Jerry Falwell Jr.’s fall from grace was, like everything else over the last five or so years, predictably trite. The son of Jerry Falwell Sr., Junior stepped into his father’s camel-sized shoes and used his father’s political connections to promote the very lucrative (and tax exempt) morality of evangelical Christianity. At the peak of his powers, with Donald Trump by his side, Falwell Jr. and his wife came under scrutiny for what sounded a lot like what evangelicals and other conservative Christians would call an immoral lifestyle. The evangelical school his father began, Liberty University, called it his “loose lifestyle” in its 2021 lawsuit against the former leader. A “pool boy” with whom the Falwells maintained both a business relationship and an intimate relationship came under investigation.
People’s intimate lives are none of my beeswax when they don’t effect millions of people. If you make untold millions of dollars and use your political power to take away the rights of hundreds of millions of Americans based on a “moral” stance that you yourself cannot be bothered to even attempt to live up to, then your intimate relationships become everybody’s business.
You have only had to watch one soap opera in your life to know at least some of what happened next. In 2006, film director and Florida native Billy Corben hit the scene with a wildly entertaining documentary about the cocaine trade in the late 1970s and 1980s that burst out in Miami. Called Cocaine Cowboys, Corben’s fast-paced, uptempo soundtrack style of documentary filmmaking became a hit. Since that time he has done a lot of documentary films including the 30 for 30 series The U film about Miami University’s storied college football program. His newest documentary will be coming to streaming service Hulu on Nov. 1, and the trailer looks great.
Called God Forbid, it chronicles the rise and fall of the Falwells and promises to expose the “evangelical” family’s very un-evangelical lifestyles. (Or maybe I have it wrong and it is an “ultra-evangelical” lifestyle?)
One of the clear indicators that the story will be an interesting if not entertaining one is that the third person in the Falwell’s polyamorous relationship, Giancarlo Granda, is a featured talking head in the doc. A classic summation of what the documentary promises comes early on as Granda says, “If I would have known that accepting this woman’s invitation to go back to her hotel room would have led to a scandal involving the president of the largest Christian university in the world and the president of the United States, I would have walked away and just enjoyed my private life.” And that’s the tamest part of the trailer.
The trailer strongly implies that former Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen may have found out about the Falwell’s lifestyle and possibly used that information to make the unappealing Donald Trump more appealing to Jerry Falwell Jr.
Enjoy. Seriously. Enjoy it.
On this week’s episode of The Downballot we get medieval on the traditional media for its appalling display of ableism in the wake of John Fetterman’s recent NBC interview; recap the absolutely wild goings-on in Los Angeles, where City Council President Nury Martinez just resigned after a racist tirade was caught on tape; dive into the unexpectedly close race for governor in Oklahoma; and highlight a brand-new database from Daily Kos Elections showing how media markets and congressional districts overlap.
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