How Oprah’s ‘Greenleaf’ exposes flaws of Christianity

Photo Credit: Bernard Smalls for OWN
Photo credit: Bernard Smalls for OWN

Striving for excellence isn’t always a bad thing. After all, doing your best is part of the Christian life. And while many have associated the term “perfection” with the age-old religion, the fact of the matter is, just because someone is Christian, doesn’t mean they’re perfect. Enter Oprah Winfrey, who recently revealed she’s returning to acting with OWN’s first scripted series, “Greenleaf,” surrounding the flawed Greenleaf family and their megachurch in Memphis. Faced with the mysterious death of her sister, Faith, estranged daughter and disillusioned preacher Grace “Gigi” Greenleaf (Merle Dandridge) returns home after two decades where she and her kinfolk are forced to battle their inner demons.

As for what you can expect, the show is said to be filled to the brim with melodrama, religious corruption, family rivalry, infidelity, incest, suicide and homosexuality. Winfrey takes on the role of Aunt Mavis, an outsider and the keeper of the secrets, who enlists the help of “Gigi,” to unmask the sinners and uncover their dirty little secrets.

While we anticipate Winfrey may receive some push back from the Black community over the show’s undertones, the project, which she conceived with former minister Craig Wright, (“Lost,” “Six Feet Under”) and Clement Virgo (“The Book of Negroes”) is close to her heart. “Being able to do this series is a dream come true for me,” Winfrey said told a lively crowd on Wednesday, April 20, at the Tribeca Film Festival. “When I started this network five years ago, the narrative for OWN was ‘struggling, struggling, struggling.’

“I do everything from the point of view of intention, and the intention in all of my work is to raise consciousness and lift people up,” Winfrey added. “I am not gonna do anything that is derogatory toward the church because I am of the church.”

As for why the 62-year-old has chosen to focus on such a controversial topic, she said, “The church is such a powerful institution in the African American community and, I thought, a bedrock for storytelling and for sinning and for learning how to forgive and to overcome your flaws and faults and all that. So it’s just a beautiful platform.”

Overall, Winfrey hopes to “lift the consciousness,” by giving viewers something different. “All of my work is about the same thing,” she said. “It’s about showing people new ways of seeing themselves, and seeing the problems and flaws and dysfunctions that we all have, and shining a little light on that.”

“Greenleaf” premieres over two nights on June 21-22 at 10 p.m. EST on OWN. Will you be watching? Sound off in the comment section below.

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