Review: God Forbid Chronicles Jerry Falwell Jr.'s Fall From Grace
Falwell and his wife engaged in extramarital trysts with a younger man and introduced him to powerful friends, such as future president Donald Trump.
When the Jerry Falwell Jr. "pool boy" story broke, the schadenfreude was almost too much to handle: The scion of an evangelical empire, whose namesake father weaponized his influence with Christian voters to make politicians seek his endorsement, was brought down by a tripartite sex scandal with his wife and a younger man they met poolside at a Miami resort.
The Hulu documentary God Forbid chronicles Falwell's fall from grace, featuring extensive interviews with Giancarlo Granda, the infamous pool attendant. While running one of the nation's largest Christian universities and enforcing a punitively moralistic campus code of conduct, Falwell and his wife engaged in extramarital trysts with Granda and introduced him to powerful friends, such as future president Donald Trump.
No stranger to sexual libertinism himself, Trump needed support from evangelicals during the 2016 primary, and Falwell's endorsement was crucial to deliver it. Falwell expended significant energy and expense to keep his peccadilloes private, even enlisting Trump fixer Michael Cohen to lean on anyone who threatened to go public.
The film is a bit scattershot, with lurid direction more suited to tabloid TV. Nonetheless, it serves as a stark example of the danger in letting one's politics stand in for one's morality—or vice versa.