Content warning: The following recap contains mild descriptions of self-harm.
Ginny & Georgia has more than a few major commonalities with Gilmore Girls — the series Netflix's new dramedy has been compared to over and over. Both shows are about the dynamic between a pop culture savvy thirtysomething teen mom and her now-teen daughter living in a tight-knit New England town — and, well, both shows have two "G" words in the title. But while Gilmore is filled with feelings and good old-fashioned family drama, Ginny and Georgia's Scandal-level twists and Degrassi-style soap opera melodrama set it apart from your typical teen fare. And unlike Gilmore Girls, this small town isn't entirely populated by WASPy moms and their Stepford children.
Sure, there's a Gilmore Girls-esque vibe to the whole thing — but there are way more cliffhangers, and there's way more Degrassi-style WTF drama than anything that once aired on the WB. (This is particularly helped by the fact that three cast members put in time on Degrassi: The Next Generation and Degrassi: Next Class — yes, this show filmed in Toronto, how did you guess?)
Antonia Gentry (as seen on Raising Dion) stars as the titular Ginny, a 15-year-old who moves with her younger brother and vivacious mom, 30-year-old Georgia (Brianne Howey), from Texas to the tiny Massachusetts town of Wellsbury after the sudden death of Georgia's husband. And although Wellsbury seems to promise a picture-perfect idyllic life, there's plenty of salacious drama to be had.
Episode 1: "Pilot"
You know how Millennials are really mad that Gen Z has deemed side parts and skinny jeans uncool? They're going to have an even harder time grasping the fact that they are unequivocally in the parental demo for this show. (Sorry!) But the sooner Millennial viewers face this fact the better; the alternative is getting absolutely leveled by some of the pop culture references meant to denote that Millennials are old and kinda-sorta out of touch. But with that settled, it's time to jump in to the drama.
Our saga begins at a funeral, where the glamorous Southern belle Georgia is mourning the death of her husband, Kenny (Darryl Scheelar) — and Kenny's ex-wife is lamenting that this pretty young thing is about to inherit her yoga entrepreneur ex's fortune. No matter to Georgia, who loads teenage daughter Ginny and 9-year-old Harry Potter-obsessed son Austin (Diesel La Torraca) into her black BMW convertible and hits the road in search of an idyllic life in New England.
Georgia likes to make fresh starts after her relationships end, so she's picked the Stars Hollow-esque picturesque town of Wellsbury, Massachusetts, which really is like the home of the Gilmore Girls — one Main Street, neighbours who become instant BFFs, lush foliage, the vibe of if "Paul Revere boned a pumpkin spice latte," according to Ginny — except slightly less WASPy. On the way North, both Ginny and Georgia bristle as a cop walks by them. Ginny, because as a half-Black teenage girl she realizes that racism is as rampant in the North as it is in the South, it's just simmering under the surface rather than blatantly obvious; Georgia, because a flashback shows her surviving a fraught, dangerous, abusive childhood.
But Wellsbury seems okay at first. Ginny immediately clocks the hot bad boy from across the street sneaking out of his house, though we first meet him getting caught smoking weed by his mom. This is Marcus (Felix Mallard), and his mom is Ellen, aka Schitt's Creek gem Jennifer Robertson. Georgia introduces herself to Ellen, who is stunned to discover that Georgia is, in fact, Ginny's mother and she had Ginny at age 15.
For another reminder that Georgia is not a regular mom (she's a young, cool mom), when Georgia can't sleep she tries a variety of different solutions: her vibrator (it needs to be charged), wine, her vibrator again (while it's plugged into the wall charging), wine again, loading a gun, plucking her eyebrows, and finally buying some weed off of bad boy Marcus. The next day she's fresh as a daisy, wearing a hot pink clubbing dress to drop Austin off at school — while giving him a pep talk that Ron Weasley is a wuss and he's going to do great. Remember, she's a cool mom! She meets the mean girl moms of Austin's classmates and immediately clocks how they operate. To fit in with them, she picks up a fancy new purse that they'll like. It's a good idea, though her card is declined because Kenny's ex-wife is contesting the will; Georgia ends up stealing a purse instead.
Meanwhile, at the high school, Ginny's English teacher is being both condescending and vaguely racist as he implies Ginny won't be able to handle the AP class and keeps calling her "Virginia" even though she corrects him constantly. But Ginny can handle herself — she's not necessarily as sweet and friendly as her mom seems, but she is super-smart and capable of projecting confidence (even if she doesn't necessarily feel it) as she calls out the teacher for a syllabus full of mostly white men. A clearly very popular girl, Maxine (Sara Waisglass — Degrassi alum No. 1), backs her up. Between classes, Ginny flirts with Marcus until Max introduces herself and apologizes for her twin brother.
