Greenleaf is an American television drama series, created by Craig Wright, and executive produced by Oprah Winfrey and Lionsgate Television. Clement Virgo also serves as an executive producer and director. Greenleaf premiered on the Oprah Winfrey Network on June 21, 2016.[2]

Greenleaf follows the unscrupulous world of the Greenleaf family with scandalous secrets and lies, and their sprawling Memphis megachurch with predominantly African-American members. The series is headed by Keith David as Bishop James Greenleaf, and Lynn Whitfield as his wife and matriarch of the family, Lady Mae Greenleaf. Merle Dandridge plays the series' protagonist, Grace Greenleaf, their estranged daughter who has returned home after 20 years following the mysterious death of her sister, Faith.

Greenleaf has received positive reviews from critics, with most praising Dandridge, Whitfield and David's performances.[3][4] The series premiere drew 3.04 million viewers, making it the No. 1 series debut in OWN history.[5][6] On April 21, 2016, the series was renewed for a second season ahead of television premiere.[7][8]

Production

Development

On July 30, 2015, it was announced that Oprah Winfrey Network ordered straight-to-series new scripted drama Greenleaf about powerful African-American dynasty of the Greenleaf family and their sprawling megachurch in Memphis, Tennessee.[9][10][2] After Ava DuVernay's Queen Sugar production, it's making Greenleaf the second scripted drama on the network that is not from Tyler Perry.[12] The series was created by Lost and Six Feet Under writer Craig Wright and executive produced by Oprah Winfrey with Wright and Lionsgate Television.13-episodes for first season set for production later in 2015.[10] On September 9, 2015, The Book of Negroes writer and director Clement Virgo joined the series as executive producer and director of the pilot episode.[2]

Filming of the first season began in October, 2015 in Atlanta,[2] and ended on March 24, 2016.[2] On January 21, 2016, it was announced that series will debut with a two-night premiere at 10pm Tuesday, May 24, 2016 and 10pm Wednesday, May 25, and will regularly air on Wednesdays at 10pm.[2] Later premiere was moved to June 21, 2016 and June 22, 2016.[2] The world premiere of Greenleaf will be during Tribeca Film Festival in April, before television debut in June 2016.[2][2][2]

Casting

Casting advertising began in August 2015. On August 24, 2015, it was announced that Lynn Whitfield, Merle Dandridge and Desiree Ross are the first actors cast in series.[21] Emmy Award winner Whitfield will star as Lady Mae Greenleaf, Bishop Greenleaf’s wife, steely and power and money hungry matriarch of the family, while Dandridge play her estranged daughter who returns to home with her teenage daughter (played by Ross).[21] On September 3, 2015, Keith David was cast in the leading role of Bishop James Greenleaf, the family patriarch and leader of Greenleaf World Ministries.[22] On September 4, 2015 Tye White has been cast as son-in-law of the Bishop.[23] On September 9, 2015, Lamman Rucker, Kim Hawthorne and Deborah Joy Winans have landed the last three regular roles.[24] Rucker plays eldest son, while Hawthorne stars as his controlling wife. Winans plays the youngest daughter of the Bishop.[25]

On September 24, 2015, it was announced that series' executive producer Oprah Winfrey joined Greenleaf in a recurring role as Mavis McCready, the sister of Lady Mae Greenleaf.[26][27] Whitfield and Winfrey previous co-starred in the 1989 miniseries The Women of Brewster Place. On November 20, 2015 Anna Diop was cast as a teacher who is engaged to Greenleaf Estate’s manager.[28] Three days later, it was announced that Terri J. Vaughn will recurs as chief housekeeper at Greenleaf mansion.[29]

Cast and characters

Lynn Whitfield and Keith David play main roles

Regular cast

  • Keith David as Bishop James Greenleaf, charismatic and manipulative leader of Greenleaf World Ministries
  • Lynn Whitfield as Lady Mae Greenleaf, Bishop Greenleaf’s wife and family matriarch
  • Merle Dandridge as Grace 'Gigi' Greenleaf, Mae and Bishop's middle daughter who returns to home 20 years after escaping from family
  • Desiree Ross as Sophia Greenleaf, Grace’s teenage daughter
  • Lamman Rucker as Jacob Greenleaf, the eldest, ne’er-do-well son of the Bishop
  • Kim Hawthorne as Kerissa Greenleaf, Jacob’s ambitious and controlling wife
  • Deborah Joy Winans as Charity Greenleaf-Satterlee, the youngest daughter of the Bishop and also Minister of Music
  • Tye White as Kevin Satterlee, Charity's husband

