‘Ginny & Georgia’ Review: A Mother, A Daughter, And Plenty of Secrets

Audrey Fox reviews Ginny & Georgia, the latest show created by Sarah Lampert. This Netflix series has enough charm to put it a cut above your garden-variety teen drama.
User Rating: 7

Unto every generation, a network is born that seems to carry the mantle of home to the edgy teen drama. WB in the 90s, CW in the 2000s and 2010s, and now Netflix is apparently vying for the crown. Ginny & Georgia follows in the traditional footsteps of its elders, bringing all the soapy chaos we’ve come to expect: parents who just don’t understand, relationship drama, mean girl shenanigans, a quirky coffee shop with a dreamy 30-something owner, and of course, all the hot-button teen issues you can shake a stick at. It’s not half as subversive or groundbreaking as it seems to think it is. Still, there’s a charm to Ginny & Georgia, especially in its willingness to directly address trauma, that makes it a cut above your garden-variety teen drama. There have been a lot of comparisons between this and Gilmore Girls — they’re mostly surface-level. Ginny & Georgia is like if Gilmore Girls was about a mother and daughter who genuinely struggled rather than just painting themselves as victims all the time.

For all of Ginny’s (Antonia Gentry) life, it’s been her and her mother, Georgia (Brianne Howey), against the world (there’s also her little brother Austin, but let’s face it, he’s treated as pretty much an afterthought.) Georgia had Ginny when she was just 15-years-old and has veritable filing cabinets full of secrets about her past life and the things she’s done to keep their family afloat. Despite her sunny blond exterior, life has made her tough and cynical, and endlessly inventive, always looking for a new angle to exploit out of pure self-preservation.

But Ginny is 15 years old, and she doesn’t see any of that. She sees a mother trying to act too young (Georgia’s only 30, so it’s understandable), who flirts and charms with an easy grace that Ginny could only dream of emulating. She sees a mother who gets into bad relationships with men and who has uprooted the family half a dozen times over, moving them to a new town whenever things get too complicated. This latest move brings them to the idyllic suburban community of Wellsbury, Massachusetts, the sort of quirkily endearing town that undoubtedly contributed to some of the Gilmore Girls comparisons, and Ginny is determined to make it stick.

Despite having always been a loner at her old schools, she quickly finds a group of close friends (they christen themselves MANG, an acronym of all of their initials, seemingly oblivious to how gross it sounds.) And because this is a teen drama, Ginny also gets not one but two love interests. Hunter (Mason Temple), the kind, dependable, straight-A student who may not always understand Ginny but can pretty much be relied on to treat her right. Then there’s Marcus (Felix Mallard), the emotionally withdrawn boy next door who, like the teen heartthrobs who came before him, is comprised almost entirely of floppy hair, furrowed brows, and cheekbones you could cut yourself on. So at some point, she’s going to have a real tough decision to make.

The narrative in Ginny & Georgia is split pretty evenly between the two leads, with Georgia’s half arguably the more compelling. The flashbacks to her youth occasionally feel like interruptions, but they provide essential insight into how this extraordinary woman came into being. It’s hard not to want the best for Georgia, even when she’s doing morally reprehensible things, because all of her actions are rooted in a protective instinct. She has major Bonnie and Clyde vibes, and her unapologetic amorality goes a long way in presenting a maternal figure we haven’t seen before.

Ginny’s arc is less immediately gripping, but that’s because the script requires her to devote a lot of screen time to be a rigid, combative teenager forever feuding with her mother. We, as the audience, are given a window into Georgia’s past, so we have a sense of why she is the way she is, but Ginny doesn’t have that luxury. More than anything else, she struggles with her sense of identity, which informs all of her conflict in the series.

As a mixed-race kid raised by a white mom, she questions her racial identity every day. Some of the conversations about race in Ginny & Georgia are overwritten, but there are occasional subtler moments that do a much better job of highlighting the tightrope Ginny walks every day. And her identity issues only begin there — they’re exacerbated by having no sense of belonging, having a largely absent father figure, and not understanding the essence of where her mother comes from. If her mother’s life is a lie, then it follows that Ginny’s is as well.

Ginny & Georgia benefits enormously from its two leading ladies, who both turn in strong performances, as well as a larger cast of supporting characters that are all endearing and engaging (the entire Baker family is especially delightful.) The tone of the series is well-balanced, for the most part, with enough moments of levity to counteract the scenes when it really delves into the trauma of its characters. As far as teen soap operas go, Ginny & Georgia is a more than worthy entry to the genre.

7
Good
Written by
Audrey Fox has been an entertainment journalist since 2014, specializing in film and television. She has written for Awards Circuit, Jumpcut Online, Crooked Marquee, We Are the Mutants, and is a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic. Audrey is firm in her belief that Harold Lloyd is the premier silent film comedian, Sky High is the greatest superhero movie ever made, Mad Men's "The Suitcase" is the single best episode of television to date, and no one in the world has ever given Anton Walbrook enough credit for his acting work. Her favorite movies include Inglourious Basterds, Some Like It Hot, The Elephant Man, Singin' in the Rain, Jurassic Park, and Back to the Future.

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