Greenleaf – My Eyes Have Seen the Light

On a whim, I decided to watch the first season of Greenleaf on Netflix. That turned out to be one of my better decisions this week. I ended up binging the entire first season, plus the first half of season two in a day and a half. This show is amazing.

I’d been meaning to watch Greenleaf for a while because Keith David is in it. Come on, now- need I have a better reason? Unfortunately, I was a little hesitant; I was afraid it was going to be over-the-top like the Tyler Perry soaps on OWN or preachy like . . . well, like Tyler Perry movies. I was pleasantly surprised (and happy) that it wasn’t. No offense to fans of Tyler Perry’s shows and movies. The Haves and the Have Nots has some entertaining moments and Daddy’s Girls had Idris Elba.

Anyway, I turned on Greenleaf with the intention of watching one episode and was immediately pulled in. Well-written with great acting, Greenleaf is an all-around fantastic show. With an ensemble cast that stars Merle Dandridge, and features Keith David and Lynn Whitfield, how could one expect anything less?

The show is about the less-than-perfect Greenleaf family and their lives in and out of their megachurch, Calvary Fellowship, in Memphis. They jump right out the box exploring storylines that are rarely/never discussed on shows featuring black families: suicide, child molestation, confusion about homosexuality. These are subjects that many are dealing with in the black community, and Greenleaf puts it out there for us all to face. They pull no punches with the subject matter and they follow through; that’s what I love about this show. The stories started in the first season and have continued into season two, but they don’t feel dragged out. It actually seems like the perfect pace to tell these stories.

Secrets and lies go hand in hand with prayer and the gospel in the Greenleaf family and at Calvary Fellowship. This is a powerful family; their name carries a lot of clout in Memphis and all of Tennessee. It’s a wonderful thing seeing a rich and powerful black family on TV, that didn’t make rise to the top by selling drugs to their own people. Now, I’m not saying there isn’t a little blood money lining the coffers of Calvary Fellowship. They lie, cheat and commit crimes like . . . like I never expected to happen in a family of pastors. Wow, they are just like regular people. I’m guessing they give themselves a pass because they’re God-fearing church people.

Grace Greenleaf (Dandridge), the prodigal daughter returns home after being absent for 20 years, one would think some heavy shi . . . stuff would have to have happened to drive a person away for two decades. Heavy it was. Grace was a beloved pastor at Calvary Fellowship, but events from the past and present have left her calling and her beliefs. She’s lost from her flock and has no idea how to get back or if she really wants to return. Grace is a very flawed and complex woman. She’s driven to right the wrongs of the past and present, but blinded by the need for justice and revenge. I won’t mention the cause of Grace’s angst, because that would spoil the show. It’s not too far into the season two to catch up and find out for yourself.

Keith David and Lynn Whitfield give powerful performances as Grace’s parents Bishop James and First Lady Mae. These two are not to be trifled with; especially Lady Mae. She is a true bitch. But let me tell you, she is one of the best bitches on TV.

Gregory Alan Williams is masterful as the horribly awful Robert “Mac” McCready; Lady Mae’s brother. I wish I didn’t want this character dead, because Mr. Williams’ performance as this sick reprobate is phenomenal. Jason Dirden kills it as the rival and thorn in Bishop James’ side, Pastor Basie Skanks. Let me not forget Oprah Winfrey as Mac and Lady Mae’s sister Mavis, and the wonderful Bill Cobb as their creepy ass father.

You can’t have a show about a black church without some great gospel music. Deborah Joy Winans delivers on a regular basis. Plus Mary Mary and Kirk Franklin have made guests appearances. Did you know Keith David could sing? I didn’t, but it was a pleasant surprise. When Bishop James broke into a little song during his sermon, it made feel like I was a little girl back at my grandmother’s church.

Did I mention this is a great show? There were a couple potential storylines and minor characters that were dropped between seasons one and two, but unlike the disappearance of Calvin on Queen Sugar, it didn’t throw me off or disrupt the flow of the story.

The most disappointing thing about Greenleaf was finishing up the most recent episode on demand and trying to watch the next two on and realizing they haven’t aired yet. 🙁 But they’re coming on Tuesday (8/15/17) and Wednesday (8/16/17) – Hallelujah!

Look- if you’re looking for good drama, a show with a loving black family with some issues, great acting and the chance to watch Keith David and Lynn Whitfield bring it on the regular, Greenleaf is the show for you. Get on Netflix, On Demand and/or as soon as possible. If you’re already watching it, good on you and I’ll see you Twitter.

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