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Let’s clear something up: Netflix’s new series Ginny & Georgia is not Gilmore Girls. Yes, both stories center on a single mother and her teen daughter and take place in a small, charming town—but that’s where the similarities end.
For one, the new 10-episode dramedy leans much more into the drama than the residents of Stars Hollow did. The series, which premieres Wednesday, February 24, has a lot more mystery and teen angst, and it doesn’t shy away from the complexities of being a woman, especially a woman of color, in 2021. At the center is Georgia Miller, a 30-year-old mom of two who isn’t averse to moving her children (15-year-old Ginny and 8-year-old Austin) at the first sign of trouble (or a new love interest).
Ginny & Georgia doesn’t sugarcoat just how tumultuous all of this is for the single mother and her teen daughter. Though the series is highly bingeable, it’s not exactly an easy watch.
“We live in a man’s world,” Georgia (Brianne Howey) says at one point in the series. “I learned that from a very young age. It is exhausting to exist in a world not designed for you. A world that doesn’t take you seriously. A world where you matter less.”
Those words resonate in every episode, as Georgia proves she’s willing to do anything to protect her family and give them the life she never had—even if it means breaking the law. It’s a role Howey jumped at the chance to play after her series The Passage was canceled in 2019. “When one door closes, the door that opens next is always bigger and better,” the actor tells Glamour. “I feel like I’m where I was meant to be.”
Same goes for Antonia “Toni” Gentry, who plays Ginny. The young actor had just graduated from Emory University in Atlanta when she got the role. “It ended up happening a bit faster than I planned, so I was very excited,” she says. “My original plan was to pay my bills and audition as much as I could until I got something.”
The chemistry between Howey and Gentry is the main reason you won’t be able to turn away from Ginny & Georgia, even if the plot sometimes veers a bit off the rails. (To avoid spoilers, I’ll refrain from saying more.) But one thing is certain: Gilmore Girls or not, Ginny & Georgia deserves your attention. Here, Howey and Gentry explain why.
Glamour: What do you think of all the Gilmore Girls comparisons?
Brianne Howey: I love Gilmore Girls! It’s incredibly flattering. I grew up watching it, and my mom and I compared ourselves to them. But this is not Gilmore Girls. It’s edgier, it’s darker. Tonally it’s different, the messaging is different. I would say there’s a little bit of Desperate Housewives meets Pretty Little Liars.
Toni Gentry: Definitely those. That was the one! [Laughs.]
Brianne: And Little Fires Everywhere is a great one that keeps coming up too.
What do you remember about the first time you met?
Brianne: I remember seeing this beautiful, petite, young woman with gorgeous eyebrows. She gave me a hug, and I felt like I was at home. I looked around the room, and it was all women. It was our creator Sarah Lampert, the showrunner Debra Fisher, the casting people, executive producers, directors. I have never been in an audition experience where the majority of people in the room were all women. It was incredibly empowering and exciting.
Toni: Same. I had gone in and was very, very nervous, but Sarah, Deb, and [director and executive producer] Anya Adams made it so welcoming. I read with 20 actresses who were called in to test for the role of Georgia, and Brianne was the last one. She was it. She walked in, turned on that smile—which is part of Georgia’s charm, but it’s also who Brianne is. She’s so gorgeous and talented and beautiful inside and out. I forgot it was an audition. It’s been like that ever since.
You’re both closer in age than your characters, so what is your dynamic like off-screen?
Toni: Brianne’s only eight years older than I am. [Laughs.] My own brother is much older than I am. More like a Georgia kind of age difference than Brianne is to me.
Brianne: I have a bigger age gap with my siblings than I do with Toni. I would say it’s less mother-daughter and more friends and sisters.
The show does a good job of exploring microaggressions in our culture—something that Toni has written about in her own life. What do you hope viewers take away from Ginny and Georgia’s story?
Toni: I think Ginny has such a specific story, but it’s in specificity that we find universality. I think that’s why the show will resonate across the board and speak to a lot of people of different backgrounds. Particularly for Ginny’s background, it felt so refreshing to be able to authentically portray a person who I relate to, in a way that I haven’t necessarily been able to experience in my childhood. Ginny goes through a lot of identity crises, sexual exploration, racial exploration. I think it’s really important to normalize these conversations and to show the complexities, especially in a multiracial family.
My own mother is a Black woman from Jamaica, and Ginny’s mom is a white woman. So even that is a different scenario altogether, in how a young biracial girl will grow up. I think we all can learn. I learned, and it was phenomenal.
Brianne: What stood out to me was the realization that it’s getting harder and harder to grow up nowadays with social media platforms. Those weren’t around when I was in junior high and high school, so the level of self-awareness and comparison and bullying that is going on…I think kids have it harder and harder. I am so incredibly proud of Toni that despite any of that, she carries herself with such grace. She is able to understand that everyone has their burden to bear, and she’s still nothing but kind and wonderful. She does that also as Ginny.
There’s that one scene where Ginny’s friends brush her hair and it frizzes, and she has to go wet her hair in the shower in order to help reshape the curl. I thought that was incredibly powerful to see on screen.
Toni: I cried when I read that in the script—100% cried. It is a funny situation, but it’s not meant to be amusing. It’s one of those tiny aspects of life where you realize not everything is always set up for you. I think that scene will speak to a lot of young women.
Ginny & Georgia is now streaming on Netflix.
Jessica Radloff is the West Coast editor at Glamour. You can follow her on Instagram at @jessicaradloff14.
Originally Appeared on Glamour