Film & TV

‘Ginny & Georgia’ Suffers a Netflix-Induced Identity Crisis

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The Netflix business model allows shows to circumvent genre and exist however they choose. Released Feb. 24, “Ginny & Georgia” follows 30-year-old Georgia Miller (Brianne Howey) and her 15-year-old daughter Ginny (Antonia Gentry) as they move to small-town New England, alongside Georgia’s younger son Austin (Diesel La Torraca).

“Ginny & Georgia” is 17 shows at once. It’s a coming-of-age teen dramedy. It’s a soap opera about small town secrets. It’s a Disney Channel comedy about high schoolers. It’s a workplace sitcom. Never once is it fully formed, though.

The show resembles a stream of consciousness, as though the writers room came up with ideas on the spot. If there was a seasonal narrative structure, it’s not very well done. The tonal whiplash creates an unpleasant show. The dialogue isn’t bad and the acting is solid — but the show itself is identity-less. 

The logline for the show reeks of “Gilmore Girls,” but the execution is anything but. “Ginny & Georgia” isn’t feel-good, it’s not funny. In some scenes, it seems like a show targeted at 12-year-olds. In other scenes, it seems like a family show. The TV-MA rating only adds to the confusion. “Ginny & Georgia” is everything all at once, and it’s hard to enjoy such a structurally confusing show.

Ginny’s coming-of-age as a biracial woman is narratively engaging, and the show does alright when it leans into these grounded topics. When the show flips from scenes about Ginny’s school life to tossing hints about the murderous background of Georgia, though, it loses the plot. 

Courtesy of Netflix The 10-episode first season premiered on Netflix Feb. 24.

The soapy plot brims with potential, but it’s so jarringly out of place early on. Only in the last couple episodes does the writers’ room seem to come to a clear conclusion on the show’s genre, leaning into the twisty and foregoing the slice-of-life route. And this accelerates the show’s issues further, almost invalidating its balance between soap and realism.

“Ginny & Georgia” works as an effervescent, high-school dramedy — it doesn’t work as a soapy crime drama. By biting off more than it can chew, all the plots fall into the same narrative black hole.

This problem is a microcosm of the entire Netflix structure. Without pilots, without scrutinous creative teams, Netflix allows shows to flounder on their own. The entire first season is a pilot for the streaming company. 

Pilots are rough and often inconsistent with a show’s future episodes. This is more forgivable when it’s one of 13 to 22 episodes, but not when a show takes its full 10-episode season to find its footing. 

This is especially egregious when Netflix shows are lucky to last past three seasons. If a show spends a third of its life span getting a grip on itself, then it’s a waste.

In a bubble, “Ginny & Georgia” is an imperfect, yet semi-decent show. In the grander scheme, it’s the exact representation of Netflix’s woes. There’s so much television these days — between the networks and a plethora of streaming services —  and nothing makes “Ginny & Georgia” rise above the rest. It’s simply mediocre.

The “Degrassi” audience, even those hungry for “Pretty Little Liars” content may be quenched by “Ginny & Georgia,” but the show’s entirely too-niche direction alienates it in a genreless ditch.

Not to mention, the teens make pop culture references more akin to 2010 than 2021. The girls dress up as different eras of Britney Spears for Halloween, not just “Toxic,” but one dons the “Me Against the Music” music video outfit  — and truly no one outside the Britney army would even know what that is. In a different scene, the teens passionately discuss Lady Gaga, for some reason. 

Most glaringly, Ginny tells Georgia, “You go through men faster than Taylor Swift.” The writers’ room makes references foreign to current 15-year-olds, and that’s an issue when so much of the show is focused on the day-to-day life of 15-year-olds. 

https://twitter.com/taylorswift13/status/1366401657685245955

There’s so much to nitpick, so much to criticize about “Ginny & Georgia.” It’s best enjoyed as a background show to pay mild attention to. If there’s one genre Netflix excels in, it’s “Shows for When You Want to Hear Noise but Don’t Need to Listen to the Words.”

That’s why there’s no real reason to watch “Ginny & Georgia.” If viewers enjoy the soapy aspects, go watch “Riverdale” or “Euphoria.” If viewers like the slice-of-life focus, there’s “grown-ish” and “All American.”

“Ginny & Georgia” is too sloppy, too tonally inconsistent to make an impact. There’s no place in the era of peak-TV for a show with such an unclear identity.

“Ginny & Georgia” is streaming on Netflix.

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