Ginny & Georgia was released on Netflix February 24th, 2021 and instantly became one of the platform's most popular TV shows with over 52 million people streaming the show within the first four weeks.
Watching Ginny & Georgia, you can easily see why people took to the show. It's fun, refreshing, real, and sweet, with a mix of teen drama and adult drama. But Ginny & Georgia also delivers something more important: representation, and shining a light on some of society's social issues. The creators of Ginny & Georgia strive to make a show where everyone is seen and heard.
Spoiler warning: if you haven't watched Ginny & Georgia yet and don't want any spoilers, stop reading now and go watch the show.
Trigger warning: self-harm, racism.
Ginny's mom is white, her dad is black. Ginny's never felt like she fits in anywhere. Ever since she was a little girl, people have been looking at her strange. When she gets to Wellsbury, there are only seven black kids in the whole school and she instantly wonders if she'll ever fit in in the small town where everyone knows everyone.
”I'm too white for the black kids and not white enough for the white kids.” - Ginny
Black women are often stereotyped as lazy and less intelligent. That is definitely the assumption Ginny's new teacher in AP English, Mr. Gitten, makes about Ginny only seconds after meeting her for the first time. Even though Ginny excels in his class, Mr. Gitten refuses to acknowledge her accomplishments, like when after a pop quiz, he tells the class Hunter was the only one who got 100% on the quiz, but when he gives Ginny back her quiz she notices she also got 100%, just like Hunter.
Since no one else reacts to Mr. Gitten's remarks and treatment of Ginny, she starts to question herself and her experiences with him. Even her boyfriend, Hunter, invalidates her feelings and tells her to ”stop causing trouble” in Mr. Gitten's class, implying that the teacher's treatment of Ginny is because of Ginny's behaviour (which it isn't). It isn't until Ginny's bathroom conversation with Bracia that her experiences are finally validated, when Bracia tells her she was in Mr. Gitten's class last year and she also experienced racism from him. The season ends with Ginny calling Mr. Gitten out on his racist remarks towards her.
In the show, you can see how all of this affects Ginny, how it contributes to her feeling invalidated and like she doesn't have a voice.
Toxic masculinity says that men have to be strong, that they can’t show any emotion or show themselves vulnerable, or cry, because it’s not manly.
Marcus challenges all that. He’s not afraid to cry and show his feelings. He’s open and shows himself vulnerable, especially to Ginny, even when he barely knows her. He shows that it’s okay not to be okay, it’s okay to show you’re not okay, and there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Showing that you are struggling with your mental health is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength. You are not less of a man because you show your emotions. You are not less of a man if you show yourself vulnerable. It’s every bit human. It's not a female thing, or a male thing, just human.
One of the first things we learn about Max, short for Maxine, is that she is gay. She is being completely open with it, and pretty much straight away asks Ginny if she’s gay. Max hints at there not being many people in the town who are openly gay. Wellsbury seems like a rather small town, but even so, you could assume there would be more people in Wellsbury who are gay, but who aren't open with it. It’s wonderful to see how comfortable Max is with being openly gay, and no one treats her differently or judges her. It’s how everyone who is LGBTQ should be able to live their lives, without being judged or treated badly, or worse. Love is love. We are all humans.
Mental health and self-harm
In Ginny & Georgia, Marcus is an advocate for men and mental health. The stigma around mental health causes so much unnecessary pain and suffering, and it tends to affect men more than women. Society’s definition of manliness is to be strong and in control. Showing too much emotion is considered not having control, and if you don’t have control, you’re weak and therefore not much of a man. This stigma and this viewpoint of masculinity needs to be left in the past. It is straight up damaging.
In order to break the stigma, we need to talk more about mental health issues. We all need to open up more about it. It is especially vital that men open up about their mental health and really start talking about it, because it shows other men that it’s okay to struggle with your mental health. This is why the character of Marcus is so incredibly important: he does just that. We all have a responsibility to create a safe space where men, and women, can open up about their mental health issues and be met with kindness and understanding.
Ginny is early shown to harm herself by burning her inner thigh with a lighter. She does this whenever all of her emotions overwhelm her which causes her anxiety to go through the roof. Ginny describes it as feeling like her head is going to explode and she doesn’t really know what to do with herself when that happens, but the burning helps her.
”When you don’t have a voice, you have to scream somehow.” - Ginny
The show really gives the viewers a glimpse into why people might self-harm, and hopefully it also gives them a bit more understanding. This is vital, because the stigma around mental health creates shame, which stops a lot of people from getting the help they need. Understanding, on the other hand, can make people feel more safe to open up about their self-harm and seek help.
The way Marcus handles Ginny’s self-harm is another important thing. No one knows about Ginny’s self-harm, until Marcus accidentally catches her doing it. Marcus asks her about it but Ginny panics and becomes very defensive. It all ends with a big fight and Ginny tells Marcus she never wants to see him again.
Once they make up, Marcus tells her about how he, after his friend had died, ended up in a dark place mentally and was scared he might hurt himself, and how he just wanted to scream at people that he needed help. Eventually, he got help and it got better. He continues and mentions Ginny’s self-harm, and tells her that they don’t have to talk about it, but they can, if she wants to scream at him that she needs help. This time, Ginny doesn’t get defensive about it. Marcus told her his story as a way to let her know that he understood, and that he wasn’t judging her. He didn’t try to tell Ginny how she should handle her self-harm or the cause of her self-harm, or that she needed to stop. He didn’t say anything that could cause Ginny to feel ashamed about it. He simply let her know that he understood and all she needed to do was to say she needed help, and he would help her get help. He made Ginny feel safe to open up, if she wanted to. And she did.
Will there be a season 2?
Netflix has already renewed Ginny & Georgia for another season, and hopefully the creators will be able to continue their work with creating a show where everyone feels included. Guesses are it will be released in early 2022 so keep your eyes peeled open.
© 2021 Patricia Sikstroem