her commitment to the civil rights movement in her music and personal life. Her journey to the top of the charts was not easy and after watching Genius you can’t help but put even more R-E-S-P-E-C-T on her name.