Recurring cast

  • Oprah Winfrey as Mavis McCready, Lady Mae's sister and a close confidant of Grace; also a blues club owner
  • Gregory Alan Williams as Robert 'Mac' McCready, Lady Mae's brother
  • Lovie Simone as Zora Greenleaf, Kerissa and Jacob's teenage daughter
  • Terri J. Vaughn as Melisse, the chief at Greenleaf mansion
  • Benjamin Patterson as Noah Kendall, Greenleaf Estate’s manager and Gigi's ex
  • Anna Diop as Isabel, a teacher who is engaged to Greenleaf Estate’s manager, Noah Kendall
  • Kristin Erickson as Alexa Campbell, Jacob's mistress
  • Terri Abney as Faith Greenleaf, Mae and Bishop's daughter, who dies before first episode
  • Gary Weeks as Adrian Miller
  • Jen Harper as Deacon Connie Sykes
  • Roxzane T. Mims as Darlene, the secretary
  • Parnell Damone Marcano as Carlton Cruise
  • Avis-Marie Barnes as Misty Williams
  • L. Warren Young as Fred Williams
  • Carlacia Grant as Danielle Turner
  • Deji LaRay as David Nelson
  • Xavier Charles as Morris Davis
  • Zachary S. Williams as William
  • Tian Richards as Antoine Adams

Reception

The first season of Greenleaf has received positive reviews from critics,[3] particularly praised acting performances of series lead actress Merle Dandridge, and well as Lynn Whitfield and Keith David.[30] On Rotten Tomatoes, has a rating of 78%, based on 18 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10.[4] The site consensus: "Immersed in a unique megachurch setting, Greenleaf is a juicy family soap bolstered by a provocative spirituality."[4] Metacritic gave season one of the show a score of 68 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[3]

Maureen Ryan, television critic for Variety stated "Dandridge is naturalistic in her portrayal of a practical, cautious woman re-examining her family history and her own choices and mistakes, while Whitfield has the imperious aura of a grand soap opera diva in the tradition of Joan Collins."[30] Daniel Fienberg from The Hollywood Reporter wrote in his review "effectively balance the melodrama, vast ensemble and church details and contribute a level of technical proficiency that goes far beyond what the Tyler Perry Factory brings to The Haves and the Have Nots, OWN's big scripted hit."[31] The Boston Globe's Matthew Gilbert compared Greenleaf with primetime soaps like Revenge and the similarly black-cast Empire.[32]

Episodes

Each episode's closing credits sequence features a unique piece of previously recorded music.

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
1"A Time to Heal"Clement VirgoCraig WrightJune 21, 2016 (2016-06-21)3.04[33]

Journalist Grace "Gigi" Greenleaf returns to her family in Memphis after suspicious death of her sister Faith. Her cold mother Lady Mae not happy about Gigi's return to home, like other family's members.

End credits: "Satan, We're Gonna Tear Your Kingdom Down" by Shirley Caesar
2"The Baptism"[34]Donna DietchCraig WrightJune 22, 2016 (2016-06-22)1.93[35]

Gigi stays in Memphis for investigate the death of her sister and began working in Greenleaf World Ministries.

End credits: "Somebody Was Watching" by Pops Staples
3"We Shall See Him As He Is"[34]Charles Stone IIIArt AlamoJune 22, 2016 (2016-06-22)2.05[35]

Gigi continues her inquiry into her uncle's latest misconduct. The Bishop faces new political pressure. Sophia falls in with a bad crowd. Kevin and Charity learn she is pregnant.

End credits: "Get Your House In Order" by Dottie Peoples
4"Behind Closed Doors"[34]TBATBAJune 29, 2016 (2016-06-29)1.88[36]
End credits: "Every Step" by Mavis Staples
5"Meaningful Survival"[34]TBATBAJuly 6, 2016 (2016-07-06)TBD
6"Good Morning, Calvary"[34]TBATBAJuly 13, 2016 (2016-07-13)TBD
7"One Train May Hide Another"[34]TBATBAJuly 20, 2016 (2016-07-20)TBD
8"The Whole Book"[34]TBATBAJuly 27, 2016 (2016-07-27)TBD
9TBATBATBATBATBD
10"March to the Sea"[37]TBATBATBATBD
11TBATBATBATBATBD
12TBATBATBATBATBD
13TBATBATBAAugust 31, 2016 (2016-08-31)TBD