TV Reviews

Let’s talk about Ginny & Georgia

There is a lot to talk about when it comes to Ginny & Georgia because this is a completely BONKERS show but in all the best ways and I loved it.

Ginny & Georgia is a mother-daughter show often described as Gilmore Girls 2.0. I think that’s lazy. Sure you’ve got the double G alliteration, the same “I had her when I was her age” teen mom to a teenager dynamic going on, and a small town in New England vibe, but that’s where the similarities end.

I think a more accurate description would be Ginny & Georgia is Gilmore Girls crossed with Pretty Little Liars, crossed with 13 Reasons Why with a little bit of Hallmark Movie charm. So yeah — bonkers is the word I use for it.

In episode one we meet Georgia (Brianne Howey) – a 30-year-old single mom to 15-year-old Ginny (Antonia Gentry) and 9-year-old Austin (Diesel La Torraca). This little family moves around a lot and in the pilot, they arrive in picturesque Wellsbury to start a new life.

But also in the first episode – Ginny starts dating one boy, starts an affair with her neighbour/new best friend’s brother, calls out her teacher for being sexist/racist, and smokes weed. Meanwhile, Georgia gets a job in the mayor’s office, starts a mommy-feud, becomes friends with the local cafe-bar-restaurant owner, and it’s revealed that maybe she killed her ex. Maybe. It’s a mystery that we dive into throughout the series.

The show twists and turns flashing back and forth between the present and Georgia’s teenage past. It’s a ride – and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I often needed to keep watching – always hitting ‘play next episode’. It is an addictive and fun series – exactly what I need right now.

My love of this show starts in Wellsbury. Wellsbury, Massachusetts is not a real town, but the town that played Wellsbury is Cobourg, Ontario.

Cobourg, Ontario is one of my favourite places in the entire world. It’s my mom’s home town. It’s where I’d go and visit my grandparents as a kid. I used to have a Cobourg Public Library Card as a kid. I’ve eaten at most of the restaurants, been to all the festivals, and swam at the beach countless times. It’s the town closest to my cottage and when the pandemic hit, I basically moved there this summer. I’m such a Cobourg fan that a colleague gave me a Cobourg-opoly board game for my birthday this year.

It’s just so special to see my special place on screen. My favourite restaurant to eat at with my grandfather growing up was The Matterhorn. I couldn’t help but smile every time Victoria Hall got to be the backdrop to something special. The El is Joe’s restaurant and Audrey’s In Town Fashions also gets a starring role in a few episodes. Every time they walked down King Street I nearly cried.

I’ve been stuck at home for lockdown 2.0 and I would do anything for a little Cobourg road trip. This show checked that box for me.

The entire production design was great – so yes the locations were perfect, but the sets were also great, the costumes excellent, and the props and little details were all well thought out.

It had a ‘Hallmark’ aesthetic but in the best possible way. It made the show feel warm and cozy, which made the plot feel that much more bonkers.

I really don’t want to spoil this if you haven’t seen the show yet, but it’s wild. There’s a murder mystery, there are love triangles, personal struggles, and a lot of financial fraud. It could be unbelievable and cheesy but it’s not. It works. I’m going to attribute that to the wonderful performances of all the actors in this project.

Across the board – I loved all the actors in this.

Brianne Howey was show-stopping as Georiga. She was charming, nurturing, cool… and manipulative, secretive, and scary all at the same time. She was so good in this. Her younger counterpart, Nikki Roumel, is also fantastic as teen Georiga. I honestly cannot wait to see where Georgia’s arc goes in season two because these two actors make the part so compelling.

I was always going to love Jason Street Scott Porter as Mayor Paul Randolph. I’ve always been a big Scott Porter fan (he was great in Friday Night Lights and Hart of Dixie) and he’s the perfect golden leading man in this. The dynamic between him and Diesel La Torraca as Austin was such a lovely side plot.

This show featured an incredible cast of Canadian actors: Schitt’s Creek‘s Jennifer Robertson as Ellen Baker, Degrassi‘s Raymond Ablack as Joe, Kim’s Convenience‘s Sabrina Grdevich as Cynthia Fuller, The Twentieth Century‘s Daniel Beirne as Nick, The Boy‘s Nathan Mitchell as Zion Miller… the list goes on. It was really fun to watch this with my roommate (she works in the theatre community) because we kept recognizing people – and people we know in real life too. It was just really fun.

