A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Greenleaf is a serial drama that centers on the culture of a family deeply rooted in a local megachurch. It features strong themes, including sexual molestation, suicide, and infidelity. Teen drug use is sometimes visible, and wine is frequently consumed. There are arguments, and words such as "ass" and "damn" are audible. Race-related issues, ranging from stereotypes to the recognition of violence against African-American youth, are also addressed. It's not intended for younger viewers.
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What's the story?
Executive-produced by Oprah Winfrey, GREENLEAF stars Merle Dandridge as Grace Greenleaf, the estranged daughter of Bishop James Greenleaf (Keith David) and former child preacher of Calvary, a megachurch in Memphis, Tennessee. When she returns home with her daughter Sophie (Desiree Ross) after a 20-year absence to deal with the aftermath of her sister Faith's (Terri Abney) suicide, she realizes that she must confront the demons that originally made her leave, including exposing the crimes of her Uncle Mac (Gregory Alan Williams). Meanwhile, her sister Charity (Deborah Joy Winans) and her sister-in-law Kerissa (Kim Hawthorne) make it clear that she's not wanted, while her brother and junior pastor Jacob (Lamman Rucker) attempts to cope with the pressures of living under his father's shadow by seeking the company of other women. As her mother, Lady Mae (Lynn Whitfield) works hard to sweep the family's secrets under the rug, Grace turns to her Aunt Mavis (played by Winfrey), a local club owner and family pariah, for help and support.
Is it any good?
This entertainingly emotional drama contains all the guilty pleasures one looks for in a nighttime soap opera, ranging from illicit romance to fights for power within a complex family. It also highlights aspects of the megachurch culture, including the opulent lifestyles of their leaders, the church's beneficial tax-exemption status, race-related issues, and show-like sermons.
Some of show's darker themes, including sexual molestation, teen drug use, and suicide -- all of which have long been considered taboo subjects in many church communities -- add to the show's intensity. Nonetheless, many of the plots are predictable, and some of the characters lack dimension. But there's enough turmoil here to interest serial-drama fans looking for a new story to sink their teeth into.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about family, community, and how they intersect. How is your family supported by groups you belong to?
Families can also talk about megachurch culture. How does it bring people together? Are there any problems with the messages some of these churches send?