In short, “Ginny & Georgia” is a parcel, and that’s true long before we started looking into the mysterious box under the floor in a character’s closet. It’s a shame, because the heart of the series – the track that owes most to Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere”, rather than “Gilmore” – is the one that is most interesting. Ginny (the wonderful Antonia Gentry), 15, begins what is simply the latest in a long line of new schools, dealing with teachers who assume she is going to underachieve and classmates who have no problem telling him about the pretty little babies’ they want to have someday. Georgia (Brianne Howey), her 30-year-old mother, is the reason for the whole move; Ginny tells us it’s always about leaving to get away from a man or a new man, but Georgia’s closet is full, not only of insanely chic high waisted pants and secret boxes, but also of metaphorical skeletons. Ginny also has a little brother, but as the title of the series suggests, he’s less of a character than a plot; More important are his new friends, most notably his chaotic-good neighbor Max (Sara Waisglass, charming enough to make Max only a little exhausting) and Max Marcus’ brooding twin brother (Felix Mallard). There’s also Hunter, a boyfriend from Dreamboat High School (promising newcomer Mason Temple), so likable that even his choice to lead a tap dance flashmob can’t diminish him in the eyes of his peers.
This is the Ginny half of “Ginny & Georgia” – the story of a smart, driven young woman whose desire for stability and normalcy is often at war with more reckless teenage impulses and not a small amount of confusion and of self-loathing. (Some of the issues Ginny and her friends face are race, class, sexuality, self-harm, and eating disorders.) Lampert, Fisher, and company are at their disposal. best when writing for Ginny, and Gentry doesn’t miss a beat; it’s a performance that manages to be serious without ever becoming saccharine, and wanders through loaded territory without crossing the line of self-indulgence. The writers and Gentry together do a particularly enjoyable job of capturing the endless conflicting impulses that make being 15 such a nightmare and thrill; Ginny often has a hard time understanding herself, but it’s clear that Gentry knows her intimately.
In the Georgian half of the debate, things are considerably more difficult. It’s hard to go directly without revealing much of the plot, but imagine Lorelai Gilmore’s backstory was a Don Draper-style facade and you’ve got the right idea. It is in the development of the Georgia character that you feel the algorithm at work the most; tone, rhythm, style, and depth are so far removed from Ginny’s story that it’s hard to imagine the two sons started in the same place. Howey’s engaging presence makes the scenes between Georgia and Ginny and Georgia and her neighbor Ellen (Jennifer Robertson from “Schitt’s Creek”) relatively compelling, but there is so much going on that almost any actor would struggle to create something textured but cohesive out of the mess. By the time the sixth episode rolls around things are starting to gel and Howey is never anything less than a game (and gloriously costumed). I’m glad I stayed there to make it happen, so if you like the rest of the show, know that you’ll have to do it for about half a season.
For some, it will take way too long to just release something. Still, it’s better to overdo it with such a character than too little. Ginny is awesome, Georgia is messy, and the little brother wears Harry Potter glasses and knows how to punch. If you can be patient with them then “Ginny & Georgia” is worth a try. Otherwise, fear not: the algorithm will eventually get you.
Eight episodes reviewed for review. Now available.