The Nat Geo series "isn’t awful, but it’s very messy," says Craig Jenkins. "Cynthia Erivo is a fantastic actress and singer, and in the titular role of Aretha, she makes the hardest part — mimicking one of America’s greatest voices — seem manageable. But she doesn’t necessarily feel like Aretha." He adds that there are too many moments that "feels a little unsanctioned; you quickly come to surmise there’s no 'Respect' because the film Respect has the rights. You wonder why this thing was conceptualized and pushed out after her death when there was already a biopic in the works that had been given the late legend’s blessing. What Genius: Aretha does best is identify what drives people, what drives them toward greatness and toward self-destruction, and how a person can be both brilliant and troubled, loved but deeply misunderstood. When it handles this business delicately, Genius: Aretha is a joy. But as much as it misses the mark, with another Aretha story already in the can, it’s worth asking why this one needed to exist at all."