Nearly a month after its sophomore season release, Netflix’s Ginny & Georgia continues to dominate the Top 10 charts. The comedy-drama series revolves around the eccentric Georgia (Brianne Howey) and her teenage daughter, Ginny (Antonia Gentry), as they aim to start a new life in the idyllic small town of Wellsbury, Massachusetts. However, Georgia’s got more than a few skeletons in her closet. Like a cross between Gilmore Girls, Big Little Lies, and something else entirely, the series packs in romance, teen angst, family drama, and murder.
At the beginning of Season 2, Ginny has fallen out with her friend group. Her neighbor and former best friend, Maxine “Max” Baker (Sara Waisglass), has been icing her out ever since it came to light that Ginny has been secretly romantically involved with Max’s twin brother, Marcus (Felix Mallard). The drama is amped up, to say the least. Waisglass delivers an explosive performance this season as the popular, dramatic, and openly lesbian Max, who’s reeling from her first breakup and lashing out big time.
In an interview with The Nerds of Color, Sara Waisglass and Ginny & Georgia creator Sarah Lampert break down the evolution of Max’s character and dissect her Season 2 arc. They also discuss Waisglass’ audition and improvisation skills, the importance of mental health representation, Max’s love interests, and Wellington. Here’s what they had to say.
Warning: Season 2 spoilers ahead!
THE NERDS OF COLOR: First, let’s talk auditions. Sarah, what was your initial reaction to seeing Sara’s audition for Max?
LAMPERT: I was in bed and got this email from Jason Knight, our casting director in Canada. It’s that huge, massive monologue that [Max] gives in the pilot where she’s like, “Oh, you’re from Texas, how exotic!,” and then goes on. And like, if these actresses all learned this, I’m gonna sit and watch every single audition from start to finish, because what a brutal thing to make them do. So I’m watching all of them, and I’ve heard these lines a million times. Sara was far down the list [of auditions] — she was, I wanna say like, number 12 or 14. I’m in bed snuggled up, and it gets to her. I sit straight up in bed. And I’m like, “That’s it! It’s her!”
Sara, you’ve said you still had to audition several times. Was it that same monologue?
WAISGLASS: The first few rounds it was the cafeteria scene where Max is like, “Oh my god, was he on a motorcycle? I know so many people have died on motorcycles.” I also had to do the scene with Marcus where he puts me to bed drunk. I think I also did the scene where MANG is coming down the hallway. I did that one, and the one where we’re all watching porn that we did as a chemistry read together. I didn’t screen test with Felix or Toni, though.
Seriously, is it hard to keep up with how fast Max talks?
WAISGLASS: I think when I get nervous, I speak fast. So everyone thinks that I’m talking fast, but I think I’m talking regularly. But it’s just because I’m nervous. I have to always….before I do an interview or meet new people, I’m like, make sure you calm down. Because otherwise I will motormouth my way through anything.
I think that’s a huge part of Max’s charm, though!
WAISGLASS: I also think it’s a nice homage to Lorelai from Gilmore Girls.
One of the most interesting things about Ginny & Georgia is every character seems to have complicated shades of gray. It’s really good at making us sympathize with characters we thought we hated and also be frustrated with characters we love. How did you craft Max’s storyline this season, Sarah?
LAMPERT: I think in order to talk about this season, we kind of have to talk about Season 1. I’m really interested in breaking tropes. I wanted Max to be that popular girl at school, and then kind of invert what we think that is. So, she’s super warm and friendly. She immediately wants to befriend Ginny and she introduces her to all of her friends. She’s also out and proud. It’s not a storyline — her coming out — it’s just a part of who she is. And she’s very comfortable in who she is. She’s comfortable taking up space, but in a way that’s very generous, in a way that also gives space to others. She’s always pumping up her friends and trying to create harmony in her friend group. If Abby’s off doing something she shouldn’t, then Max is like, “Nope, we’re mad at her. No, no, no!” Max is always kind of a champion of what is right.
So in Season 2, I really wanted to explore the darker sides of her character. What do you do when you take this character, whose main trait is loyalty, and hurt her? Really hurt that character, make her feel really betrayed, make her feel heartbroken from her first heartbreak, make her feel disposable, make her feel like she’s too much for people. And make all of these loyal friendships she has, you know, in her mind, turn on her or let her down or betray her. How does she react to that?
Of all the characters, Max is the one that I put the most of my personality traits into. In Season 2, I really wanted to explore what I knew were more of my weaknesses. And Sara got the brunt of that [laughs]. In the beginning half of the season, Max is really lashing out and hurting others and being dramatic. But I think all of that energy is coming from a really pure place of not understanding how someone could do some of the things that these other characters have done. Because Max is the friend who would show up to jail and bail you right out — she’s a true ride or die. And I think that’s why she reacts so strongly. She has such deep feelings. One of my favorite lines in the season is when she says to her dad, “I feel like I’m too much for everyone.” In Episode 7, she says to Silver, “Marcus once said that I don’t think about other people and that I only think about myself. I don’t see what’s going on with others.” He said that once in the middle of a fight at the end of Episode 10. And for that to stick with Max all that time…that was haunting her. This is not a character who takes anything lightly.
