Ginny & Georgia Season 2 Is a Shining Example of Modern Teen Dramas

TV Reviews Ginny and Georgia
Ginny & Georgia Season 2 Is a Shining Example of Modern Teen Dramas

If there was ever a time when teen dramas took themselves seriously, it is solidly dead and gone. The last few years in the genre gave given way to shows like the Gossip Girl reboot, Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, and everything from Season 3 and beyond of Riverdale. While they all accomplish the feat in different ways, each of these shows has a level of self-awareness that allows them to have ridiculous dialogue and plot threads that the average viewer will see and scream “WHAT?” at the screen about. It may be a product of the social media age, but Archie Andrews lamenting about the “epic highs and lows of high school football” while in a juvie prison yard had some sort of secret sauce that made people talk.

At first glance, Ginny & Georgia is just another show that got a second season off the back of a viral moment. After the show’s “Oppression Olympics” scene made the rounds on Twitter, the show was renewed, but underneath that horrible (for reasons within the show and outside of it) scene, Ginny & Georgia is full of well-written, complex characters. For all of the things that the first season mishandled, a second season was a chance to right those wrongs.

If there’s one thing to be said about this new season, it’s that the most important criticisms of the last season were taken in stride. Within Ginny’s deep mental and emotional turmoil, Season 1 showed her going through a crisis over her racial identity, something that any biracial person can relate to, especially with a white parent. Season 2 does a lot of work to expand on that while also letting Ginny embrace that part of her identity. Her relationship with her father and his family gets more screen time, and we expand upon her relationship with her group of Black friends at school as well—which is incredibly satisfying because Ginny really needed some Black friends. While I wish the group as a whole got more screen time, Bracia’s recurring D/E plot was wonderful, and I hope that we see more of her. We also explore the next leg of Ginny’s conflict with her racist AP English teacher, and the conclusion of that storyline isn’t sugar-coated, either. Anyone who was in an Honors or AP class in high school knows how white they are, and there’s a unique experience that is exclusive to students of color where they are responsible for their own learning and the learning of their peers when it comes to matters of race. That often expands to the people who are supposed to be teaching these children, and Ginny & Georgia shows the truth of that instead of pretending everything always works out.

While there are plenty of teen shenanigans (why does everyone wear crop tops in the Massachusetts winter? Why don’t these high schoolers know what Hot Topic is? Why is Max able to behave like that and not be the most hated person in the entire student body?) the real core of the show is the mother/daughter relationship that the title characters navigate. For them, Season 2 is incredibly cathartic to watch. There are multiple scenes where Antonia Gentry proves that she’s a top-tier actor, specifically when she reveals to her father how horribly she’s been struggling. Gentry absolutely nails what it’s like to have a panic attack and break down, and she’s able to do that for every single moment where Ginny is at her most emotionally vulnerable. She is only amplified by Brianne Howey in the scenes where Ginny and Georgia are finally, truly vulnerable with each other. This show would be nothing without it’s writing in these scenes, because as much as Ginny was seen as ungrateful by a lot of the audience throughout the first season, the mother-daughter duo is now given the space to hash out their issues with each other and start to recover from their separate and enmeshed traumas without their progress being hindered by another fight that goes nowhere. There will always be drama for drama’s sake in teen shows, it’s a staple of the genre, but Ginny & Georgia knows where that drama belongs, and it’s not anywhere near the emotional healing both of these women are trying to do.

All that said, there is always room for improvement. Making the assumption that there will be a Season 3 (you can never know these days), it would be great if we actually made it all the way through a plotline that wasn’t about the core members of the show. Sure, Bracia’s little romantic subplot had a full arc, but we’re still waiting for any real progress with the eating disorder storyline that the show is past teasing for Abby. It would also be nice to see Max doing something outside of a romantic subplot, because despite being significantly more tolerable in the back half of the 10-episode season, she seems unable to show a lot of personal growth when she’s pining after someone. Really, all of the best tertiary members of the cast—Bracia, Padma, and Abby especially—have the range to be written just as complexly as the main characters of the show, and seeing them dig deeper is something that would only make the show better.

In truth, Ginny & Georgia might be the best that the newest generation of teen dramas has to offer. The moments that make you yell at your screen because you can’t believe they made them all the way past the cutting room floor are perfectly balanced with the emotional center of the series and the trauma it showcases, and this season manages to be even better than the last. In the age of Riverdale giving us a musical episode every other week with almost no substance to back things up, a solid, intricate story that is ultimately about a mother and daughter trying to survive all that life throws at them is all we can ask for and more—and there will hopefully be more to come.

Ginny & Georgia Season 2 premieres Thursday, January 5th on Netflix.

Kathryn Porter is a freelance writer who will talk endlessly about anything entertainment given the chance. You can find her @kaechops on Twitter.

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