Ginny & Georgia

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Antonia Gentry in Ginny & Georgia.
Antonia Gentry in Ginny & Georgia.
Photo: Netflix

SHOW:

Ginny & Georgia

WHERE TO WATCH:

Netflix

OUR RATING:

4/5 Stars

WHAT IT'S ABOUT:

Ginny & Georgia is the story of a 15-year-old girl and her 30-year-old mother who move to a small town so that Georgia can give her children a better life.

WHAT WE THOUGHT:

I have very vivid memories of being glued to the television every week when Gilmore Girls was on. The world of Stars Hollow so entranced me, the cadence of Lorelai and Emily Gilmore's arguments, the relationship drama that Rory dealt with; it was like catnip. Ginny & Georgia has a similar appeal; I found myself watching ten episodes in a row as I gleaned to learn more about this world I was engrossed in.

Ginny & Georgia tells the story of a mother, Georgia (Brianne Howey), who moves with her daughter Ginny (Antonia Gentry) and her son, Austin (Diesel La Torraca), to the town of Wellsbury, Massachusetts, after the death of her husband (who is not the father of the children). From the get-go, Georgia makes it clear that her motivation for moving to Wellsbury is to give her children the life that she never had. This all seems simple enough, but Georgia is also struggling with demons from her past that are catching up to her.

It is difficult to talk about Ginny & Georgia and not bring up our old friends, Gilmore Girls. The latter has become so cemented in pop culture that any story about a teenager and her young single mother will be compared to it. While I do see some similarities in the relationship between Ginny and Georgia, and their romantic relationships (there is a Luke-esque character that I am in love with), there is very little else that is like Gilmore Girls. It seems to take the things that worked for Gilmore Girls and discarded many of the parts that did not work.

Tonally, it reminded me a lot more of Little Fires Everywhere, which is also a story about a single mother and daughter who move to an affluent neighbourhood and have to deal with their past catching up to them. At times, it seems as if Ginny and Georgia exist in two different shows. Georgia is trying to be the perfect mother, working in the mayor's office, having a fun friendship with her neighbour Ellen (Schitt's Creek's Jennifer Robertson), and dealing with her romance with the mayor, Paul Randolph (Scott Porter), amid his re-election campaign. The episodes seem to work around events that the town has, like Fall Festival and Casino Night, and Georgia seems to be living in Hart of Dixie (another small town show with Scott Porter), which is very different to Georgia's flashbacks. In her flashbacks, we learn about her dark secrets that brought her to the place where she's now, her journey as a teenage runaway, getting pregnant at fifteen and having to hustle and scam her way through life. Brianne Howey has the ability to turn from a perfectly smiling Southern belle into a ruthless vagabond in seconds. While at times, it feels almost jarring that young Georgia (Nikki Roumel) and the older Georgia are the same characters. As the season progresses, we see more of Georgia's perfect facade fading.

Ginny's storyline, on the other hand, exists solely in the teen drama spectrum. All we know about her before she moves to Wellsbury is that they moved around a lot, and she didn't have friends before. However, at her new school, she is immediately taken in by her fast-talking, lesbian neighbour Maxine (Sara Weisglass) and her popular group of friends. She starts dating the perpetual nice guy, Hunter (Mason Temple), while still dealing with complicated feelings for Maxine's twin brother Marcus (Felix Mallard), a sort of modern-day Jordan Catalano. Ginny is at the age where she starts questioning her mother's decisions, and even though her mother prides herself in knowing everything about her daughter, Ginny rebels against that. Ginny, like the audience, is being introduced to this world, where the teenagers drink and have sex like they are grown. Not to the Euphoria level, but way more than Gilmore Girls and its' contemporaries.

Ginny is also struggling with being biracial in a very white place. She constantly has to deal with racial microaggressions from teachers, from her friends, from other adults in the town, and we can see how she rides that, desperately not wanting to ruin the good thing she has going but also wanting to stay true to herself. There is an especially poignant scene where Ginny is arguing with her boyfriend Hunter, who is half-Taiwanese. The two argue about how being biracial is different for them and enter into, as Hunter calls it, 'oppression Olympics' about who has it harder. What makes Ginny & Georgia good is that it addresses these issues with nuance. There's more to being biracial than being not white enough or not black enough; also, biracial does not only mean being half-white, half-black. There are scenes where Ginny's friends treat her horribly, but she puts up with it because she's never had friends before, and they give access to a certain social status. While we see Ginny experiencing school with her white friends an entire season, we don't really see her exploring relationships with black people other than her father and one classmate. There is a scene where she is sitting with a group of black students, and she looks lost, but only because they are discussing college applications, and she is a bit younger than them. To understand how she straddles both worlds, it would be interesting to see her interact with more black people.

A problem I had with Gilmore Girls was that other than some very big Yale issues, Lorelai and Rory were too much like friends. There were many times when Lorelai was very immature and also lacked the authority to parent Rory adequately. Ginny & Georgia shows the danger of a parent trying to be their child's friend. Georgia often does not notice very real cries for help from Ginny because she is too busy trying to be the cool mom or trusting that her daughter would tell her everything when she isn't forthcoming with her daughter about her own secrets.

The show tries to do too much in only ten episodes. The large cast means that there are a lot of stories to tell, and they started up too many without resolution. There is a character dealing with self-harm that isn't addressed, one who has an eating disorder, the real story about Austin's father, the real story about Georgia's father – at the end of the season; I was left with more questions than answers. I hope that the show is renewed for another season to explore these storylines more, but it really felt as if they bit off more than they can chew in the first season.

The series boasts excellent performances, especially from Brianne Howey and Antonia Gentry in the title characters. They are able to navigate this world so well that we feel as if we are on the journey with them. They are also both strong enough to anchor and steer their own storylines while still keeping us invested in their relationship with each other. Their truly powerful scenes are when they are together, they have such good chemistry together, and you can feel the intensity in every line of dialogue they utter to each other. Howey is also so good as Georgia, a character that in any other series would be a clear villain. However, Howey's sunny disposition and the character's framing as a survivor have you rooting for her even when you know she's in the wrong.

Ginny & Georgia is not Gilmore Girls, but in the same way, it does have that appeal to women at various stages in their lives, and it is extremely watchable. If you are looking for something to become engrossed in, to give you plenty of mystery and surprises and have you thinking about it long after you've turned it off, Ginny & Georgia is for you.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:

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