“It was bizarre,” Antonia Gentry, star of Netflix’s new Ginny & Georgia, laughed to Refinery29 over the phone. “I’m very close with my mom in real life. But I was raised a little bit more traditionally. We didn’t really talk too much about that kind of thing.” Gentry was thinking back on the explicit conversations her character, Ginny Miller — whom she describes as an “angsty, confused” high school sophomore — has with her 31-year-old bombshell of a mom, Georgia Miller. At the end of the series’ seventh episode, “Happy Sweet Sixteen, Jerk,” Ginny announces to her mom, “Hunter went down on me.” Hunter, played by Mason Temple, is Ginny’s first boyfriend.
After Georgia sputters over a doughnut due to the new information, mother and daughter get into the sexual politics of the teenage encounter.
Still, there is one intimate secret Ginny keeps from her mother: her premiere episode hookup with her neighbor Marcus (Felix Mallard). That experience is Ginny’s first time having sex. If you were surprised by the scene, you weren’t the only one. Gentry joked that she did a “double take” when she got to the sex scene in pilot episode’s script — but now she sees it as a “culmination” of so many underlying desires rattling around Ginny’s brain.
Ginny is initially just as shocked as we are to see Marcus, a Wellsbury High loner, in her bedroom towards the end of the Ginny & Georgia pilot. Marcus climbs in through the window and interrogates Ginny about her romantic interest in popular nice guy Hunter. Despite Ginny and Marcus’ respective (and respected) love interests, they’re kissing within seconds. Ginny helps Marcus pull her bedtime T-shirt off with ease, before they both kick off their clothes and get into bed. We catch the beginning of the pair having sex, but the camera then allows them some much-deserved privacy. Ginny nearly admits this was her first time, but avoids spilling the truth in an effort to seem experienced. By the end of the season we learn Marcus hadn’t had sex prior, either.
All together, Ginny goes from not even thinking about sex to processing her first time in about three minutes.
“I was not expecting that. At all. And that’s definitely not something I would have done. It’s weird because Ginny is so insecure and she is not used to having all of this attention on her,” Gentry told Refinery29. “But at the same time, she is her mother’s daughter … She wants to feel all of these things. She wants to have friends, have a boyfriend (or a love interest), she just doesn’t quite know how. I think for her it was very impulsive.”
Gentry was happy to see her character “pounce” on exactly what she wants in the moment, adding, “Kudos to her for that!”
As the pilot comes to a close, Ginny mediates on her first sexual experience, savoring the newfound “power” she feels in herself and over Marcus. Since childhood, Georgia has been telling Ginny she could have either that power or passion from a man. Now she knows her preference, and it isn’t flowers and candy.
“Ginny at heart is a romantic … She goes into [sex] thinking she’ll get one thing — passion — but gets something else out of it. And that’s the surprise — the discovery for her,” Genty explained. “Sometimes we think of our virginity and our sexuality as these illusive experiences. For some people it is special. But then for others… it isn’t.”
Ginny, much to her own shock, is part of the latter camp.
This realization proves that jumping into sex — and having a pragmatic, Plan B-buying approach afterwards — is just as valid as the heavily planned and endearingly emotional journey of Ginny’s Wellsbury best friend Maxine (Sara Waisglass). Burgeoning sexuality is a spectrum. “My experiences in high school — it was awkward. I felt vulnerable,” Gentry said. “I was able to tap into that same kind of embarrassment and uncertainty that I know a lot of teenagers will relate to. I hope they feel more seen and less anxious about the whole thing — especially young girls.”
Gentry is quick to point out that she didn’t pull off the hopefully calming arc of Ginny’s sexual adventure alone. Most of the season — including the horny lynchpin that is the pilot — was directed by women; newcomer writer Sarah Lampert created the series. “It’s a story about women. You want to have that trust and unstated understanding between women that when you’re portraying [scenes], you can wholly believe that you are in a safe environment,” Getry explained. “Having female directors behind the camera and also having to be in such intimate and tense moments … It felt like we were all kind of sensitive to it.”
Ultimately, Gentry wants Ginny’s sex scenes, along with the many mother-daughter chats they spark throughout season 1, to lead to better connections for all the teens tuning in. “[For] kids and their parents — or whomever is caring for them — watching the show together, I hope it demystifies [talking about sex]. Because we’ve all gone through that,” Gentry said. “It doesn’t make any sense for us not to have those conversations.”