How Season 2 of ‘Ginny & Georgia’ tackles mental health

While it’s not perfect, it is a good start

Season 2 of "Ginny & Georgia" presents a more accurate portrayal of mental health and therapy. (Abby Luciano)

Season 2 of “Ginny & Georgia” presents a more accurate portrayal of mental health and therapy. (Abby Luciano)

Trigger warning: this article contains details discussing self harm, anxiety, and depression. If you or someone you know needs support, the 24/7 Talk Suicide Canada hotline is 1-833-456-4566, the BC Crisis Centre hotline is 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE), or call 310-Mental Health at 310-6789. Help is available, please reach out. 

Representation in the media is so important, and this includes mental health. Oftentimes people with mental illnesses portrayed in the media resemble negative stereotypes such as violent, crazy, or viewed as weak for seeking help. 

However, the recent season of Netflix’s comedy-drama “Ginny & Georgia” shines a light on a number of mental health issues in a more accurate representation. Some of the issues Season 2 covers are self harm, anxiety, and depression, but also the importance of therapy. 

“Ginny & Georgia” follows the story of Georgia Miller, a single mother who moves to Wellsbury, Massachusetts after her husband Kenny died. She brings her two children, 15-year-old Ginny and nine-year-old Austin, with her to give them a better life and protect them while her past follows her. The show shifts between Georgia’s perspective and Ginny’s life in high school and her journey through adolescence. 

The writers of “Ginny & Georgia” worked with psychologist Dr. Taji Huang and Mental Health America to show a more accurate portrayal of mental health issues and “the inner lives of high schoolers.” This is a great way to try and portray complex issues more accurately through media and to debunk stereotypes around mental illness. 

The season starts with Ginny at her father, Zion’s, apartment after learning her mother murdered her stepfather. She started experiencing a panic attack and opened up to him about self harming. Zion then encourages Ginny to go to therapy, and viewers follow her experience throughout the season. 

Ginny talks to her therapist about her self harm, racism she is experiencing at school from her teacher, and the complicated relationship she has with Georgia. As Ginny talks about these things, her therapist provides her with tools she can use, such as journaling or hitting an elastic band on her wrist when she feels like harming herself. 

Throughout the season, the viewer sees Ginny using these tools, her progress, and how complicated it can be to get better. While Ginny is struggling with other adversities in addition to self harm, the show had multiple therapy scenes to demonstrate that seeking help for mental health is generally a long-term process. 

These scenes are far from perfect, but Ginny talking with her therapist shows the importance of therapy in a positive light as she doesn’t feel ashamed to express her emotions. When Georgia finds out about Ginny’s self harm she comforts her, helping normalize that it’s okay to get help. 

The show also does a good job at normalizing mental health and being able to laugh at yourself. After Ginny attended therapy for a while and journaling her feelings, she was having dinner with her father and shared, “Dear Diary, today I wanna burn. When, oh when will I ever learn?” She also made a joke with her mother that if she watches “one more rom-com, I will light myself on fire.” These jokes were not an attempt to poke at mental health, but seemed to make it easier for Ginny and showed that she was getting better. 

“Ginny & Georgia” also shows Marcus, Ginny’s partner, struggling with depression after he lost his friend two years ago. Episode eight of Season 2 dives into Marcus’ perspective as he begins to smile and talk less and turns to drugs and alcohol. He also starts laying in bed more, missing school or going to school drunk, and breaks up with Ginny even though he still loves her. 

This episode shows what depression can look like for some people and how it can be a long, fighting battle. It also shows how important it is to have a support system around you and to have patience. 

“Ginny & Georgia” is breaking apart stereotypes about mental health and I’m excited to see more of it.