‘God Forbid’ Review: An Affair With Political Implications

The Hulu documentary covers a high-profile affair involving a pool attendant and the prominent evangelical couple Becki Falwell and Jerry Falwell Jr.

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By Calum Marsh

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“God Forbid: The Sex Scandal That Brought Down a Dynasty,” a Hulu documentary from the director Billy Corben, concerns a sensational, high-profile affair between Giancarlo Granda, a pool attendant at a luxury hotel in Miami Beach, Fla., and Becki Falwell, the wife of the prominent Republican evangelist Jerry Falwell Jr. — whom Granda claims participated in these relations as a silent voyeur. At the time, Falwell Jr. was the president and chancellor of one of the nation’s largest Christian colleges, Liberty University, and one of the best known evangelical supporters of former President Donald J. Trump.

The film describes, in graphic and sometimes vulgar detail, a seven-year sexual relationship that had surprising political ramifications involving the attorney Michael Cohen, the actor Tom Arnold, and President Trump, each of whom, as the film illustrates, became tangentially embroiled in the ensuing drama and fallout.

“God Forbid” tries to rationalize its often lurid account of these events, emphasizing the Falwells’ hypocrisy and castigating them as “predators” who showed patterns of abuse — the charming husband and beloved wife are “not the good Christians they present themselves to be,” one observer concludes righteously.

But while Falwell Jr. may indeed be a charlatan, ridiculing his sexual predilections seems like a pretty dubious way to prove it. (We’re meant to savor the irony that, as Granda says, Falwell is “trying to appear as the strongman” when he is in fact “the cuck in the corner of the room.”) I’m not sure what’s gained from scrutinizing so many of Becki Falwell’s candid texts and voice messages, other than making her seem foolish.

The film combines archival materials, original interviews and various text messages and video and audio recordings pertaining to the case. Its smoking gun is a recording of a late-night video call in which Becki is shown drinking wine and stripping naked, reminiscing with Granda about their past dalliances. I found it incredibly depressing. What, exactly, I had to wonder, is being documented here, and what, exactly, am I meant to conclude?

God Forbid
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 49 minutes. Watch on Hulu.

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