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By Lina Romero
When Ginny & Georgia came out, everyone was calling it the new Gilmore Girls. Now that I’ve watched all 10 episodes, I find this couldn’t be further from the truth. However, the show has its own unique, Gen-Z charm and is well-cast and acted. Read on (at the risk of spoilers) for all my opinions.
Trigger warning: Mentions of self-harm, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, domestic and sexual abuse.
Ginny, played by Antonia Gentry, bears few similarities to Rory Gilmore--instead of a shy academic, she's a somewhat grouchy, entitled teenager who makes a lot of mistakes, including cheating on her boyfriend. However, her character arc is still compelling and it's understandable that she'd have some issues considering her hard life. In fact, I wish the show addressed more of her psychological problems, apart from the gratuitous scenes in which Ginny self-harms with a lighter.
The show also places a weird amount of emphasis on Ginny’s romantic and sexual pursuits, which are more advanced than most tenth-graders. Obviously, many people are sexually active from a young age; however, this population is overrepresented in the media.
I find it uncomfortable how writers continually make shows about high schoolers but cast adults so they can get away with shooting soft porn. Even if the actors themselves aren’t minors, their characters are, and the idea of watching a sex scene involving 15- and 16-year-old characters is creepy. Also, most of the girls in the show are somewhat hyper-sexualized, which is unsurprising but still disappointing
Unfortunately, that isn't the only part of the show that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Ginny's mother Georgia (aka Mary) played by Brianne Howey talks about her sexual abuse without warning, and in the first episode we see her being beaten by one of her many ex-husband. While these things are, sadly, real issues; they are presented in glorified ways without ever properly addressing them.
The only way in which it does address them is by showing how Georgia killed two of her ex-husbands using poison, one of them because he was trying to sexually assault Ginny. However, although I am all for perverts suffering the consequences of their actions, I'm not sure murder was Georgia's only option in both situations. But I suppose that just demonstrates her lack of impulse control.
Overall, the show deals with a lot of heavy topics but it doesn’t touch on any of them seriously enough to give actual victims of domestic and sexual violence good representation. On the contrary, the opportunity to handle these issues is forgone in favor of crass humor--including one uncomfortable incident involving boys making lewd comments about Ginny’s friend Abby (played by Katie Douglas). Harassment happens often in reality, but instead of any of the many people present calling it out or addressing the fact that it isn’t okay, they just brush it off.
Similarly, the show alludes to Abby's eating disorder several times without ever showing her actually telling her friends or getting help. This may seem small, but as someone who recovered from an eating disorder, it can be very harmful. Eating disorders have a 20% mortality rate without treatment, and shows that normalize them can make it seem like it's okay to keep it to yourself.
Despite these flaws, some aspects of the show were very well done. For instance, the friendship between the four girls that form “MANG” (Maxine, Abby, Norah, and Ginny) is believable and reminded me of my own friend group from high-school. And much of the plot is interesting and enthralling, even if it’s overly romantic. The casting is also exceptional, with some standout performances from Rebecca Ablack as minor character Padma, and her brother Raymond Ablack as Joe, another one of Georgia's several love interests.
The last couple episodes of the show are action-packed. Marcus, Ginny's friend, played by Felix Mallard, catches Ginny self-harming and professes his love for her (which is a weird sequence of events, but we'll let it slide). At first, she rejects him in such a mean way that he ends up going out and getting into a bike accident. After he recovers, however Ginny admits she loves him too and they hook up, despite Ginny having a boyfriend.
Meanwhile, investigators have figured out Georgia's pattern of husband-killing, with the help of her estranged younger sister who harbors feelings of bitterness towards her. The truth is on the verge of coming out during the election of mayor Paul Randolph played by Scott Porter (who, by the way, Georgia is dating but also cheated on with Ginny's father- like mother, like daughter I guess). At the end, the show leaves on a cliff-hanger as Ginny decides to take her little brother Austin and split town to get away from her murdering mother.
Though I initially wasn't sure about the show, I am hopeful that it'll get a second season, if only to find out what kind of chaos will ensue next. It's no Gilmore Girls, but Ginny and Georgia is still a heartfelt and dramatic series with excellent acting.
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