While friendly, Max is a lot, and after introducing Ginny to her crew at lunch she babbles all about her interests and being bummed that Ginny is straight (Max is gay, having come out of the closet at 9 when she announced she liked Barbie's boobs). This goes on until a cute popular guy, Hunter (Mason Temple), tells Max to chill.
It's time for Degrassi alum No. 2: That would be Raymond Ablack, who plays Joe, the owner of the local restaurant whom Georgia meets just before she has a meet cute with the town's dreamy mayor, Paul Randolph, played by Jason Street himself (Scott Porter, for you non-Friday Night Lights-watching philistines). Max tells Ginny all about Mayor Paul when the teens spot Georgia chatting with the politician after school. "Thirsty moms throw their twats at him,” says Max, because, just a reminder, this show is edgier than Gilmore Girls. Actually, later, when Ginny is getting ready for her first date with cute popular guy Hunter, she even tells her mom she's trying too hard to be edgy. It's not not true, but it does establish the relationship between Ginny and Georgia — Georgia has a huge personality and is prone to flights of fancy, so Ginny has positioned herself as the wise, grounded one in their relationship. This is why Georgia gets so freaked out when she sees Ginny flirting with Marcus, and even boldly kissing him.
It reminds her of a flashback to meeting Ginny's dad, a handsome 17-year-old named Zion (Kyle Bary) she met at a bar (yes, at age 15) whom she joins on his adventurous gap year road trip across the U.S. She thinks Ginny is just like her, and she wants Ginny to find a cute nerd instead of falling for the artsy "Shawn Hunter" bad boy. (That's a Boy Meets World reference, if you are a youth and never knew the wonder of Rider Strong.) Later she apologizes, and it's clear she's just worried about Ginny making the same mistakes she once did.
When Georgia picks up Austin from school, she discovers his beloved Harry Potter glasses are broken. The next morning, she confronts the kid who broken them, threatens him, and has Austin punch him in the face — then brings him to his mother, who is of course the meanest of the mean moms, Cynthia Fuller (Sabrina Grdevich). She gets Cynthia back later at the school board meeting, when she comes up with a brilliant fundraiser idea that also catches the eye of hot Mayor Paul. Afterwards, Georgia bonds with Ellen while smoking the weed she confiscated from Marcus, and fills Ellen in on their family situation: Ginny's dad, Zion, is a lovely artist, while Austin's dad is in prison for fraud — but not to worry, he was framed. How does she know? She's the one who framed him.
Despite Ginny's scorching hot chemistry with Marcus, Ginny says "yes" when Hunter asks her on a date. Things go well enough, though Ginny word vomits when they say goodbye so they awkwardly hug instead of kissing. (This would have been Ginny's second kiss, after the first one she laid on Marcus a few days prior.) But back in her bedroom, Marcus climbs through the window and one thing leads to another, and before they know it they've rounded third base and slide straight into home plate. It's Ginny's first time, but Marcus leaves before she can tell him.
A flashback shows Ginny and Georgia in the recent past doing yoga with Kenny. When Georgia leaves, Kenny inappropriately touches Ginny as he corrects her form (we'll call it what it really is: sexual assault of a minor), despite Ginny repeatedly telling him to stop. When she returns, Georgia interrupts them and then simply snips a flower from the same plant we saw her unpack earlier and puts it in Kenny's smoothie. After he drinks it, he has a heart attack and dies.
At school, Ginny reveals in a voiceover that she finally realizes what her mom likes about having control over men — it's the power. Ginny then makes a power play of her own by going over to Marcus and his girlfriend in the hallway and acting like she's going to say something about them having sex — but she doesn't. She just wants Marcus to sweat — and he does. He's totally hooked on her.
Episode 2: "It's a Face not a Mask"
A crisis is afoot in the Miller household — one that has Georgia waking Ginny up screaming at 5 a.m. — she can feel a hair on her chin. Ginny helps her remove it, but thinks seriously about the kind of armor that beauty can provide — for her mother, it's both armor and a weapon. Ginny feels uncomfortable with her identity in general, since sometimes she feels she's not white enough for the white kids and not Black enough for the Black kids. And while there are plenty of non-white people in Ginny's new school, there's definitely tension that we can see as Max and her friends, Abby (Katie Douglas) and Norah (Chelsea Clark, Degrassi alum No. 3!), give Ginny the Mean Girls rundown of the school. Lots of (white) kids stop Ginny in the hallway — asking her about why she looks so exotic or informing her that they're totally "woke" — though Ginny does entertain and appreciate the overture from a Black classmate who invites her to join field hockey or student leadership or just hang out sometime. Oh, and that dick English teacher from the first day of school? He continues to be a dick by touting Hunter's perfect score on the pop quiz as the score to beat — no mention of Ginny also getting 100 percent or the fact that she is the top student in the class.
