The cliffhanger of Season 1 may have seemed hard to come back from, but the way Season 2 ended was a REAL doozy!
The cliffhanger of Season 1 of Ginny & Georgia, where Ginny (Antonia Gentry) ran away with her little brother Austin (Diesel La Torraca) after discovering their mother Georgia (Brianne Howey) murdered her ex-husband Kenny (Darryl Scheelar), may have seemed hard to come back from, but the way Season 2 ended was a real doozy.
The second season began with Ginny, having "borrowed" Marcus' (Felix Mallard) motorcycle, seeking refuge at her father's place and confiding in Zion (Nathan Mitchell) that she had been self-harming to cope with her stresses of her life. While Zion immediately employed outside support for his daughter, Georgia held on hard to the old adage that whining to outsiders about your problems is of no help to anyone. Eventually, and not without its hurdles, Georgia let her defenses down, not only gaining a better understanding of her daughter but also herself, which allowed the two of them a return to center.
"Being able to highlight Georgia, who always has an answer and is always ahead of the game, in a spot where she doesn't really understand her daughter was just a wonderful opportunity to bring therapy into the conversation, for kids, teens, and their parents," says showrunner Debra J. Fisher. "It was also a way to highlight that although Ginny and Georgia are a unit and they're so tight, there's this thing that Georgia will never be able to relate to, like her daughter being biracial."
The heavy focus on mental health was no coincidence for the writers of the series, created by Sarah Lampert.
"We're trying to bring a different lens to mental health and for people not to be afraid to talk about it," says Fisher. "These are really hard times that we're all experiencing and going through. I just think around the world, these themes and struggles are universal, and these are the things that bring us together."
As the season neared its conclusion, Ginny and Georgia had regained trust in each other — in part after the entire Miller family banded together to drive Georgia's violent ex Gil (Aaron Ashmore) out of town — and Ginny agreed to walk Georgia down the aisle at her wedding to Mayor of Wellsbury, Paul Randolph (Scott Porter).
But then stuff really hit the fan. Ginny had barely finished her toast as maid of honor when the police barged in to arrest Georgia for murder. No, not the murder of Kenny, which has been at the center of the storyline for so long, but the mercy killing of her frenemy Cynthia's (Sabrina Grdevich) dying husband Tom.
Here, Fisher talks to Metacritic about the dramatic turns of the season, what lead up to the cliffhanger, and if this is a situation Georgia can claw herself out of.
You isolated every character at the end of Season 1. What was exciting about that as starting ground for Season 2?
Season 1 we spent the entire 10 episodes breaking everyone down, and in Season 2 we really got to spend the whole season building them back up, together. Yes, Georgia gets arrested, but the family unit — Ginny, Georgia, and Austin — are all 100-percent on the same page, which is something we have not seen in two seasons.
You break down Georgia's walls at the end of Season 2. Is she fixed now?
Georgia is a very nuanced, layered character, and I think her being arrested is going to uncover so much more about her character. I really do. I'm knocking on wood right now that we get a Season 3 because Sarah and I, we know what we want to do. There's always more layers of that onion to peel back for her. I just hope we're able to tell those stories.
Regarding her arrest, in your mind, is there a way out? The way it ends, all the facts are laid out and it seems very clear that she's guilty.
I will tell you this: [with] what we have planned, there's always a way. The one thing that I love about this show is that you think it's going to go one way, and it always goes the other way. You think we're going left, but then we take a right turn. Our show is such a rollercoaster, and I can tell you that we do have a way through all of this for Georgia. We have it all figured out.
You paint a picture of why she ends Tom's life, but at the same time she's someone who's under a very watchful eye already. Can you talk a little about Georgia's motivations in that moment?
We had a lot of conversations about this moment. For months and months and months we went back and forth about, will Georgia do this? There was a lot of sides to the conversation. Georgia has an incredibly complicated past with abuse. She moved to Wellsbury to start a new life and get into a new future for her and her family. And the moment where Cynthia stands up for her when Gil [threatens her], that is the moment where Georgia had an affection for Cynthia.
Just like anything else in our show, it's incredibly complicated. It is not black and white. It is gray. So much conversation is going to be around this because she literally murders Tom for Cynthia. I think we always want to be in that place — we want to put our characters into corners. And look, she ultimately gets arrested for murder. She's not getting away with it. I just love to be able to tell really gray-area stories about really complicated, nuanced people. And that was always the thing: If she's going to do it, she's going to get caught and she's not going to be able to get away with it.
Despite the fact that Georgia and Cynthia turned that friendship corner, I assume it's not so clear-cut for Cynthia what happened.
No. I can tell you that when Cynthia discovers this, it will be a very complicated thing for her. It is not going to be easy for Cynthia.
Cynthia is such a foil in Season 1, and in Season 2 she becomes this beautifully fleshed-out character. Did you always know that that's what you wanted to do?
