Netflix's 'Ginny & Georgia' Is Like 'Gilmore Girls' on Steroids
The new melodrama is familiar enough to be comforting and weird enough to be immensely watchable.
Netflix's new drama series Ginny & Georgia begs comparison. "We're like the Gilmore Girls, but with bigger boobs," the titular Georgia chirps in the pilot. So, yeah, the show isn't even hiding the fact that it's basically a funhouse mirror version of Gilmore Girls, taking its basic premise and upping the drama to ridiculous levels.
Watching Ginny & Georgia, I was initially surprised by just how much it reflects its predecessor beyond even the obvious: Now 30-year-old former teen mom Georgia moves her 15-year-old daughter Ginny to a cutesy New England town. There's a local cafe run by a hunk (Raymond Ablack) with whom Georgia has undeniable chemistry despite being romantically involved elsewhere. Ginny (Antonia Gentry) is almost immediately part of a love triangle involving a "nice boy" and a "bad boy." Wellsbury, Massachusetts—like Stars Hollow before it—has goofy traditions, including competitive Halloween decorating. Georgia is constantly drawn back into the arms of Ginny's father, a hot guy who rides a motorcycle. There's even a crucial first season sweet 16 episode, just like in Gilmore Girls.
But Ginny & Georgia, created by Sarah Lampert, is also way more The CW than The WB. By that, I mean: Gilmore Girls defines The WB the same as Gossip Girl and Riverdale do The CW. Ginny & Georgia is a nighttime (or whatever time of day you want—this is Netflix) soap more than Gilmore Girls ever was. (Remember how Rory didn't lose her virginity until the end of Season 4?) Ginny and her friends are frank about sex and having it. They also drink. A lot. And Georgia's baggage goes a lot further than stuffy rich parents who she disappointed. She's a runaway from an abusive home, whose desire to make life better for her children—Ginny and her son from another father, Austin—verges on sociopathy. She's not just a cool mom, she's also a budding crime lord, who has gone from running illegal poker rings to some light embezzlement to more serious offenses. She's Lorelai crossed with Walter White all filtered through Scarlett O'Hara, a personal hero of Georgia's, never mind the fact that she has a half-Black daughter and Gone with the Wind is one of the most insidiously racist texts in American pop culture.
If Gilmore Girls on melodramatic steroids seems fun to you, well, Ginny & Georgia is, actually. It's a flawed but incredibly watchable series, anchored by two strong performances from Howery and Gentry. Though the first season is simultaneously overstuffed and overlong—another 10, 53-minute episode series from Netflix!—it's almost always engaging, throwing in plot twists, surprise visitors, and romantic intrigue. A lot happens: Georgia starts to work for the handsome town mayor running for reelection, Ginny falls in with a wild but close-knit clique, one of Ginny's suitors performs a happy birthday tap dance for her. (Is Gen Z really into tap dance? I don't know. The sequence is weird.) At the same time, these hours of television only begin to scratch the surface of some of the more interesting questions raised, especially when it comes to Ginny and her struggles with acceptance and identity as a mixed race girl raised by a white parent in a largely white suburb.
It's specifics like that which make Ginny & Georgia more distinctive than what came before it, and yet a generic quality—evident in the bland Spotify-core soundtrack, flat visual style, and references that already seem dated—stifles its novelty. (The title of the finale is a callout to a 2-year-old Kylie Jenner feud.) Ginny & Georgia is perfect background TV: familiar enough to be comforting, but with enough of its own weird energy to let Netflix's autoplay jump into the next episode.
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