That night, after Ginny buys Plan B (she's responsible!), she and Max "go to the movies," and by "movies" they mean a party in a basement where Ginny smokes weed for the first time. This spurs a conversation in which Georgia introduces Ellen to the concept of finstas — because Georgia is so young and hip, she absolutely knows that the girls are not dressed that nicely to go sit in a movie theater for a few hours.
At the "movies," Hunter's ex-girlfriend is there to tell Ginny all about how she and Hunter dated through eighth grade and lost their virginities to each other (this seems early, right?) and that he has the second biggest dick of all their friends (they all measured last summer). The ex also wants to know which of Ginny's parents is white, and wants Ginny to know that she plans to marry a Black man so she "can have mixed babies." Ginny somehow manages not to curl into the fetal position from all the cringe, but that's also probably because she's so incredibly high that she gives a big monologue about the differences between the Star is Born movies and everyone laughs.
When she gets home, she tells her mom about the party ("You never had friends to lie to me about before," Georgia responds). Once they go to bed, Ginny pulls out a lighter and burns her inner thigh. Just because Ginny projected confidence at the pharmacy and when everyone was laughing at the party doesn't mean it didn't completely sting. It doesn't help that the next day at school, she trips with a tampon in her hand and accidentally throws it directly in Hunter's face. Since he is a beautiful angel of a teen boy, he's unshaken and actually goes and buys her a salty snack because that's what his sisters usually crave and then asks her out again.
When Max auditions for the play after school (she ultimately gets the lead), Abby and Norah take Ginny shopping for a date outfit — but when Abby steals a bunch of stuff and pressures Ginny to do it too, Ginny's the only one who is stopped on her way out the door. Luckily, Georgia is nearby and gets Ginny safely out of the shop, but not before Abby throws Ginny under the bus. Georgia knows her daughter and doesn't need to be told that the other girls pressured Ginny, so she lightly punishes her daughter by making her get a job at Joe's restaurant.
After talking her way into the job, it's time for Georgia's first day of work with the mayor. Paul and his aide, Nick (Daniel Beirne), inform her that the permit for the weed shop they planned to open in order to inject a much-needed spark into the Wellsbury economy has been rejected. The town planning committee is no match for Georgia, who realizes that mean school mom Cynthia, whose real estate office is right next door from the planned space for Green Gardens, sabotaged the permit. Don't worry, Georgia fixes it and the Mayor falls a little more in love with her (this is not spoken, but is very clear: Mayor Paul has it bad for Georgia).
Austin continues to be a prime target for the bully at school, particularly when the well-meaning teacher gives Austin his show-and-tell spot — and when Austin's presentation is all about how his dad is in jail at Azkaban, he gets laughed out of class. Georgia once again fixes things, because that is what she does, by sending popsicles for the class — with a pack of carrots for Austin's bully along with a note about how his mom won't let him eat sugar.
There are approximately five major reveals at the end of this episode. First, Marcus climbs back in to see if he and Ginny are cool, and she unloads on him. She's insecure about certain things, including that she had to buy her own Plan B but apparently the guy usually does it, and by the way that was her first time. He comforts her, then starts to kiss her — “you took Plan B, right? That lasts another day at least,” he says — before she kicks him out. Her friends then come over to make amends for the whole shoplifting thing, which is nice but somehow a Fenty foundation doesn't really seem like enough to make up for what they did.
Second, a sweet flashback of young Georgia and Zion goofing around at a gas station takes a turn when Zion goes outside to start his motorcycle and Georgia pulls out a gun and holds the place up. Third, it turns out the letters from Austin's dad in prison are actually written by Georgia (not so shocking) and that she's applied for a credit card in Austin's name (definitely shocking). Fourth, another flashback shows young Georgia going back to her abusive stepdad and shooting him, proving that her self-defense instincts have been there for years. And fifth, a private investigator named Gabriel Cordova (Alex Mallari Jr.) tells Kenny's ex-wife the truth about Georgia's real identity: Her real name is Mary, she was born in Alabama, her birth father is serving time for attempted murder, and she lived off the grid from ages 14 to 18 until she went by the name of Georgia Miller (she took Zion's last name though they were never married). Austin's dad is serving time for embezzlement, and there are plenty of gaps in her timeline because she's frequently on the run.
