Lynn Whitfield Opens Up About OWN’s ‘Greenleaf’ Cancellation and Spinoff

The announcement that the Oprah Winfrey-produced church drama Greenleaf on OWN will end after its fifth season both devastated and confused longtime fans. But viewers received a glimmer of hope when OWN announced a spinoff. Lynn Whitfield, who plays the Greenleaf family matriarch, has spoken out about why she feels the spinoff is important.

'Greenleaf' cast
‘Greenleaf’ cast via Twitter

OWN announces the final season of ‘Greenleaf’ and spinoff

Shortly after releasing the official full-length trailer for season 5 of OWN’s Greenleaf, the network announced it will be the show’s final season. Season 5 promised to bring the Greenleaf family’s fight to maintain their church to an end, while also answering questions that have lingered for much of the series.

Source: YouTube

TVLine explained that low ratings led to the decision to end the series. While the show maintained an average of 1.1 million viewers per episode and was the No. 1 scripted series on basic cable among Black viewers, ratings between seasons 3 and 4 dropped 15 percent.

Fans express their disappointment over ‘Greenleaf’ cancellation

Greenleaf fans were outraged about the cancellation. The show was one of the most popular original scripted series for OWN and was a hit among critics as well. Throughout its run, Greenleaf earned 10 NAACP Image Award nominations, including in the categories of Outstanding Drama and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama, which Whitfield won in 2019 and 2020.

“Wait! Greenleaf is cancelled?!” wrote one fan on Twitter with an accompanying video of Mo’Nique saying, “Now, you done pissed me off.”

Another commented on Twitter: “I am truly disappointed that #Greenleaf will be ending after this season. How does an award winning show get cancelled? One of the greatest shows ever!!! Wow.”

Lynn Whitfield says OWN created a spinoff because of the fan reaction to the show’s cancellation 

After days of the fan outcry, OWN announced a spinoff was in the works. “OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network is in development with Lionsgate on a spinoff of the network’s critically-acclaimed hit megachurch drama Greenleaf from award-winning creator and executive producer Craig Wright,” an OWN press release said.

Whitfield recently spoke to Bevy Smith on her popular Bevelations podcast about the show’s end. She said fan support helped to drive the spinoff. Still, she’s unsure of what the spinoff will focus on and said the network is still trying to sort things through.

“I don’t think they [the network] even know what it is, you know?” Whitfield said. “I think they are figuring it out. I think the cry from the fans that they hadn’t had enough [is what drove a spinoff].”

She also explained that in an era of reality television, viewers are hungry for more content of substance.

Cast of 'Greenleaf'
Cast of ‘Greenleaf’ via Twitter

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“I think they [the network] are realizing that this world is so provocative, and it’s such important subject matter to all audiences — because it’s [Greenleaf] is universal in that you always have to take a second look at power,” Whitfield continued. “You need to evaluate who you are following, and we all need to understand that following any man can bring disappointment of some sorts.”

Whitfield does believe the spinoff will revolve around a continuation of however the current season of Greenleaf ends. Greenleaf airs at 9 p.m. EST Tuesdays on OWN.