“Ginny & Georgia” delves into issues around identity

Photo courtesy of Fair Use, Wikipedia

Released on Feb. 24, Netflix’s new series “Ginny and Georgia” follows 30-year-old single mother Georgia (Brianne Howey) as she raises her two children, who each have different fathers. Her children include 15-year-old Ginny (Antonia Gentry) and 9-year-old Austin (Diesel La Torraca). The family just moved from Austin, Texas to the new town of Wellsbury, Mass.

Teenagers and young adults can enjoy this new series as it explores mature content including sex, smoking and alcohol, but it is intended to display navigating those areas. However, the series is primarily focused on the mother-daughter relationships and race.

Georgia’s character is very vivacious, careless and frivolous upfront, making her seem kind of shallow and superficial at first. Her appearance, with flashy and bold style choices adds to that with the typical bleach-blond “Barbie” stereotype. And yet, it turns out she has a lot of mysterious baggage and unresolved problems that she deals with by leaving them behind, not facing or solving them.

Ginny is biracial: her dark brown coily hair and medium complexion comes from her father's side. Her brother, Austin, is white and blonde, so Ginny looks very different from her family that she lives with. Wellsbury is also a predominantly white town and this is alluded to several times, mostly through Ginny’s commentary about it.

She often acts very cynical, closed off and angry especially in front of her mom, whom she is still upset with for making the family move again, indicating that resentment with gestures like eye-rolling and crossed arms. Sometimes, she actually does feel that way about the move and the new social situations that are thrown her way, but it also looks like she is excited and enjoying some things about her new life.

Ginny is busy working on finding her place in this new town and school by making friends and relationships, but is critical of her mom’s decisions and many of her actions. Meanwhile, she is using the fresh start to avoid the past and is secretive about a lot of information, keeping her children in the dark. There are many flashbacks of her past, to when she was a teenager, giving the audience clues of how it ties into what’s happening in the present.

Throughout the show, Ginny goes through an identity crisis and learns about herself, while we as the audience get to piece together who Georgia really is.

As mentioned frequently in the media, “Ginny & Georgia” has a lot in common with the hit show “Gilmore Girls.” In fact, Georgia even acknowledges it in one scene: “we’re like the Gilmore Girls.”

They both feature a young mom and her teenage daughter in a small town where most of the show takes place. However, the mother-daughter relationship of Ginny and Georgia is more strained and complicated.

Georgia frequently expresses as a narrator that she doesn’t understand her daughter and viceversa, that Ginny doesn’t understand her either. She sees Georgia as immature and untrustworthy, not deliberately, but in a careless and irresponsible way.

This show touches on and expresses a lot of very important and relevant topics including race, sex, relationships, sexual orientation, mental health, peer pressure and trust issues. It does all this very straightforward fashion.

This directness is positive because it makes the messages unmissable and clear, however it has a downside too, as it leaves less room up for interpretation. Spelling things out so bluntly and specifically may reduce opportunities for viewers to find connections between the show and themselves, but it didn’t seem too problematic in this case.

One of the main themes that this show addresses throughout is identity, including background, race and sexuality and also personal experiences that give an individual their character. It’s a very relevant theme with impactful messages because many of the characters feel isolated and misunderstood by others and conflicted about themselves.

Outside of the show right now, real people are struggling with isolation, a 24/7 virtual lifestyle and anxiety about the present and the future, which can be a source of identity crisis. Especially in the challenging time everyone is experiencing, it is fulfilling to watch something fictional and entertaining that lets us take breaks from our real lives, while also indirectly helping us to process those types of issues more easily.

4/5 stars 

 

khollosi@ramapo.edu