This episode didn't end with a "dun dun dun" sound cue, but it might as well have.
Episode 3: "Next Level Rich People Shit"
It's the sophomore sleepover! Where kids pay $100 to spend the night on the gym floor of the school that they already go to. Georgia is annoyed by the premise but as Ginny points out, "You moved us to this white, rich-ass town." Max is desperate to to the sleepover, and thinks Ellen is the worst mom ever for grounding her after the party; Marcus doesn't want to go because his friends won't be there; and Ginny is confused but along for the ride.
Georgia is dead broke, so volunteers to help Ellen chaperone the night, then tries to convince Nick to watch Austin for the night so she can chaperone. It'll be fun, she says. "You know what's fun? Big Dick Saturdays at Trunks. That's fun," he responds. That does sound like fun. Remember bars? But anyway, since Mayor Paul has a crush on Georgia, he volunteers to watch Austin.
Max has a big ol' crush on her co-star in the musical, and their Bob Fosse-style dance number seems pretty risqué for a high school, but it definitely makes things pretty confusing as she works through her feelings. There's plenty of time for her to talk it out with her pals in MANG — aka the name of Max, Abby, Norah, and Ginny's unfortunately named clique and accompanying group text. Ginny, meanwhile, is wondering whether to ask Hunter if she and her are officially boyfriend and girlfriend. But Max and Ginny aren't the only ones dealing with issues: Abby's parents are loudly fighting all the time, and she has some body dysmorphia issues that have inspired her to duct tape her legs underneath her jeans to give herself a prominent thigh gap.
At the sleepover, Ellen has one goal: that no one dies. She and her fellow chaperones decide they will not be looking for anything as they let the kids into the school — because if they look for stuff, they'll probably find it and have to do something about it. And that is not the goal! The goal is to survive. Though Ellen is definitely worried about Marcus, because last year was very difficult for him.
Inside the gym, it honestly looks like a very cute carnival? There's dancing and popcorn and a DJ and a photo booth, where Hunter and Ginny kiss. Extremely wholesome fun! They even do the Cupid Shuffle. How retro of them. Austin and Paul are also having a wholesome time as Paul, who has no kids, learns how to deal with fickle children. It's a pretty solid night for him, except the part where he discovers Georgia's credit card in Austin's name.
Ginny's fun night goes off the rails when she succumbs to her friends' peer pressure to let a well-meaning mom put her hair into a high pony by brushing it out. This forces Ginny to the locker room to wet it and fix it when the brushing totally ruins her curls. She thinks she's alone in there, but as she takes her shirt off to rinse her hair, it becomes apparent that Marcus is there smoking weed. They banter about why Marcus is such a loner, then do cute Australian accents (actor Felix Mallard is actually Australian, which is cute) and bond while talking about life and their problems. Ginny tells him to check his privilege, but he tells her why he's so messed up — his best friend died last year from cancer. They try to lighten the mood and almost kiss, but scatter when they hear voices.
Things start falling apart with the rest of the group — the teens sneak into a classroom where they drink their contraband booze and play truth or dare, but Abby storms out when she refuses to take off her jeans. Max tries to confess her feelings and kiss her drama crush, but she tells Max she's not gay (though she wishes she wasn't because they would be the hottest couple). Georgia steals some cash from the lock box, but rushes out when she sees Max in tears from her failed declaration of love. Georgia gives Max a pep talk in the locker room where Ginny and Marcus are just about to kiss, and after Max leaves, Ginny has a pretty harsh conversation with her mother in which she accuses Georgia of being jealous because Ginny gets to have the full high school experience that Georgia didn't.
Next comes a flashback to Georgia's teen days, just after she discovered she was pregnant in a rest stop bathroom. We see her bonding with a boy from Wellsbury High School who's down South on a field trip and who shares his sandwich with her — he's Joe. Yes, that Joe! So this is why Georgia moved to Wellsbury... Georgia tells him she once dreamed of having a horse named Milkshake who could fly, and he gives her his Ray Ban sunglasses. She says she'll look him up if she's ever in Wellsbury.
The next morning, everyone has survived the sophomore sleepover. Ellen’s mission is accomplished. Max has a broken heart and Abby's super wasted, but Ginny came out of the night unscathed and Hunter finally asked her to be his girlfriend. But just when Max thinks life is going to suck as a result of her sleepover confession, she meets a hot senior who gives her some flirty advice about trying to kiss someone who wants to kiss her back. Just like that, Max has a new crush.
More to episodes come.