“Franklin” review: American man about town | WORLD
Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate


TELEVISION | Series about a Founding Father’s diplomacy in France fixates on romantic liaisons

Rémy Grandroques / Apple TV+

You have {{ remainingArticles }} free {{ counterWords }} remaining. You've read all of your free articles.

Full access isn’t far.

We can’t release more of our sound journalism without a subscription, but we can make it easy for you to come aboard.

Get started for as low as $3.99 per month.

Current WORLD subscribers can log in to access content. Just go to "SIGN IN" at the top right.


Already a member? Sign in.

Rated TV-MA
Apple TV+

Behind France’s involvement in America’s War for Independence was an unlikely diplomat: Benjamin Franklin. Apple TV’s Franklin recounts his diplomatic venture to gain military aid, punctuated with iconic figures like Marie Antoinette and John Adams. But the series focuses more on romantic liaisons than political intrigues.

Based on Stacy Schiff’s nonfiction book A Great Improvisation, the story begins with Franklin (Michael Douglas) and his grandson Temple (Noah Jupe) arriving in Paris. They quickly realize that the French government isn’t too keen on the expense of war. While the diplomats wait out France’s indifference at the home of financier Chaumont (Olivier Claveri), scores of adoring fans make sure the visitors aren’t bored.

The show has a TV-MA ­rating for language and some violence. There’s plenty of innuendo and one vignette where a couple is seen from a distance having sex. A cross-dressing character named Chevalier d’Éon shows up for about two minutes of screen time. D’Éon was a historical figure, but his cameo seems like an agenda-driven tangent.

Douglas portrays Franklin as shrewd, but casually so, serving up bon mots as he plays the French at their own game. Mostly, though, he relaxes and enjoys the view. But grandson Temple wants to be seen as an alpha male, so he surrounds himself with women, and the show fixates on Temple’s sexual awakening.

Franklin aptly foreshadows France’s own revolution, depicting the aristocracy’s obsession with the finer things. But when it comes to the American Revolution, the series fails to deliver a sense of the high stakes of Franklin’s enterprise.

Bekah McCallum

Bekah is a reviewer, reporter, and editorial assistant at WORLD. She is a graduate of World Journalism Institute and Anderson University.


Please wait while we load the latest comments...