The pressure has been mounting on us to write about the hot Netflix show Ginny & Georgia, which takes place in the fictional New England community of Wellsbury. We seem to get a new email every day about it, chatter has swirled on social media, and I was even interviewed by a local college student writing an article for the Boston Globe about the show’s local flavor.
The big question seems to be: Is Wellsbury a thinly veiled reference to Wellesley? Or maybe a mash-up of Wellesley and Sudbury, or West Newbury? An important and insightful Marie Claire article asks: “Is Wellsbury from Ginny & Georgia a Real Place?”
With my TV focus revolving around sports and movies, I’m not the target audience for this show. Netflix’s description of what had been its #1 show, since bumped to #2, is “Free-spirited Georgia and her two kids, Ginny and Austin, move north in search of a fresh start but find that the road to new beginnings can be bumpy.”
I’d heard enough about the drama-comedy-romance to know it’s seen by many as a newfangled Gilmore Girls, the popular 2000-2007 show about a mom and her precocious teen-age daughter. I never did get around to watching that one. So I’m pretty much unqualified to review Ginny & Georgia, and won’t attempt to do so. I know plenty of people, including locals, are enjoying it and could do a better job as critic.
But I’ve taken a peek at the show in the spirit of half-assed research and keeping up on all things Swellesley. I watched the first 20 or so minutes of episode one, and a couple of weeks later skipped through most of episode four to watch a scene about a school auction that I heard smacked of Wellesley.
My first impression, watching the mom and her two kids driving down a thoroughfare sandwiched between fancy and uniformly designed shops was that they were in the South, or maybe Cape Cod. Wellesley Square’s largely hodgepodge shopping district architecture looks nothing like that to me. The houses didn’t scream Wellesley to me either.
I will say the hyper-organized school parents rang familiar, and the auction scene, during which two mothers bid thousands of dollars to have their kids become Principal for a Day, gave me flashbacks to my first Hunnewell auction and its opening bids in the hundreds for a collage made by elementary school kids.
One Swellesley reader, a former Wellesley resident who reached out to make sure we knew about Wellsbury, said “I could only make it through 45 minutes, but I agree on the school moms.”
Given that the show’s creator Sarah Lampert went to school in Newton, it’s not farfetched to think she borrowed from Wellesley, though one local blogger says the scene is obviously based on Newton itself. The show was largely filmed in Canada, and references to Newton and Brookline are made during the shows.
One Swellesley reader, a mom of three young children, wrote to us: “My husband and I have enjoyed watching it so far and can’t help but notice the similarities to our town.”
I pressed the resident, who asked not to be identified, on what makes the show feel like it’s situated here.
“Besides its name, Wellsbury’s similarities to Wellesley don’t stem from the filming location as it clearly wasn’t filmed in our town. However, the show captures the essence of Wellesley—quaint, pristine, and uppity. Although there is a coffee shop that is prominent throughout the show that seems visually reminiscent of Altra Strada. The coffee shop has brick walls and it’s a popular meeting place for the Wellsbury residents.”
She also cited Wellsbury’s annual festival (similar to Wellesley’s Wonderful Weekend?), a popular country club, and residents who compete to decorate their houses for Halloween. And about that auction scene:
“You’ll have to watch the episode, but found it to be hysterical and so on point. They end up allowing both moms to win, much to the chagrin of the mom who originally outbid the other thinking she was the winner. I can’t tell you how many local fundraisers I’ve been to where this has happened.”
The show has been a fun distraction for the woman and her husband during the pandemic.
“I’m looking forward to watching what happens,” she says. “So far, I’ve enjoyed noticing the similarities of Wellsbury to Wellesley and laughing about them and us!”
As for me and TV, on to March Madness college basketball games.