Ginny & Georgia does not put the fun in 'dysfunction': Review
Though the trailer makes it look like Gilmore Girls with a twist, Netflix's new dramedy is weighed down by some truly bleak undertones.
Netflix has marketed Ginny & Georgia — a 10-episode dramedy premiering Wednesday — as Gilmore Girls with a mystery twist. On paper, that's correct: It's got the mom-and-daughter duo, the quaint New England town, romantic intrigue for teens and adults. But underneath Ginny & Georgia's patina of cutesy quirk lies a somewhat depressing story about two unhappy children who repeatedly suffer the consequences of their mother's broken moral compass.
When her husband Kenny (Darryl Scheelar) dies of a sudden heart attack, Georgia Miller (Brianne Howey) packs up her kids — 15-year-old Ginny (Antonia Gentry) and 9-year-old Austin (Diesel La Torraca) — and relocates to picturesque town of Wellsbury, Mass. "It looks like Paul Revere boned a pumpkin spice latte," scoffs Ginny, a studious and quiet teen who's tired of being the new girl at school. But Georgia — a comely, severely emotionally damaged 30-year-old who presents to the world as a free spirit — promises her kids that this time, things are gonna be different.
They're not. Georgia has secrets; cops make her skittish. Kenny's family is contesting the will, so money is tight. Within days, Georgia sets her sights on Wellsbury's handsome young mayor (Scott Porter) — even though she already promised the obviously attention-starved Austin that they'd be starting over as a family, "just the three of us." Ginny is thrust into navigating life as a mixed-race girl at Wellsbury's predominantly white high school. ("I'm too white for the Black kids and not white enough for the white kids," she notes.) Though she has none of her mother's confidence around the opposite sex, Ginny soon strikes up a hate-flirtation with the douchey boy next door (Felix Mallard) — who just happens to be the twin brother of her new best friend, Maxine (Sara Waisglass).
Georgia bounces around town dazzling Wellsburians with her cleavage and spunky Southern wit, while ongoing flashbacks reveal a series of formative traumas in her childhood and teenage years. Characters deal with a lot of serious stuff in Ginny & Georgia — violence, racism, grief, abandonment, self-harm — but the show consistently shies away from exploring that darkness. There are moments of insight, as when Ginny has a frank conversation with a fellow Black student (Tameka Griffiths) about the "fun tokenizing" that happens with her white friends, but too often, things get smoothed over with montages and dance parties.
None of this changes the fact that Georgia is carrying an overwhelming amount of pain, and it causes her to make terrible (if well-intentioned) decisions about her kids. Ginny & Georgia wants us to love the way that Georgia always manages to stay one step ahead — whether it's from a nosy private investigator (Alex Mallari Jr.) or an influential town busybody (Sabrina Grdevich). Instead, I kept hoping that Child Protective Services would finally catch up. Grade: B-