Review: Darkness lurks behind light in surprising 'Ginny & Georgia'

Netflix series asks several 'what if?' questions, and the answers are surprising

Tom Long
Special to The Detroit News

What if the Gilmore Girls had guns?

What if Meadow Soprano had been half-Black?

Brianne Howey and Antonia Gentry in "Ginny & Georgia."

What if all those kids on “Euphoria” were just a bit less naked and drugged?

These kind of questions can pop up while watching “Ginny & Georgia,” the decidedly offbeat new Netflix dramedy. The show often has the teen sheen of a classic WB series — high school romantic triangles, the hot bad boy, mean girls cliquishness — but there are a few big differences.

Number one: The feisty sexy Mom in this story? She’s a psychopath. A mostly well-intentioned psychopath, but still.

That mom would be Georgia (Brianne Howey). Georgia ran away from an abusive home when she was 14, got pregnant and had Ginny (Antonia Gentry) at 15. Now Ginny, whose wandering father is Black, is 15. 

After the, er, unexpected death of her latest stepfather — there have apparently been many — perennial social outcast Ginny is moving, along with her younger brother Austin (Diesel La Torraca), to a small New England town to start again. Again.

Georgia, Ginny and Austin move into a cozy home on a leafy street. Georgia soon makes friends with a neighbor, Ellen (wonderful Jennifer Robertson from “Schitt’s Creek”), while Ginny becomes besties with Ellen’s effusive daughter, Max (Sara Waisglass). And everything’s set for hot mom/struggling daughter small town dramatic and comedic struggles.

Which definitely happen. This is the sort of show where people can burst into song or tap dance. Where the independent mom stands up to self-righteous PTA types. Where everybody gathers at one local eatery.

Except… Ginny’s Black, and that matters. The show deals with that, with gay issues, with alcohol abuse, with self-abuse. Nearly every episode begins with Ginny thinking about how hard, dark and relentless her mother is.

And she’s right. The bubbly Georgia is a natural con artist. She wields her sexiness like a weapon. Sometimes it’s cute, sometimes (often) it’s felonious.

Surprisingly, it pretty much all works. The dark secrets (there are many) balance with the apparent fluff, making for an engaging, never-dull series. Maybe the Gilmore Girls should have had guns.

Tom Long is a longtime contributor to The Detroit News. 

'Ginny & Georgia'