Genius is an engaging exploration of the impact of social media and reality TV on its contestants, the strange ways in which their interactions are controlled, and whether it’s possible to break out of the strictures. It uses an interlocking structure of two stories, that of the makeup artists and wardrobe assistants who complain about the show’s stars, and the plot of the show itself (essentially a eugenics Love Island) to interrogate the moral implications of working on a show and the aftermath.
It’s often very funny, presenting us with the classic stereotypes of reality shows (the upper-class twit, the one who really is just in it for the exposure) before stripping (some of) them back to reveal their motivations and insecurities. It works extremely well as a human story.
Einstein’s Brain: Hello!
Me: Hello...Oh my god. A talking brain.
Einstein’s Brain: Yes!
Me: This seems a bit tacked on and out of place, experimental for the sake of it.
Einstein’s Brain: Well, so was I!
Me: I think it worked as a scene individually, but it kind of signalled the beginning of the end for me in terms of plot…
Einstein’s Brain: That’s all well and good, can’t appeal to everyone. What did you think about the genius aspects?
Me: I didn’t feel like they engaged with them as much as the show synopsis suggested. Which is why I thought it worked well on a human level – I believed in the relationship between Rosie and Josephine more than I did in your conversation with Rosie about what makes a genius.
Einstein’s Brain: And the ending?
Einstein’s Brain: What did you think of the ending?
Me: That question’s a bit sudden. Just like the end of the show. But I thought it left it on a funny and melancholic note, and overall I really enjoyed it. But I would’ve liked a firmer grasp on the themes and the story structure, as especially the ending seemed to drag on a bit. Would love to see it on stage though.
Einstein’s Brain: Me too. Wait, what are you-?
[I dropped the brain.]