MANG with the exception of Ginny, are also all Canadian actors which is so much fun to see these new up and coming faces get a big show like this. Sara Waisglass as Maxine “Max” Baker is fantastic. She’s got something special and I know we’re going to see a lot more of her. Katie Douglas as Abby and Chelsea Clark as Norah are also strong and both bring so much to their roles. The issues that this group of girls had to deal with and perform was tough. We’re talking coming out, eating disorders, controlling parents, friend fights, self-harm, etc. It’s not easy and these girls made it believable.

Antonia Gentry – Ginny – is going to be a big star. Her presence on screen is captivating. She adds something to every scene she’s in. The Ginny character can be annoying but I really loved following her storyline. The friendship between Ginny and Max was really strong, her dynamic with her brother was amazing, her hot and cold relationship with her mom was realistic for a teenager, and the big issues were also compelling to watch: her struggle to find her place in her white family and the predominantly white town was important, she self-harms and it was heartbreaking, and Ginny was also juggling boys and was trying to figure out dating.

Antonia Gentry’s chemistry with Felix Mallard – Marcus Baker – was off the charts. So sorry Hunter (Mason Temple), but there was no chance for you after seeing how Marcus and Ginny interacted. It was electric. I spent a longer time than I want to admit googling Felix Mallard after watching this show. If I’m going to tell you to watch this show – this is a major plus.

If you’ve seen this show, you know how bonkers the storylines get. There are twists and turns and a constant stream of viewers saying “what?!”. It’s also highly mature – this isn’t a show for teenagers. I think teens will obviously watch this, but I should say, this isn’t just a show for teenagers. In my mind, this is a show for everyone in that 15-30 window. There are some edgy moments, lots of boundaries being pushed. If I heard a teenager was watching this, it would raise my eyebrows, but I’d get it. However, I’m not going out and telling teens to watch this because it’s a bit edgy. For example, teenagers who are 15 should not be having boys climb through their windows to have sex the first day they meet. Even if I wish Felix Mallard would climb through my window…

Anyways…

If you’ve heard anything about this show, you probably heard about the Taylor Swift line.

Let the record show that I’m a massive Swiftie but I think Taylor missed the point with this one.

Ginny & Georgia has ridiculous one-liners throughout the whole series. It’s one of my favourite things about the show. Mayor Paul gets introduced as “That’s Mayor Paul “waiting for my Bachelor call” Randolf.” My personal favourite is when one character called another “a human Fyre Festival”. There is a constant stream of pop culture references (much like Gilmore Girls) and having a Taylor Swift reference is on-brand. I understand why the writers would have wanted to include it.

What’s missing in this whole Taylor Swift-line discord is the context in which the line is said. Off the top – “You go through men faster than Taylor Swift” was not said as a joke. It was in the final episode in the climatic major fight between Ginny and Georgia. Ginny was trying to be hurtful and said something extremely hurtful. My reaction to that line in this scene was, “that was extremely rude.” I agree with Taylor that the line was deeply sexist and as writers, they could have avoided a pop culture reference (if that’s what you want to call this) in this scene. But to say it was a joke is wrong – I definitely wasn’t laughing. It honestly felt like Ginny slapped Georgia when she said that.

I think Taylor Swift can date as many men as she wants – you go girl (I wish I her ex list – like I’d date Harry Styles and Jake Gyllenhaal). But as Taylor talks about in Miss American, she was in her 20s and exploring and dating as one should. Georgia is exactly the same age as Taylor (30) and Georgia should have the ability to date as many men as she wants to too. I think it must be extremely hard to be in your twenties, with two kids, and trying to date.

The issue for both women is that people are shaming them for dating “too much”. It’s ridiculous. This shouldn’t happen — full stop. No one should have things like this said to them.

In some ways that’s why this line works – we know it’s a terrible thing to say and that’s why it’s so much worse when Ginny says this to her mom. However, they should have known that Taylor would not be happy with her experience being used as an insult.

Taylor should call out slut-shaming, sexist comments. I just think diminishing it as a ‘joke’ ruins the point.

I also think my fear here is that this is a really good show, that had a lot of talented Canadian working on it, both in front and behind the camera, and I really worry that this one controversy will cancel the show. Taylor and her fans have that power.

I really don’t want that to happen because I need to know to what happens next. The show ends on a cliffhanger and I will be devastated if this is the end of Ginny & Georgia.

Ginny & Georgia is now streaming on Netflix.

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