So Sara, tell me about your experience filming Season 2.
WAISGLASS: It was very different. Because yeah, I think my favorite thing about Max was that she wasn’t a trope. I loved that she was popular, but so friendly and open and happy. And so to see that flip entirely, it was like the biggest challenge ever. And it was very hard, because I’m so attached to Max. I wanted to fight with her, but I also needed to be on her side, because that’s my job. Interestingly enough, as the season went on, I understood way more. It does make total sense that someone who loves that deeply can also hurt that deeply. And it’s no secret that she’s a dramatic girl, so her pain would obviously be dramatic as well. I also think, you know, people forget that she’s 15. To this day, I have people yelling at me for not liking their Instagram pictures — so when people think that Max is overreacting…I don’t know, maybe we need to check ourselves [laughs].
Also, a bunch of people are saying, “Does Max want to sleep with her brother? Why is she so upset?” And guys, no — she’s upset that Ginny didn’t tell her! She’s fine with them dating. She really is. When she’s like, “Oh, I didn’t know you loved him”…that’s when it switches. And she’s like, “I just wish she would have told me.” And when they’re having that huge fight in the hallway, and Ginny’s like, “Well, I don’t need to tell you everything.” I think that hurts [Max] so much. Because Max is like, “I would tell you everything. Because you’re my best friend. All of you guys are my best friends.” Like Sarah said, Max would go to the ends of the earth for her friends. So, for them to just so easily keep something so huge from her … it just feels like the end of the world for her.
It was very fun learning this side of Max. I’ve been told in the past that I can’t be unlikable, and I’ve lost some roles because of that. So it was also a great opportunity for me to see if I could grow through that and actually be unlikable. And I’ll tell you, my Twitter comments show me that I can!
Yeah, I was going to ask — was the reaction to Max this season hard to deal with?
WAISGLASS: I’d say 90% of the [comments] are just talking about Max and not talking about me as a person, which is super. And I think that it’s amazing proof that what the writers did worked. They needed to take Max to a different place and they needed to sell her being unlikable. I love that people had that visceral response, because it means that we’re doing something right. It means that we are getting people so attached to a character that they get upset and that their stomachs hurt when she’s being awful. I love that she can connect with that many people, and that she can drive people nuts just as much as she makes them laugh.
LAMPERT: By the end of the season, Max has had so much growth, and she’s done some self-reflection. And she really ends the season trying to help others piece themselves together. Whenever I want to add energy to a scene or need to switch up the tone, I just write, “Max enters.” Sara comes with this huge energy and completely takes the reins of the tone of the scene. I think that the growth of Max and the different waves that she surfed this season are really a testament to Sara’s range. She has the ability to hit that bright comedy and be fun, but then to also be convincing when Max is hurt and lashing out.
Sara, what was your favorite Max scene this season?
WAISGLASS: My favorite scene that we shot was the scene with my dad. I just think it was so vulnerable. I’ve obviously been told I’m too much for people, so that was very personal. I saw a quote the other day that I’m kind of infusing into my life: “If you’re too much for someone, they are more than welcome to go find less.”
You’ve said you improvised some of your scenes. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
WAISGLASS: The scene that stands out the most to me is when Max is at Blue Farm with Sophie. Rose [Troche, director] scared the shit out of me — she was like, “I think you guys should improv this whole scene!” It was so beautiful and raw, because I love Humberly (González, who plays Sophie) so much. When I was cast, I was literally terrified of improv. My mom begged me to go to improv courses. And I was like, “No, that sounds like my hell! I can’t do it!” And then because of the show, and because of how comfortable they made me feel, how much they believed in me, and how safe the environment was, they just encouraged it. And now I’m not scared of it anymore. Conquering fear is a big thing for me, so I’m so grateful for that.
There was another [improvised scene] that I do remember very strongly, because something really magical happened. I’ve been acting for 17 years, and it’s only happened twice for me — when you’re so into a scene that literally everything else disappears…you can’t see the camera anymore, and you don’t even remember that you’re performing. It was at the end of that scene where Sophie leaves [the Halloween party] and I’m devastated. Initially in the script, I was supposed to just leave right after, but the director was like, “That’s not going to work, because then you’re just following Sophie right out. You need to do something for a minute.” So, Toni and I sat on the floor. I was crying, and she was like, “What do you want to do? You want to leave?” And I was like, “I really fucked up.” That was all improv, and it was terrifying.
LAMPERT: I think the beauty of Sara’s improv is that, in almost every scene, there’s a line or a turn of phrase or something she puts her own spin on. I think a lot of it happens when you’re in scenes with Felix, too — I see a lot of improv banter between the two of you.
Sara, you and Felix seem to have such natural chemistry. Did that come right away?
WAISGLASS: Yeah! We immediately just adopted a very silly, like, bullying relationship. It’s lovely. I’m always the most comfortable in scenes with him, because I think he brings out interesting things in my character, and I bring out really interesting things in his. And so it’s really fun to play with that. I remember being in my final audition and someone told me, “We just cast the guy playing your brother.” And then they showed me a picture of Felix, and I was like, “Okay, this works in my favor. We have the same lips and the same eyes. Hopefully this all works out!” And it did, and I’m so glad.
