NETFLIX GOES FULL GIRL POWER WITH MIXED RESULTS – At The Movies With Kasey
When a show is declared “the new Gilmore Girls,” I take notice. Although I found that Ginny & Georgia’s similarities peaked with the single teen mom backstory, I think the Netflix show is smart, clever, and incredibly dramatic in a fun way.
The soap opera begins with Georgia (Brianne Howey) and her children, Ginny (Antonia Gentry) and Austin (Diesel La Torraca), moving to a small New England town after the sudden death of her wealthy husband. While Georgia secretly deals with conflict over the will, her scandalous past, and family drama, Ginny tries to finally build friendships and put down roots after a childhood of moving around. Like mother, like daughter, Ginny and Georgia both get involved in love triangles, too. The plot is convoluted, racy, mysterious, and the kind of popcorn bingewatching show I want at the end of a long day. It also has some great references, fast dialoge and beautiful sets. It isn’t as whimsical as Gilmore Girls or as outlandish as Pretty Little Liars, but feels somewhere between those two shows.
Ginny & Georgia features a strong ensemble cast. Scott Porter, who you may know from Friday Night Lights, plays Gerogia’s love interest, Mayor Paul Randolph. He plays it charming and clean cut but with definite hints that there may be a darker edge to what he’s capable of. In contrast, Raymond Ablack plays Joe, the owner of a local farm and cafe, with a fun sarcasm that belies a real sweetness at the character’s heart. Among the many dramatic teen characters, Sara Waisglass’s Maxine at first annoyed me very much, but as she settled into the character, I was drawn to the vulnerability that she brought along with the Max’s quippiness. In contrast, Katie Douglas’s Abby would be easy to overlook if Douglas was not so good at brooding.
Ginny & Georgia was created by Sarah Lambert and runs for 10 episodes. It is rated TV-14.
Also on Netflix, Moxie features director Amy Poehler as a once-rebellious mother to a daughter, Vivian (Hadley Robinson) who is inspired by her zine-writing, frequently protesting past and creates a zine, Moxie, to draw attention to sexism at her school, sparking a movement in the process. As Vivian’s zine brings her out of her shell, she winds up with a new boyfriend, Seth (Nico Hiraga), and caught between her new friends, especially Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Peña), and her lifelong best friend, Claudia (Lauren Tsai). Macia Gay Harden also stars as Principal Shelly.
There’s the meme of Amy Poehler as the cool mom from Mean Girls but in this movie, she really does play the cool mom. Her character has some of the better lines, including my favorite, “You can’t talk to me that way; I’m your mother and a person.” Moxie is big on respect and that ethos comes from the strong maternal character that creates a backdrop for the story. Often, however, Vivian fails to really respect other people’s experiences, and although she is eventually called out for it, her self-centeredness hints at one of the bigger problems with the film—it focuses too much on Vivian.
Vivian is surrounded by a host of interesting, intelligent female characters, including her two friends. The movie tries to be intersectional, looking briefly at how Lucy’s experience is impacted by her race and Claudia’s by being the child of immigrants, but it puts at its center one of the least interesting characters. In doing so, the story opens itself up to criticisms of tokenising these interesting women of color. I think the whole story would have been better if either Vivian was less of a shrinking violet or was developed more as a character before she finds her moxie OR if the story had been told through the eyes of Lucy or Claudia. Then, in the third act, the movie takes up a charge of rape at the school, too quickly resolving the plotline to go back to Vivian’s experience. There is a lot of fun girl power energy in the movie, but sometimes the attention given to more serious issues is too fleeting.
Despite these issues and the definite Gen X energy to a very Gen Z-focused story, I enjoyed Moxie. The performances are great, particularly from Alycia Pascual-Peña. The soundtrack is outstanding. I fully imagine that this is the type of movie Leslie Knope would want to watch and discuss with her daughter.
Moxie was directed by Amy Poehler and written by Tamara Chestna and Dylan Meyer based on the novel by Jennifer Mathieu. It runs 1 hr 51 minutes and is rated PG-13.
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