There is no doubt that the popular streaming company Netflix has had many controversial titles on their network. From Cuties to Black Mirror, many of their shows faced negative feedback from users of the platform.
The most recent show to face backlash would be the series Ginny and Georgia. The seemingly harmless comedy-drama revolves around a free-spirited mother moving to a new town with her two kids after being on the run from a family secret for years. Georgia is a thirty year old single mother who is quite childish and irresponsible. Ginny is her teenage daughter who feels as if she is more responsible than her mother and is navigating her teenage life, along with her family life as they adjust to their new home. Other characters include Austin, Ginny’s half brother, and Max, Marcus, and Hunter, who are schoolmates of Ginny’s.
Let’s look at the various ways this show went wrong.
Controversy #1: The Taylor Swift joke
One of the top controversies surrounding the show was a damaging joke that it made towards women—using the name of famous singer/songwriter Taylor Swift. The line in question was Ginny telling her mother during an argument: “What do you care? You go through men faster than Taylor Swift.” This dialogue was not only called out by “Swifties”, but Swift herself brought up the joke on Twitter and Instagram, calling it “lazy” and “deeply sexist.” She also pointed out how comments like these are degrading to hard working women.
Though Netflix did not comment on the tweet, the show’s actress, Antonia Gentry, who plays Ginny, did respond with a statement on Instagram after being targeted by many of Swift’s fans. Gentry brought up how her character is “morally flawed” and makes mistakes, thus explaining why she would say a comment like that.
Controversy #2: The Oppression Olympics
Another issue surrounded an argument between Ginny and her boyfriend, Hunter. The two characters are both biracial. Ginny is half-white, half-African American, and Hunter is half-white, half-Taiwanese. They argue about how the other is whiter than they should be. Lines from the argument include Ginny telling Hunter how he is barely Asian, and Hunter saying this about Ginny: “I’ve never seen you pound back jerk chicken…Last time I checked Brody twerks better than you and I liked your poem but your bars could use a little more work homie so really how black are you then?” This leads to the infamous and possibly most controversial line from the show: “If we’re gonna play that game, let’s do it. Oppression Olympics, let’s go.” This argument was a response to Ginny facing racism from her teacher that caused them to argue about how POC should be treated, but they did not portray the issue in a serious way to shed light on the harsh realities that many people of color face.
Controversy #3: Writing and the Portrayal of Race
Though the show was originally commended for having a diverse cast, that changed when the show itself was released. The diverse cast of characters were put into positions where they were faced with many racial microaggressions which showed the POC experience in a predominantly white town. However, the racism brought up strays away from the main narrative of the show, and is not given the attention it deserves.
The diversity of the cast was also a bit of a cover for the fact that the majority of the writers of Ginny and Georgia are white. This prevents the accurate portrayal of many key issues that POC, specifically African American people, face in terms of racism and the psychological effects of it.
These issues opened the eyes of viewers and have contributed to a debate over what content Netflix should be releasing in this day and age. For many, the current representation of both women and POC is not satisfying to say the least. Netflix has already been under fire for cancelling many shows starring people of color, one of which was Patriot Act starring Indian-American host, Hasan Minhaj. It was a surprise that a seemingly harmless TV comedy-drama was what set off the most backlash in terms of representation and stereotypical “humor.” Due to these controversies over representation, Ginny and Georgia, has the title of the show with an identity crisis.