Network: National Geographic Channel
Genre: Documentary, Drama
Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Johnny Flynn, Nicholas Rowe, Samantha Colley
Einstein was a genius: we know this for certain, but getting an idea of what exactly his life was like has been a mystery.
“Theory of Everything,” starring the incredible Eddie Redmayne in 2014, was one of the best depictions of another genius’s life; this time, Stephen Hawking. Perhaps this was the aesthetic “Genius,” which premiered on April 25, was going for: a piece about a beloved scientist plucked out of history.
The timepoints we get to observe in Einstein’s life are from when he was in college and in 1932 as a professor at the very beginning of Nazi Germany. The show’s representation of Einstein doesn’t portray a stereotypical media version of a strict scientist, laboring behind his studies and without a sense of humor. He’s a romantic; maybe not a very good one, but he did find love. Mad genius scientists are human too, after all.
National Geographic has put impressive efforts into making “Genius” not only historically accurate, but interesting. Einstein was a man who hated school but loved education. He refused to study humanities because he had no interest, wanting to invest everything into physics and mathematics.
Einstein was also stubborn, sticking to the facts and a more realistic look on life. Politics disgusted him; philosophy as well. He became a citizen of the world, as his host father put it. When his family failed to understand him, he found comfort in his host family in Switzerland, a large and more liberal family that encouraged Einstein’s perspective on life and the universe.
If you have studied Einstein, even in the slightest, you are probably aware of Einstein’s struggles in school. The teacher judged him for not following the rather solemn, disciplinary take on education. When Einstein switched to an alternative school, however, he thrived. His ideas weren’t shunned, but welcomed.
Einstein was also thought to be Autistic, a common trait that some experts think many geniuses possess. Autism is often addressed as a childhood disorder rather than one that high-functioning individuals and adults also experience. The way the show addresses the unique way Einstein’s brain functions is flattering, still honoring his intelligence while shining positive light and letting him shine just for being himself.
During his childhood and adulthood, we see Einstein as a professor, teaching how time is not a set concept, and that light travels as waves to the Earth and the rest of our universe. With special effects, we imagine his thoughts, from the way the light beam floats from the Sun to our planet to the way he imagines a ball floating through space.
The series highlights the great questions Einstein asked; questions that were simple in theory, but ones he would spend his entire life trying to figure out.How does light travel through outer space when outer space is nothing but a vacuum, a void? What is time? What is life?
Despite the changing times and the surprise uprising of the Nazi regime, Einstein still persevered as if nothing was holding him back, which was key to his success. If you’re in need of a show to motivate you as a STEM major, a person with a learning disorder, or are just in need of a little motivation and a great story to watch, this is for you.
Review by Morgan Connelly