Netflix Review: Greenleaf by Nabeela Khalid

Can I start by saying I am such a Netflix addict. There I said it, it’s out there. Other mums ask me how I find the time, I make time friends. Ok I joke but in reality, I actually just go round my house with headphones and Netflix playing on my phone.  

Recently I watched Greenleaf, which I loved. It’s about a religious family who own a mega church in Memphis, USA. They live in a mansion, picture in your mind, South Fork in Dallas (sorry if you are a certain age and don’t know what that is) with the whole family all living together. Bishop James Greenleaf and his wife lady Mae live with their son, his family, their youngest daughter and her husband. It’s pretty much like, the Ewing family but with religion thrown in. 

Happiness isn’t the absence of sadness. It’s living and it’s being in the mystery and the adventure of this life in God’s world with others, with God.
— Bishop James

We join them were, having stayed away for years, Grace Greenleaf, their second daughter, returns, following the death of her older sister Faith.  Her return sees a chain of events unfold that affect the whole family. We soon see how greed, corruption, deceit and infidelity can engulf a family.   

As soon as Lady Mae, Grace’s mother sees her, the war between them starts as she says to her “Promise me you’re not here to sow discord in the fields of my peace,”. The script is so good and catches your attention from the very beginning with each character having their own little story. Lady Mae’s sayings are dotted in every episode and they are so powerful. The dialogue is written beautifully with lots of religious references. Nearly every scene ended with the saying ‘God is good’ with the reply ‘all the time’, by the way you will only say it in that southern accent after watching.  

The thing that got me interested in Greenleaf was the fact that Oprah Winfrey was acting in it. Although it turned out Oprah’s role was very minor, by that point I was already gripped. The mind behind Greenleaf, Craig Wright, is a former minister himself and it’s his expertise that makes the drama so real.  

The poor thing can’t resist a chance to be rude. She thinks it makes her interesting. And, I daresay, it nearly does.
— Lady Mae

It’s a gripping drama but I loved it for a host of other reasons that will no doubt come as a surprise. The Church was the central theme and every angle of the story included bible teachings and sayings. What made it interesting for me was I could relate on every level as a Muslim to this Christian church.  Crazy right?! 

It honestly was as if I was watching a mirrored reflection of how these ultra-religious and powerful families operate, be they Christian or Muslim. We all have them, know them or at least have heard of them. For us, it’s those powerful families that control Mosques or seem to have access to vast wealth, under the cover of our faith. They seem to have control of limitless funds and like the Greenleaf family, take full advantage of their positions, while preaching to others about being humble.  

The more I watched, the more I was amazed by just how many similarities there were. Here was Bishop James Greenleaf, a preacher and father trying to serve his community with a wife who likes the finer things in life. She was horrified when she realised that she may have to the fly economy class and not on the private jet, she was accustomed to.  The private jet is obviously paid for by the generous contributions from the churches flock as they call them. First class is definitely the preferred way to travel for these families. I remember boarding a flight with the wife of a prominent Imam, she hesitated a little, as she took her first class seat as I watched on. When we reached our destination, a private car was waiting on the runway to pick her up.  I must admit I was envious as I stood in the long que to get into the airport terminal. 

So many of the scandals on Greenleaf were relatable, including among other things, adultery and greed.  I could go on about the parallels between us and yes, they both work hard to serve their communities. They do help people but ultimately their positions, the power they have, makes them money hungry and greedy. As much as media in this age, tries to play on our religious differences, we really are exactly the same. The only difference is our religion.  

I don’t know where the pride ends and the weakness begins.
— Grace

This quote from Grace really summed things up perfectly, “I guess I believe there’s a part of everything that tries. Plants try to grow; animals try to survive. People try to better themselves to get ahead. Everything tries to do something. Christianity is just one way that the trying part of people tries to connect with the trying part of everything else.”.  

I guess that applies to all of us, we are trying.  Greenleaf is definitely one of Netflix’s all-time best dramas. Here is the trailer to the first season. Trust me you will be hooked!

Have you seen it? Let us know in the comments! 



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