HOLLYWOOD—Hmm, it’s always an interesting dynamic to see the world of television dive into the realm of religion and the inner workings of the church. The new OWN series, “Greenleaf”, has an all-star cast including Lynn Whitfield, Keith David, and the queen herself Oprah to say the least.
The drama which is the creation of the man behind the HBO hit “Six Feet Under,” revolves around the Greenleaf family, led by Bishop James Greenleaf (Keith David) who operates a massive church in the Memphis, Tennessee region. By James’ side is his wife Lady Mae portrayed with such delicious evil by Whitfield.
However, what works so well for this new series is the character Grace (Merle Dandridge) who brings such ferocity, vulnerability and flaws to a character that will leave viewers entangled with this family that totes their Bible, but are holding onto many more secrets than one can imagine. The episode opened with Grace returning to her original stomping grounds with her daughter Sofia in tow.
So what brings Grace back home? The death of her sister Faith! It looks like Noah (Benjamin Patterson) is an old face from the past and sparks between him and Grace are still palpable people. Hmm, looks like there is bad blood between Grace and Lady Mae that is likely to unfold in the coming weeks. However, Grace has a strong bond with her aunt Mavis (Oprah Winfrey) and I must say Winfrey is a revelation on the small screen. She feels like that ‘real’ character that you instantly adore for her truth-speaking.
The audience got a tease at other members of the Greenleaf family including Jacob (Lamman Rucker), who is always looking to please his father; just as his wife Kerissa (Kim Hawthorne) does her best to control every situation. We also have Grace’s other sister Charity (Deborah Joy Winans) who doesn’t seem too pleased to be in the company of her father, just as her hubby Kevin (Tye White) does his best to brighten spirits.
Looks like the family is a bit shocked with Grace’s growth since her departure from the family. I like this battle brewing between Grace and Kerissa. And it looks like Kerissa has a champion in Lady Mae, taking the spot of her eldest daughter Grace. I think the fact that everyone in this family is against Grace, (except her father) is what has me hooked. I want to know why; I want to know all the secrets. Charity is desperate for her father’s approval, and it appears that the Greenleaf family is more dysfunctional than I can imagine. Grace unleashed wholly hell when it became apparent that her uncle Mac (Gregory Alan Williams) may have been responsible for the death of her sister Faith. Why in the world is everyone jealous of Grace? Kerissa seems well aware that her hubby is having an affair. It’s not just the adults who are harboring secrets, so are the teens who dabble in drugs. “Greenleaf” does a stellar job of showcasing that just because a family looks intact on the outside, doesn’t mean plenty of fractures exist on the inside, this series taps into all of those facets. Not just for one character, but for MULTIPLE characters.
Charity and Kevin decided it was time to try for a child, just as Noah used Isabel (Anna Diop) as a distraction for his feelings for Grace. Looks like the one woman who holds the secrets to the inner workings of the Greenleaf clan is Mavis, and she has no trouble speaking her mind and saying what needs to be said. Particularly, what put Faith in that downward spiral? Looks like Uncle Mac has a thing for messing around with underage teens. That is a bold topic, and I mean a bold topic to tackle, but I find it interesting to see a series tackle such a heavy subject matter.
As a viewer, “Greenleaf” gives one the opportunity to connect the dots by giving little hints, like the fact that Uncle Mac may have molested Faith. Another issue I’m happy to see brought to light is the notion of the church milking funds from the American public for its own good. It’s always whispered about, but it’s a treat to see a series finally have the guts to go there.
Looks like Jacob has no trouble getting hot and heavy in God’s church with Alexia (Kristin Erickson). How in the hell can his wife not want to kill Jacob and his mistress? Looks like Grace had a spiritual awakening while hearing her father preach. I do indeed want to see how strong the bond between father and daughter really is, because it appears there is more to the story which explains why Lady Mae is so distant and critical of her eldest daughter.
The first episode culminated with Grace making it her mission to get justice for her sister, even if that means nailing her mother’s brother um, her uncle to the cross to make it happen. “Greenleaf” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on OWN. Expect a double dose on Wednesday night from at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. as two all new episodes air.