“Greenleaf” – Scripted from Reality

The short story: I love it. It’s a refreshing blast of scripted creativity that pulls us further away from the rage of reality TV.

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I was late to the game for “Greenleaf,” the new drama on the  Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).  Recently I had the pleasure of seeing Lamman Rucker at a social event.  He introduced me to his latest project, “Greenleaf,” and I decided to check it out for myself. Rucker, who plays the disappointing black sheep son, Jacob, is much more than a pretty face for the women to watch.  He is holding his own (no pun intended) next to silk-tongue Keith David (Bishop James Greenleaf) and Lynn Whitfield, who plays the fiesty first lady, Lady Mae.

The story centers around Grace Greenleaf, the prodigal daughter, played by Merle Dandridge, who I had not seen since she was in “Rent” on Broadway. At odds with her mother and envied by her siblings, she’s a daddy’s girl who is slowly making her way back home to the pulpit she left twenty years ago.

No Spoilers Here.

I’m not going to give away any plot points but suffice it to say that the writers of this show get it right with gut-level authenticity that causes this “PK” to cringe, moan, and nod during every 60 minute episode.  The scripture references and church jargon are on point. They are not dramatically overstated in that Tyler Perry kind of way. It’s not over the top Bible thumping but the message is clear. Jesus is Lord and He commands us to Love one another. Watching Greenleaf feels like going to church meeting on a Tuesday night. The obligatory piety of Sunday is gone and real people with real issues show up to work in The Kingdom because they love God in their brokenness.

“Teen drug use, unwed pregnancy, adultery, abortion, extortion, homosexuality and down right nasty dispositions flood the screen in true form.”

I always encourage Christians to support the movies and TV shows that have even a mustard seed message of Jesus so that we can get more kingdom programming.  The problem is that Greenleaf may be too real for our sanctified palates. It brings out a side of the saints that we’d rather not talk about or even think. Teen drug use, unwed pregnancy, adultery, abortion, extortion, homosexuality and down right nasty dispositions flood the screen in true form.  Nobody wants to really admit that the choir director is often gay…that the church is a business or that  the assistant Pastor might be having an affair with the church secretary. Those are all well-known secrets that we want to keep to ourselves.  Because of that notion, I’m worried that Greenleaf may not get the support of church folks that it deserves. Remember GCB?  Evangelicals were appalled at the audacious brokenness of the people in the church.

Well, I love it. That’s who we are.  We are flawed human beings who have been forgiven by Jesus and live by His grace.  I’m fairly certain this is why Bishop and Lady Mae Greenleaf named their eldest daughter as such.  Check out Grace and the Greenleaf family on OWN, Wednesdays at 10pm.

 

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