Kristin Smith

TV Series Review

Grace Greenleaf used to be a legend. Daughter to Calvary megachurch pastors Bishop James and Lady Mae Greenleaf, Grace was a walking sermon, loved by all who had the opportunity to hear her.

But Grace’s faith took a heavy hit when she was nearly raped, and when she learned that her uncle Mac, a deacon in the church, molested and raped her younger sister, Faith. Instead of confessing all, Uncle Mac denied the accusations and buried them far away from the public eye. After all, scandal doesn’t settle well in the church.

Confused and betrayed by the very people they were raised to trust, Grace moved from Memphis, Tennessee across the country to Arizona to escape, while Faith turned to … well, self-medication. However, distance and drugs can only do so much before the demons of your past come creeping back.

Twenty years later, Grace receives a phone call with news that Faith has committed suicide. Now, Grace must return to Greenleaf Manor to face each of her family members. But if she wants the real details of Faith’s death, those her family is trying to bury, she’ll have to confront the life she so desperately wants to leave behind.

All the Sins at Hope and Harmony

If you’re looking for a steamy drama with endless scandal and lies–all in a church setting–Greenleaf is the show for you. Airing on the Oprah Winfrey Network beginning in 2016 Greenleaf is now in its fifth season. And while Grace is still working on family issues back in Greenleaf Manor, a lot has changed.

Grace is raising her now adult daughter, Sophia, who’s juggling her own romantic relationships, and her adult son, AJ, who has recently returned from a stint in prison. She’s also grieving the loss of her position as interim pastor at Calvary church. And although she’s no longer in the ministry, she’s hoping to uncover some ugly details from the money-hungry corporation that bought out Calvary, and changed its name to Harmony and Hope.

Her parents, Bishop James and Lady Mae are no longer on staff and have plenty of their own issues…like deciding if they love each other enough to stay married.

And if that doesn’t sound like enough drama, don’t worry, the entire family still lives in the same manor.

Grace’s brother, Jacob, a former pastor at Harmony and Hope is married to vindictive wife, Kerissa, but the two are working out the details of a secret divorce as they both carry on with extramarital affairs.

Charity, Grace’s youngest sister, is trying to co-parent with her gay ex-husband, Kevin, while recovering from her own past drug addiction. Oh, and she’s now the associate pastor at her family’s former church—a job she’s always wanted and had to backstab plenty to get.

There’s Always More Where That Came From

The thing about Greenleaf is that it’s filled with some pretty heavy content.

God is supposed to be front and center in the Greenleafs’ lives, but religion is instead used as a tool to deceive and manipulate more than it is to bring about actual healthy relationship. In fact, I’m not so sure any of characters here really know much about God at all. There’s mention of the prosperity gospel. There’s talk about Jesus and the Holy Spirit. But if a real relationship with God does exist, you wouldn’t know it from looking at anyone’s life.

Perhaps a few are searching for truth, and maybe they’ll find it, but it will be hard to see buried beneath years of sex scandals, drug use, extortion and dark family secrets.

Episode Reviews

June 23, 2020: “The First Day”

Charity can’t decide if she wants to continue with her job as associate pastor at Harmony and Hope. Grace uncovers a few dark secrets and hides crucial information from the police. Bishop James and Lady Mae get remarried. Jacob and Kerissa work out the messy details of their upcoming divorce.

A young man lies to the police about committing a crime. This same young man later attempts suicide after hearing that an innocent man was killed in a shoot-out (we see his slit wrists and blood covering the floor).

Kerissa tells Jacob that she has chlamydia, a venereal disease. Both Jacob and Kerissa mention their extramarital affairs. An angry ex-girlfriend tells her former boyfriend that she would have had an abortion if she became pregnant with his child. A young woman wears a top that shows her stomach and a short skirt. A couple kisses and a young woman is called a “skank.”

Lady Mae makes various rude comments to Charity and brags about fasting to “hear the voice of God.” Church officials participate in blackmail and other scandals. A pastor plans to marry a woman only to secure his title within the church.

God’s name is misused once, and the s-word is heard once as well. “H—” is uttered once and a woman is called a “hoe.”

Sept. 3, 2019: “Original Sin”

Grace Greenleaf steps in as interim pastor of Calvary church after Calvary is purchased by an outside corporation, Harmony and Hope. Grace’s brother, Jacob Greenleaf, and her sister, Charity, beg Grace to make them associate pastors.

Grace learns that her father is not really her biological father. A woman wears a cleavage-baring top. An elderly man and woman make a crude sex joke. A teen girl suggests she could become a “love coach” for an older, attractive male. An elderly woman wears a silky nightgown and her ex-husband asks her to have sex. (She turns him down.) Reverend Grace Greenleaf tells a friend that he and his partner are welcome at her inclusive church.

A few people talk about “hearing from God,” “God’s will” and “God’s favor.” Corrupt church leaders flaunt their power and deceive their congregation into donating more money to the church. Family members yell and argue.

Men and women consume hard liquor and wine. A girlfriend admits that her boyfriend was arrested for having a high blood alcohol content. The words “a–” and “d–n” are each heard a few times.

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Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).

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