Embracing the Chaos of Ginny & Georgia

Season 1 of Netflix's drama Ginny & Georgia came out on 24 February 2021. Created by Sarah Lampert, it centres around Ginny (a biracial teenager), Georgia Miller (her mother) and their relationship as they navigate life after moving to a new town in Massachusetts. With 10 episodes (each 50ish minutes long), it is super easy to bingewatch and fans of the show are now desperate to know if/when a second season will be released.

Even if you haven't seen Ginny & Georgia, you might have heard of it. Two scenes from this season went viral: a scene where two of the main characters are rowing about race and ethnicity ('The Oppression Olympics') as well as a line about Taylor Swift which the singer tweeted about soon after...

They say that 'Any press is good press', and the remarks of a pop-star with 88.6 million followers on Twitter certainly made more people aware of the show, but another byproduct of this controversy was that the Swifty fandom took action by review bombing the show online - an extreme response when you consider the entire context of the show and the deadpan, cutting language typically used by Ginny (the character who said the line in question). Will Netflix take this into consideration when they make a decision on whether to renew it for a second season? Perhaps! We will have to see.

Constant references to musicians, movies and pop culture is one of the things that makes Ginny & Georgia such a hit. If you're not familiar with Harry Potter, Britney Spears or The Batchelor, a lot of the dialogue won't make total sense and the comedy elements just won't land as intended. The references are not all just about current pop culture though; the dialogue also refers to Gone with the Wind, The Twilight Zone and Shakespeare. Georgia even delivers a very self-aware line comparing her and Ginny to the Gilmore Girls, a show released two decades before G&G with a similar mother-daughter dynamic at its core.

This mix of retro nods combined with contemporary references from the last decade or so makes it hard to tell who the show's primary audience is. Talking generationally, it seems that the adult characters (Georgia, Joe, Mayor Paul and Ellen) and their respective plights are there for the millennials, while the teen characters (Ginny, Max, Marcus and Hunter and the rest of MANG) would typically appeal more to Gen Z. Targeting a dual demographic is a bold decision, but opening up a show to so many could actually mean that more viewers stick out the 10 episodes than they would if it were a straight up teen drama.

Is it mainly about Georgia? Or is it more about Ginny? As the title suggests, it's about both of them - both have a story to be told and as mother and daughter, their stories are intertwined. The impact of a mother on her daughter is something that we have seen time and time again, but this show also explores the how the existence of a daughter can shape and influence a mother's behaviour and choices too. Brianne Howey and Antonia Gentry as the titular characters is a winning combination, especially when paired with such a fantastic wider cast - many of whom have a story arc that is crying out for development in subsequent seasons.

Watching the relationship of Ginny and Georgia develop - or unravel, as is more the case here - taps into the duality of the show in the way that we see the issues that the Miller family experience through two different perspectives. Though Georgia is only 30 years old, her life experience means that her viewpoint and approach to problems varies hugely in comparison to 15 year old Ginny's. While the shared narrative could be seen as a strength, it's also one of the reasons that the show has been criticised - it covers a lot of issues. Here's what the show tackles (and this is by no means a definitive list) from the perspective of daughter and mother:

Ginny's World

  • Starting at a new school

  • Thinking about college applications and the future generally

  • Your first love

  • Losing your virginity

  • Self-harm

  • Eating disorders

  • Dealing with grief

  • Disability

  • Separated parents

  • Racial identity

  • Sexual identity

  • Popularity and peer pressure

Georgia's World

  • Starting again in a new town

  • Childhood trauma

  • Sexual abuse

  • Parental guilt

  • Dealing with other parents

  • Forging a career

  • Financial hardship

  • Divorce

  • Dating

  • Infidelity

  • Reputation

As you can see, that's an awful lot to attempt to cover. As a result, some may perceive the show as chaotic and might think it's unsure of what it wants to be. On the flip side, I think it's an ambitious and dynamic show with mass appeal and irresistible characters. I see it as multi-dimensional and reflective of how disorderly and complex life is. Sure, it could be more refined in places and the characters all have flaws, but the hook is almost immediate and there is something - or someone - for everyone here (there's tap dancing, poetry slams, hidden guns, boys sneaking in through windows and political sabotage... need I go on?). If you don't take Ginny & Georgia too seriously and embrace the chaos, it is easy to love and a thrilling watch.