I am obsessed with pairing characters that you would never think would be together. The idea of Cynthia and Joe (Raymond Ablack) — when her husband is about to die and they form a bond and have this little relationship — was born at the end of Season 2, based on what Sabrina brought to the character. And I think people are going to really love this new Cynthia and Georgia. I can't really call it friendship, but their situationship. I just love pairing characters that normally you would never put together, given their past. And look, Cynthia's really honest. They don't like each other, but there's that little thin line between love and hate.
I feel like, in Georgia's mind, it's like Cynthia asks her to end Tom's life. But Cynthia doesn't know that this is what Georgia does.
Correct. She thinks Georgia is a lot of things, stealing money from the mayor's office, but does not know that Georgia's a murderer. I think most people wouldn't think Cynthia was asking to kill her husband, just that she wants the suffering to be over. But for Georgia, that's how she was going to help Cynthia.
Speaking of Joe, should we put the romantic connection between Joe and Georgia to bed, or are we still nurturing that?
I think for Georgia, what's amazing about her character is that she can have so many different kinds of men in her life, with Zion, with Paul, with Joe. We're getting to a place with Zion where he wanted to rekindle this in Season 1, and that was not going to happen, and he's moving on, as you have seen in Season 2. Paul is exactly what Georgia always wanted. He literally represents everything that she would want for her future. And with Joe, those two clearly have the past. He's the reason that she's in Wellsbury. What I love about Season 2 is that in the Joe flashbacks you really get a sense that the two of them are a little bit more alike than we realized. So, we are setting up to continue possibilities. I'll just say that.
Ginny's arc was huge this season. What story were you happiest to tell?
Everything. I'm obsessed with Season 2. The Ginny-Zion arc I'm really proud of. We had always intended to really showcase Zion as a really good dad despite he and Georgia never being together and being apart most of the time. I'm really proud we got to showcase him being close to Ginny, physically, and that first episode when she reveals to him [that she's self-harming] and the two of them break down crying — every time I watch that scene, I break down.
I [also] love Ginny and Marcus being together. All of us can relate to that 16-year-old love and when you can't be together for various reasons. I love MANG. I truly love everything. I love it all. I can't pick just one. I really can't. That's the magic of our show. We have so many things going on.
There was such an emphasis on mental health in Season 2. Why was that important to you in the writers' room?
With our show, it always starts from a deeply nuanced, grounded place with these characters. In the tone of the show, we always dabble in that delicate balance between the light and the dark and the happy and the sad, laughing and crying. In Season 1 we uncovered Ginny's self-harm, and now, in Season 2, with Marcus' struggle with mental health, it was an opportunity to see 16-year-olds have really different perspectives and bring a grounded authenticity to it. We're really proud of it. In Season 1 and in Season 2, we worked with a psychologist, Dr. Taji Huang, and Mental Health America. They watch every episode and they give us thoughts. They know where we're going and what we're doing. I think that working with writers of all different lived experiences, some having these similar issues with mental health, and working with professionals really does give the show that relatable feel. We're so proud of it.
With Austin, in one of the first episodes of the second season, there is a scene where he hugs Zach [Connor Laidman]. What did you want to say there?
We wanted to showcase this side of little Austin — who's been bullied [by Zach] and punches Zach in the face — where, when he finds out that Zach's father is dying, he just wants to give this kid a hug and that changes their whole relationship. Now he and Zach are friends and that's something you never see coming. It's like, wait, Zach and Austin? How do we get there? I just think that is life. You turn a corner and you give someone a hug on a bad day, and then you're friends.
And then Austin sees the mercy killing.
We have so much to unpack with little Austin. Diesel is such a powerhouse. That scene where his mother's been arrested and he starts running after the car screaming, because he thinks somehow he's responsible — he tells Ginny, "I didn't say anything," and she looks at him, like, "What are you talking about?" — his performance is off the charts in that moment. He's running and, literally, I cry so much when I'm on set. I just cry at everything. I'm like, "Diesel, you're so good."
We've got to get Season 3 on the road because Diesel is going to start growing.
I know. He's literally going to be 6 feet tall. He was already a foot taller than [Antonia] when we were doing all this press. I was like, "Well, we'll put you on an apple box, Toni." He is growing like a weed.
This could be a show about people and their issues, in itself, but what do you feel the murder mystery adds to it, other than propulsion?
The murder element, for us, showcases Georgia's past. She has an incredibly complicated past with abuse. Who does that makes her as a person? It's interesting to me to add this other layer of this woman. We talk about the themes of our show as everybody's fighting a battle you can't see, and that it's hard to human. And it adds another deeper, darker layer to the show that no one is who you really think they are. The way our show unfolds, you peel back Georgia's layers and you get down to this raw human. We don't always know exactly what she's going to do. I think that's such an interesting character to have, a lead that is unpredictable in that way. We see a lot of these male characters out there, with Breaking Bad and things like that, and that's Georgia for us.