Arts and Entertainment

Ginny & Georgia: Netflix Is “Woke”

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Issue 13, Volume 111

By Ivy Halpern 

Cover Image

“Hey Ginny & Georgia, 2010 called and it wants its lazy, deeply sexist joke back. How about we stop degrading hard working women by defining this horse [EXPLETIVE] as FuNnY.” —Taylor Swift

If Taylor Swift critiques a show, does that mean we have to dislike it too? Probably. But after a quick viewing of “Ginny & Georgia,” to nobody’s surprise, Swift is right. Not only does the show incorporate a random and uncalled for insult to Swift, but the many problematic comments in the show are also just one facet of the failures of this wannabe progressive show.

This faux play on “Gilmore Girls” (2000-2007) begins with Ginny’s (Antonia Gentry) move from Texas with her mother Georgia (Brianne Howey) and brother Austin (Diesel La Torraca) to a “cute,” small town in Massachusetts. In the first few minutes of the series, several different themes are introduced: race, single motherhood, coming of age, and more. Only one thing is clear: too much is going on. It seems like some sort of amalgamation of drama and comedy until the show cuts to random dark scenes that don’t seem to have a place amongst all the other lighter plotlines of high school relationships, friendships, family, and small town life. These dark scenes and flashbacks, which include clips of self harm or sexual assault, are a whiplash-inducing tonal shift from the main elements of the show.

For a show that tries to condemn racism, there seem to be far too many problematic parts. One racist trope in the show is Ginny, the stereotypical mixed race protagonist, living with her white mother. Frequently, mixed race characters presented on television are being raised by their supportive, white parents, which in turn presents the non-white parents as “absent.” This stereotype of mixed raced families is frequently used in Netflix Originals, including “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” (2018), “The Main Event” (2020), and “The Baby-Sitters Club” (2020-). Georgia’s whiteness, in addition to the town they live in, presents the show through an extremely whitewashed lens.

Another controversial aspect of “Ginny & Georgia” is showcased in a clip going around social media which viewers titled the “oppression Olympics.” In the scene, Ginny and her half-Taiwanese boyfriend, Hunter (Mason Temple), hurl hurtful, biased insults at each other. Ginny first affronts Hunter by saying he is barely even Asian, and he later retorts by saying, “I’ve never seen you pound back jerk chicken.” They tear each other down using racist comments, reducing both to prejudiced stereotypes rather than people. The actors also said in a later interview that these insults weren’t even scripted. The actors were told to make them up, which they did based on their own past experiences. This scene is over the top and offensive, which sparked an intense backlash on social media. Neither the actors nor characters are developed or advanced enough for the scene. Additionally, the dialogue exemplifies the feeling that the characters are just used as pawns by Netflix for their races, as the scene uses racism to create conflict.

It seems as though every character in the show is used to represent a different minority, and each character seems to come with a different, undeveloped background, which leads to lots of confusion about each character and very little screen time to get to know each one.

Of course, racism, sexism, self harm, and sexual assault are issues that should be discussed in the media, but putting all these heavy subjects together in 10 episodes makes for the mess that is “Ginny & Georgia.” Now that streaming is so popular, Netflix has created a brand with all their new originals, including “Ginny & Georgia,” that can’t help but try way too hard. If Netflix wants to attract viewers, all they really have to do is bring back “The Office” (2005-2013).

The show can’t even get the relationships straight. Ginny and Georgia are first portrayed as having a great mother-daughter relationship as Georgia says in the first episode, “We are like the Gilmore Girls.” However, their relationship is always on and off in such a jarring way, which just leaves the viewer with the impression that the relationship is toxic and lacks logic.

Moreover, though it may seem natural for young viewers to support the protagonist during such arguments with parents, the scriptwriters make both characters inconsistent and difficult to like. Ginny seems to act extremely shallow with her new friends in one moment, and then she seems to be genuinely enjoying herself in the next. Her personality is constantly changing. The show makes it seem as though Ginny has such a convoluted background, but since none of it is presented in the show, no one really knows who Ginny is. She obviously has complicated mental health issues, but if the show is going to show clips of her self harm, it should explain why or at least provide context about her mental health instead of just cutting to these dark moments.

Scenes of Georgia’s tough backstory are scattered throughout the show as well, serving to make her character more confusing. The background scenes of her getting abused or being homeless are trying to incite empathy, but that’s hard when she does pretty demented things like have her six-year-old son punch another kid in the face or when she seems to get everything too easily through her pretty privilege, southern accent, and smile. All these actions are normalized in the show when they really are not normal, and the audience is asked to accept a lot of contrived plot lines without characters to root for.

Barely entertaining enough to watch while procrastinating on homework, “Ginny & Georgia” only manages to catch viewers’ attention through the attractive, stereotypical, “boy next door” male lead. Additionally, it’s always important to normalize minorities on mainstream TV, but “Ginny & Georgia” includes this representation in an extremely poor and problematic way. It’s crucial to support shows and characters having progressive values, but when it’s overdone, it seems really fake. Hey, Netflix, stop putting on this progressive mask just because it’s trendy.