Stars of OWN’s Greenleaf guide you through watching the show for first time
With a sprawling cast of characters going through endless ups and downs in its five seasons, Greenleaf might feel daunting to begin for a first-time viewer. But lucky for you, the stars of the OWN drama are here to break down what they think are the most essential, can't-miss episodes for EW's Quick Binge as part of EW's Fandom Week.
Of course, the pilot is a great starting point, says Merle Dandridge in the exclusive video above. It introduces viewers to her character, protagonist Grace Greenleaf, as she returns home to Memphis after 20 years and reenters the world of the megachurch run by her family, who aren't all as virtuous as they seem.
"It's full of really great cinematography, acting and storytelling. It sets the groundwork for a very turbulent journey that you go on," Dandridge says.
And let's not forget another selling point — "great big Oprah hugs," Dandridge adds. Winfrey, who leads the network and executive produces the show, also portrays Grace's favorite aunt Mavis.
Throughout the series, Grace's path has been full of turmoil. Season 2's third installment even finds her taking a bat to someone's car while she's dangerously unraveling, Dandridge points out.
But if you're searching for less discord and more harmony, the actress recommends season 4's fourth episode which features Grace finding her footing with her family and with stepping into the pulpit.
"It's a time when the Greenleafs are starting to ride together and they're banding together instead of constantly being at odds with each other," Dandridge says. "You see a glimpse of [Grace] stepping into her God-given calling on her life in the pulpit. You get to see her unleash that gift a little bit in her rise-up sermon. It was a great way to revisit something that she had to leave behind and dump against her will when she was younger and a child prodigy, so that now she can do it on her terms and choose how far she wants to go with it as an adult."
Greenleaf's fifth and final season premiered June 23 and will conclude Aug. 11. Watch the full video to see what episodes Keith David (Bishop James Greenleaf) and Deborah Joy Winans (Charity Greenleaf) recommend for their characters' arcs.
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