'Envy: A Seven Deadly Sins Story' Review: Serayah as Keisha shines bright in few key scenes in Lifetime drama
Serayah plays Keisha, Gabrielle's half sister who covets the life of her more fortunate sibling
'Envy: A Seven Deadly Sins Story' centers around how the green-eyed monster can truly consume not just one, but several lives. In this case, the lives of Gabrielle (Rose Rollins) and her family. It all begins when her half-sister Keisha (Serayah), who is the result of a tryst Gabrielle's father had many years ago, enters Gabrielle's life virtually overnight. Gabrielle's father (Gregory Alan Williams) is wracked with guilt that Keisha didn't grow up with a father figure in her life, and even Gabrielle puts aside her initial doubts to try and make up for lost time with Keisha. However, things soon take a dark turn when it's clear that Keisha will take from Gabrielle what she believes was denied to her in her childhood, as well as her as an adult.
When we see Keisha's tragic childhood, it is not hard to see where this envy comes from. Gabrielle, on the other hand, seems to have it all — from the perfect career to a loving husband and a beautiful daughter. But as we see in the film, while Keisha is clearly a woman who loves the high life, it is perhaps Gabrielle's daughter Bella who Keisha wants above all things.
Keisha lost her own child, who would have been Bella's age, leaving a void that she still hasn't been able to fill. In one rather disturbing point in the film, we see Keisha putting Bella to sleep, while Gabrielle watches. Gabrielle initially thinks that Keisha is simply being an indulgent aunt, but then hears Keisha call Bella 'my daughter'. What is surprising though is that Gabrielle doesn't even address this 'slip' and Keisha continues to live in the house.
There are several other gaps like this in the plot. Incidents that should send alarm bells ringing, but for some reason don't. Maybe there wouldn't have been much of a plot if the others realized too early just how dangerous Keisha is. Though to be fair, the film has very sparse plotting overall. In fact, the whole story seems to hinge on no one believing Gabrielle, when she starts to suspect that Keisha is up to no good.
This doesn't make much sense, since the one thing we observe about Gabrielle from her picture-perfect life is how organized, responsible, and ultimately trustworthy she is. So it's a mystery why her father and her husband choose to often take Keisha's word over hers, especially since Keisha is the relative newcomer in their lives.
Gabrielle's husband even walks in on Keisha trying on his wife's clothes but believes Keisha's sob story, that she's trying on Gabrielle's clothes because she wants to be so much like Gabrielle. We couldn't help but roll our eyes, that her excuse goes unchallenged.
Gabrielle is also often targeted for being ambitious and wanting to make her business a success. Her husband constantly pressures her for a second child and pouts that Gabrielle's biggest client is her ex-boyfriend, rapper Justice. It's clear that Keisha thinks Gabrielle has a lot to be envious of.
But is Gabrielle's lot in life really something to be envied? She is the one grappling with problems like an insecure husband, a father who has kept a massive secret from her while running a business and taking care of a young child.
The only one who is equally if not more suspicious of Keisha from the very start is Gabrielle's best friend Regan (Kandi Burruss). Burruss is in her element as the tell-it-like-it-is best friend, who helps Gabrielle blaze through all her internal second-guessing. Regan is ultimately the one who confronts Keisha about the vicious lies she has been spreading about Gabrielle to her husband and to the press about Gabrielle's relationship with rapper Justice.
When Regan who is heavily pregnant confronts Keisha she ends up getting pushed down the stairs. Shocked at what she has done, Keisha then takes Bella and runs away with her. However, the enormity of what she has done soon sinks in and she calls her father. To his credit, her father says that dads are meant to be with their children for their failures as well as successes, and adds that he will stand by her. Gregory Alan Williams delivers a great on-screen depiction of a good father figure and he brings kindness and compassion to the role.
Fortunately, Regan and her baby both turn out to be fine and Bella is returned safely to her parents. While Gabrielle at the time screams that she will never forgive Keisha, it seems that the bond of family is truly a strong one.
We then see that Gabrielle and her father go to visit Keisha in prison. It may seem like an improbable scenario, but to the actors' credit, they make it seem quite believable that they are now all going to work on forgiving each other as a family. Gabrielle tells Keisha that in spite of the pain Keisha has caused her, she understands that Keisha is in pain as well.
While Serayah's acting veers between too many and too few expressions, in this scene she is perhaps at her most genuine and we get glimpses of some true acting potential. Williams is the father figure all of us would like in our lives, and Rose Rollins brings a quiet dignity to her role.
'Envy: A Seven Deadly Sins Story' premieres on Saturday, April 17 at 8/7c on Lifetime.