‘Unprecedented’ on Discovery+: Why Alex Holder doc is a bust

Don’t expect any bombshells in “Unprecedented,” the new Discovery+ docuseries that chronicles then-President Trump and his family during their campaign to win the 2020 election — and their desperate efforts to contest the results when he lost.

The three-part series, which boasts exclusive access to the Trumps and then-Vice President Mike Pence, has been hotly anticipated since last month, when filmmaker Alex Holder was subpoenaed and interviewed by the Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The production enjoyed unprecedented hype for a new series on a streamer best known for home improvement shows, the “Barefoot Contessa” catalog and other reality TV. News of the docuseries landed on the public radar after the committee requested footage from Holder “pertaining to discussions of election fraud or election integrity.”

Sunday’s premiere proved that the series has nothing on the hearings, and Discovery+’s marketing of “Unprecedented” as a new source of revelatory information about the Trump White House around the Capitol attack wasn’t entirely honest. Holder’s film crew was not with the Trump family on the day of the attack — as many speculated was the case — and folks who’ve watched the hearings or followed the news won’t learn anything new about the Trump family’s alleged involvement in Big Lie conspiracies or the violent coup attempt.

But that doesn’t mean that “Unprecedented” is necessarily a waste of time. It’s all about the family in this three-hour doc, from the alarmingly dynastic approach of our 45th president to how the Trumps treated the presidency as an opportunity to expand the family business. Exclusive interviews and access on the campaign trail with Trump and his children Don Jr., Ivanka and Eric highlight the individual roles they’ve played in securing their father’s power and influence. Also interviewed are son-in-law Jared Kushner and Pence, though they don’t provide much added value.

A host of experts, including journalists Peter Baker of the New York Times and Marc Fisher of the Washington Post, provide context for the fly-on-the-wall narrative, discussing everything from the administration grappling with COVID-19 surges to its inconsistent messages on the 2020 vote count depending on whether Trump was ahead or behind in a given state.

Questions about why and how the president’s people allowed a film crew to document the campaign and the White House so closely in its final days are still unanswered, although the best guess seems to be hubris.

It’s apparent while watching “Unprecedented” that the president and his clan had drunk their own Kool-Aid in 2020 and were convinced that Trump would pull off another win despite his low approval ratings. They were cheered on by ardent followers at rallies across the nation, and the enthusiasm was contagious. Victory appeared a forgone conclusion when there was no voice of opposition to tell the Trumps otherwise.

Holder, a Brit and a first-time director, already sat for a two-hour interview with the committee’s investigators; this week, he’ll answer questions from officials in Fulton County, Ga., regarding their investigation into Trump’s efforts to change the state’s 2020 election results.

It’s telling that some of the most intriguing material associated with “Unprecedented” didn’t make it into the final film — though it was included in the Jan 6. committee’s request for footage. Holder has alluded to one of those unused clips being an Air Force One interview with Trump that was canceled because of an unscheduled phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. We’ll have to wait and see if more on that moment comes out of the committee or reporting on its work. Because while there’s plenty more to chew on in the docuseries, especially for those interested in Trump family dynamics, it pales in comparison to the hearings’ must-see TV.



Where: Discovery+
When: Any time, starting July 10

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