Making the most of its extensive access to Giancarlo Granda, the figure at the center of it all, Hulu’s “God Forbid: The Sex Scandal that Brought Down a Dynasty” pulls back the curtain on a salty story of sex, lies, hypocrisy and intrigue politics: for transmission purposes, a divine cocktail if ever there was one.
Dismissed as the “pool boy” in early media accounts, Granda and his sister Lilia portray him as naively swept up in the Jerry Falwell Jr. lifestyle. and his wife, Becki, having met the former Liberty University heir and his spouse while serving drinks at a posh Miami hotel.
Granda proceeded to have a long relationship with Becki Falwell, claiming that her husband was fully aware of the arrangement and strove to create real estate opportunities for Granda in part to keep his wife happy.
“They had this strange psychological control over me,” says Granda, while his sister – referring to her misgivings about her brother’s actions at the time – says that when financial doors began to open for him, “I thought, ‘As strange as this is. started, maybe it will turn into something good.”
As the title makes clear, it wasn’t, and the whole story is complicated by Falwell’s political influence as an evangelical leader, giving then-candidate Donald Trump a crucial endorsement during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Director Billy Corben has created a whole slew of documentaries about the sunshine state and its colorful excesses, including “Cocaine Cowboys” and “The U.” “God Forbid” puts him very much in the same space, using brazen dramatic recreations to visualize the affair, combined with voice-over interviews to flesh out the details.
“God Forbid” also detours to tell the story of Liberty’s founding under Jerry Falwell Sr., the young Falwell’s somewhat awkward role as a scion of that empire, and the broader evolution of the evangelical movement around the subject of abortion as a political rallying point. .
Granda is portrayed sympathetically, with many text messages, as well as input from her sister, with whom she had shared details, for both of them, to bolster her account of events. He admits he was ambitious, but basically in over his head dealing with the older Falwells while dazzled by their money and connections. (The Falwells declined to be interviewed for the documentary.)
“God Forbid” also earns points for not overplaying its hand, telling the story in a relatively concise package, rather than stretching it into the increasingly popular docuseries format, while connecting the central scandal with the political tides with which he was indissolubly linked. .
Jerry Falwell resigned from Liberty in 2020, acknowledging Becki Falwell’s relationship with Granda, though claiming he was “not involved.” He also claimed that Granda had tried to blackmail the couple, a charge Granda has denied.
“God Forbid” clearly gives Granda a friendly forum to tell his story, which includes how he came out on the other side of his 15 minutes of fame. Whether this translated into “something good” for him, as his sister had hoped, in terms of providing the producers with a seemingly irresistible subject, he certainly has it going for them.
“God Forbid: The Sex Scandal that Brought Down a Dynasty” premieres Nov. 1 on Hulu.