The Reel Review
In 2020 evangelical religious leader Jerry Falwell Jr., the Liberty University President who helped elect Donald Trump U.S. President in 2016, was exposed by former Miami hotel pool boy Giancarlo Granda as a hypocritical cuckold and sexual predator who frequently watched Granda have sex with his wife, starting in 2012. This Hulu documentary reveals the lurid details of that seven-year relationship from Granda’s perspective, even linking Falwell’s endorsement of Trump to this very scandal.
Using some wonderfully cheeky reenactments, the initial tone of this documentary from director Billy Corben (Cocaine Cowboys) is pretty humorous, starting with the then 20-year-old Granda not even realizing who the Falwells were until he was told by his big sis Lilia, who bears a striking resemblance (and personality) to actress Aubrey Plaza. Her corroboration of events and at times hilarious commentary are damning.
What many people didn’t know is that the Falwells had subsequently befriended Granda’s own family and were pulling him into real estate deals, all to exert financial and psychological control over him. Granda says Jerry would call him if he wasn’t spending enough time with Becki and he says they also threatened to share the many videotapes of him having sex with Becki with his subsequent girlfriend, to keep him in line. Their behavior, as described by Granda, is revolting. Granda has the receipts – a considerable collection of photos, phone call recordings and text messages with the Falwells.
Thankfully, Corben smartly avoids going down the bloated docuseries format, but even so, the film does stray, with tangents about Falwell’s father, Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell, and that organization’s influence on the Republican Party. The latter half of the film takes a more sinister, stomach-churning turn, highlighting more details of the Falwell’s financial and psychological hold over the at one-time suicidal Granda. It also exposes the swinging duo’s hypocrisy while espousing moral piety and also reveals Liberty University’s shocking ties to the January 6th insurrection on the Capitol. In sum, God Forbid exposes a shocking amount of very un-Christian behavior at and by the world’s largest and most powerful Christian university.
• Jerry Falwell Jr., who resigned from Liberty University in 2020, lives with his wife Becki on their farm in Bedford County, Virginia. Both have acknowledged Becki’s affair with Granda, with Jerry blaming her, claiming he was “not involved.”
• According to his LinkedIn profile, Giancarlo Granda currently is a real estate operations professional and recent graduate of Georgetown University. He recently published his tell-all book, Off the Deep End: Jerry and Becki Falwell and the Collapse of an Evangelical Dynasty.
• Liberty University’s more than $10 million civil lawsuit against Falwell is ongoing. It accuses Falwell of negotiating a higher salary from the university in 2019 without warning of the harm his personal behavior could cause the school and of refusing to return Liberty’s confidential information and other personal property.
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