Mental Health in the Media: A Review on the Success of Ginny and Georgia Season 2

Content Warning and Disclaimer: This article mentions topics of self harm, depression, and eating disorders. While this article states a review on the success of the show, it in no way is encouraging readers to watch it if that would be triggering for them.

In 2019 the world was rocked with the dramatic show, Euphoria. Audiences everywhere were struck by Rue’s tragic journey and Zendaya’s powerful storytelling. Now, viewers are finding themselves drawn to Netflix’s current number-one trending show, Ginny and Georgia. A mashup of Gilmore Girls, Little Fires Everywhere, and Euphoria, Ginny and Georgia is the story of a free-spirited single mom, Georgia Miller, moving to a Massachusetts suburb with mature teenage daughter Ginny and elementary-aged son Austin following the mysterious death of her most recent husband. 

The show tells the story of a modern mother-daughter relationship as Ginny navigates peer pressure, racism and her biracial identity, self-harm as well as a new high school with teenage relationships and drama. Georgia is portrayed as a cool, young mom, at only 30 years old, while teenage daughter Ginny takes on the role of the responsible one. Free-spirited Georgia is revealed to have had a shady past, leading to a murder investigation throughout season one amidst flashbacks to childhood abuse. 

Georgia in season 1 of Ginny and Georgia. Credit: Refinery29.

While season one focused more on the investigation over the death of Ginny’s stepdad and the transition to their new town, the release of season two this month dives deeper into the mental health struggles introduced in the first season. 

Season two begins with Ginny opening up to her father about her self-harm, leading to her starting therapy. In an interview with “Deadline”, creator Sarah Lampert states, “For Ginny and her self-harm, it was really important for us to show her hit this breaking point and want to get better and seek out help in Season 2 and her journey with that. A very realistic thing with that is relapse. We see that, we see her struggle, we see her relapse, we see her really want to get better, and I think that that’s important to show.” 

The show even depicts a scene where Georgia attends a therapy session with Ginny, not glossing over any of the real steps and experiences families take as they work through healing and therapy. Lampert continues, saying, “It’s really important for us to portray these issues in a realistic way. But we were also very cognizant of our audience in the sense that we’re not trying to be irresponsible or trigger anyone. So we actually have a licensed psychiatrist who reads every script and gives us feedback. And then Mental Health America watches every episode and gives us notes. As well as the writers room itself taking a lot of care, using some personal stories and really trying to approach these topics with honesty but also responsibility.”

Season two also dives deeper into Marcus, Ginny’s neighbor and love interest, and his depression. Lampert states, “For Marcus’ depression, it’s the same thing. This is something that kids that age are going through and are dealing with, and to show it on screen in a way that feels truthful, I think makes a lot of people feel seen and feel represented and de-stigmatized in a way that’s important.”

The show also touches on eating disorders, Lampert states that the show is planning to explore this topic further in the third season. “It was really important for us to not do the thing where something as serious as an eating disorder is wrapped up neatly in a bow and solved by the end of the episode by the end of the season. Because they are so harmful they’re so insidious, and they’re so prevalent that we really wanted to take our time with that story and show how harmful it can be over time.”

In an interview with “Variety”, the showrunner/creative producer Debra J. Fisher builds off of Lampert in the importance of correctly representing mental health struggles on screen. Fisher says, “We’re not a teen issue of the week show. We don’t move on to the next problem. We really wanted to tell these stories over the course of several seasons. It was always about the long game, and just being able to approach mental health, self-harm and depression in a really realistic, grounded way that we hope really resonates with the kids.”

“Everyone’s fighting a battle you can’t see”, Fisher adds and depression can look different on everyone. Specifically with Marcus, Fisher says “We don’t often see depression depicted in a young man, a 16-year-old, and we really wanted to highlight that.”

Ginny and Georgia cast. Credit: Jesse Grant/Showbiz Cheatsheet.

As an important part of the art of storytelling, similar stories have been told through a variety of approaches. Ginny and Georgia’s creators and actors take the responsibility of telling these stories seriously, as these stories can often be unnecessarily triggering or romanticizing in other media. Brianne Howey, who plays Georgia, said in her interview with “The View”, “It’s an enormous responsibility and the writers and actors feel it every step of the way… to make sure we aren’t glorifying anything that should not be glorified… And I also think, especially with the therapy scenes, it’s important to acknowledge the good and the bad parts of our humanity. Whether we like it or not, it’s our jobs as actors to acknowledge both sides. That’s kind of what collectively unites us. ”Ginny and Georgia has received huge praise and success because of the way it respectfully portrays these experiences. This success seems to suggest that what audiences are really looking for right now is to view storytelling done so responsibly that they finally feel seen.

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