Front of house: The underwhelming excess of ‘Ginny & Georgia’

A woman with brown curly hair and a woman with blonde hair sit in a red car looking stunned.
Netflix’s Ginny and Georgia follows Ginny (Antonia Gentry) and Georgia (Brianne Howey) as they navigate life after moving to a small town in Massachusetts. (Courtesy: Netflix)

Netflix’s “Ginny & Georgia” follows mother Georgia Miller (Brianne Howey) and her daughter, Ginny Miller (Antonia Gentry), as they move across the country to find a new life in Massachusetts. Georgia had Ginny when she was relatively young, and their relationship is very close, reminiscent to that of Rory and Lorelai from “Gilmore Girls” — a comparison Howey’s character makes herself. 

It’s hard to classify “Ginny & Georgia” as any particular genre. Not because it masterfully blurs the lines of preexisting genre taxonomy, but because it simply can’t pick a tone or style. It’s a family drama, a crime show, a Disney high school movie and simultaneously none of those things at all. The show ends up feeling like a hastily stitched together quilt of different styles and concepts, none of which are afforded center stage.

“Ginny & Georgia” screams excess in every way, from content to style. The sheer amount of narrative threads quickly becomes overwhelming, while the over-the-top dialogue and text conversations recounted through busy on-screen graphics leave the head spinning. Excess and drama make sense for a story set in high school — where everything moves at an impossible speed and every dramatic moment feels like the end of the world — but the muted colors and understated acting makes it feel lazy and rushed rather than deliberate. The show falls short of the flashy self-aware over-stylization of “Euphoria” or the campy storybook quality of “But I’m A Cheerleader.”

The pacing is strange and grows increasingly choppy as the various narrative threads unfold. Cuts between drama with Ginny’s friend group and somber mother-daughter conversations about life feel like flipping between a Disney channel original and a Lifetime movie. There is a point where Georgia becomes involved in covering the tracks of illegal activity from her past, and “crime drama” becomes an unwelcome addition to the genres the show attempts to straddle, paying no mind to continuity. 

To make matters worse, Georgia’s criminal past is portrayed with an incongruous combination of comedy and sobriety. By the last episode, it’s unclear whether we’re supposed to regard this plotline with any degree of seriousness.

Of all the pieces comprising the overwhelming collage of this show, the most unbearable is its attempt to tackle race and gender dynamics between characters. Teenagers today tend to be very socially aware, and it seems as though older writers are struggling to convey that. At points, it goes beyond being out of touch and reads like a satire of teenagers parading as socially aware by repeating buzzwords they don’t fully understand. 

When Ginny sits down in her English class for the first time, she launches into a monologue about how regressive it is for their syllabus to lack representation from writers that aren’t male or white. The point she’s making isn’t incorrect, but the wildly unrealistic writing paired with Ginny’s dry, self-congratulatory delivery makes it hard to want to agree with her. Her stunned peers, however, are driven to appreciative silence. 

The pitfalls of this writing style captured the attention of the internet when a clip from the show in which Ginny argues with her boyfriend, Matt (Damian Romeo), went viral. Ginny and Matt are both biracial and get into an argument about which of the two of them is more whitewashed, hurling insults at one another about the other’s failure to embrace cultural expectations. The premise isn’t awful, but the dialogue is cheesy, unrealistic and over the top.

Looking past the pseudo-woke dialogue, there are some moments in which the show’s exploration of race is genuinely compelling. Ginny’s anxiety about being the only Black girl in her friend group is written thoughtfully, and the scenes in which this anxiety bubbles over are real and heart-wrenching. The tension in the dynamic between Ginny and Georgia is strikingly realistic at times, with Ginny’s being forced to confront the very real consequences of her mother’s background in crime. 

Each of the individual pieces comprising “Ginny & Georgia” has moments that are grounded and well-made. But when those moments are thrown together with the show’s other components and taken as a whole, the show ultimately doesn’t commit enough to any one of its pieces to truly make it work.

Caelan Reeves CM ’24 is one of TSL’s pop culture columnists. They’re a government and literature dual major from Chicago and love everything to do with music, movies and books.

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