Season 2 of National Geographic's Genius will turn to the arts and focus on legendary painter Pablo Picasso. The first season of the acclaimed series focused on the life of Albert Einstein, portrayed by Geoffrey Rush as the older Einstein and Johnny Flynn as the younger version. The sprawling, life-spanning season was praised for its ambition and high production values, in addition to its impressive performances and non-linear narratives.
Genius was renewed for a second season in April, but executive producer Ron Howard waited until after the season 1 finale aired on Tuesday to announce which great historical mind would be the subject of the second season. The focus on Einstein in season 1 may have led many to assume that Genius will simply be about the world of science, but Howard's announcement made it clear that it is not. Genius will switch gears and in season 2 will focus on the life of Picasso.
As reported by TV Line on Wednesday, season 2 of Genius will follow Picasso's life and career, in a clear departure from the science-based focus of season 1 and Einstein. Howard said that "hours and hours and hours of discussion and debate" preceded the selection of Picasso for the new season. He described Picasso as "an enigmatic figure, famous, a household name," but despite that, "you don’t really know the story of his life, or what inspired him, drove him, troubled him."
The season will follow how Picasso "achieved such artistic greatness in so many different ways and modalities, and over so many years.” Showrunner Ken Biller explained why Picasso was ultimately an easy choice when thinking of monumental figures who changed the world in ways that few have in history:
“What we were looking for, as we had with Albert Einstein, was someone who saw the world in a completely different way. It was important for us, in terms of the proof of concept for the show, to make a declarative statement that said, ‘Genius is not only about scientists.’ And when you think about the iconic figures in history who have really changed the way we see the world, who were striving for goals that other people [hadn't] even thought to set, Pablo Picasso immediately came to mind.”
Picasso's name is practically synonymous with fine art. He founded the popular Cubism movement, produced thousands of works over his lifetime, and earned his place as perhaps the most influential artist of the 20th century. Most would agree that he's also synonymous with the word "genius" and a perfectly mysterious figure that will be fascinating for season 2 of Genius to explore.
It's unclear where NatGeo will turn to find the information it will need about Picasso's life to tell his story as effectively as it did with Einstein in season 1, which was largely based on Walter Isaacson's Einstein: His Life and Universe. Season 2 of Genius will certainly present fresh challenges for NatGeo, but there aren't many more brilliant or iconic figures they could have chosen for its subject.
Genius season 2 is expected to begin filming later this year and premiere in 2018 on National Geographic.
Source: TV Line