LAMPERT: Can we talk about Wellington? I can’t let this go by without talking about Sara’s performance.
Absolutely. Tell me about it!
LAMPERT: It was just so fun to create a fictional character for Sara’s Max to play. What the musicals do for me is they blow the lid off. Like, we can have this character have a lot of fun. And Tameka [Griffiths, who plays Bracia] was amazing, the two of them together. One of my favorite things that we did in Season 2 was Wellington.
WAISGLASS: The production value of Wellington on its own was like, “Whoa!” The singing lessons, the dialect coaching, the choreography. Being able to work with Tameka more was cool. We had so much fun. It was the best.
Max is kind of in a bit of a love triangle with Sophie and Silver now. Do you have a favorite pairing?
WAISGLASS: I think all of Max’s relationships bring out something different in her. I think first loves are super powerful, and for Max, it’ll take a really long time to heal from that. Silver is great because she’s caring and just accepts Max exactly as she is. And I think that’s very sweet. So, I love all these pairings. I don’t think any of them are toxic. Max is always obsessing about someone, and I would really like to see her give that love to herself instead of trying to become different people to suit Sophie or to suit Silver. But again, all of these relationships and connections she has, I think, are really beautiful and really lucky.
I also have to ask both of you, because it’s such a popular pairing with fans — what do you think about the idea of Abby and Max together?
LAMPERT: I think that they have a very deep love for one another. They’re very, very close friends. And I think that people will just have to tune in and watch to see where we develop the characters. But ultimately, I think that their love is really based on the fact that they’ve been there for each other for so long and they’ve known each other for so long. You can tell that they’re old friends. Like, they have all these weird inside jokes that the audience doesn’t ever get to see the inception of, and it just speaks to the history that these characters have. I understand why the fans see it and want it.
WAISGLASS: I don’t think I could have said it better. I also think Katie [Douglas, who plays Abby] is such a fun energy. She was the first person cast, right?
LAMPERT: Katie was the very first person cast. Abby is based on my friend, Abby, so I knew what to look for. Katie auditioned for Max. And when I saw that energy, I was like, “Oh, she kind of scares me, and I don’t feel like I’m cool enough. Abby!”
WAISGLASS: Getting to play with that is so much fun. Scenes with [Katie] always come to life. I love how passionate everyone is about AbbyMax. I love every scene. I love seeing our height difference and, like, everything is just so cute. Again, yeah, everybody has to watch!
Let’s talk about that TikTok you and Chelsea [Clarke, who plays Nora] did in Episode 1 this season. Was the dance something you guys just had to learn for the scene?
WAISGLASS: Yeah, our choreographer — the same girl who choreographed Wellington and Sing Sing, came in and taught us a TikTok dance. Sarah and Deb (showrunner) learned it too.
And your own TikTok account has obviously totally blown up, Sara. I was watching one the other day of you and Colton [Gobbo, who plays Jordan] doing a dance.
LAMPERT: I think the reason why Sara’s TikTok is so phenomenal is the same reason her improv is so phenomenal. Any time that her energy is put out to the world, it’s a good thing.
WAISGLASS: Can I have this recording for, like, personal reasons? [Laughs]
LAMPERT: I think Sara just has such a light and an energy, and a desire to connect with others, and a very real authenticity to her. It’s impossible to not see that in the characters she plays and then also in, like, her fun TikToks.
I think that’s absolutely true. And I think something people appreciate about you on social media is that you’re also really honest about stuff like mental health and anxiety. I feel like that comes out a little bit in Max’s character, too — she’s being dramatic, but she’s also clearly struggling and not okay.
WAISGLASS: That was a conversation that Sarah and I had very recently. We spoke about, you know, what Max’s mannerisms mean, and what they’re covering. Sarah, do you want to touch on that? Because I don’t want to say anything if I’m not allowed.
LAMPERT: Without getting too in depth, because I don’t want to explore too much where the story might go. But what I said to Sara…you know, I struggle with depression. And that’s why I related so much to Marcus’ story this season. But I don’t act like Marcus. I act like Max. I think it’s really important to show the representation of struggling with a lot of different faces on it. Sara and I both agree that her character definitely has ADD. I have ADD, and when I’m writing dialogue for Max is when I feel the most open ended. It requires the least amount of thought for me to write her dialogue, and it rarely gets edited. It’s just kind of…it’s very free flowing.
I think that it’s really important to show that everyone is struggling. You know, literally everyone is fighting a battle that you can’t see. Everyone is grappling with hard emotions, whether they put a happy face on it and want to connect, or they are unable to be with others in a room and need to isolate themselves.
With the show, we take mental health really seriously. Because we know that our audience is mainly younger, we want to show these stories in a way that is authentic and truthful, but also ultimately ends in a hopeful place where characters are gentle with one another. We work really closely with Mental Health America — they watch every cut and read every script. We also have a licensed psychiatrist who we consult with for every character. So we’re not loose with this at all, it’s very thought out. It’s really taken seriously in the writers’ room. We spend a lot of time talking about the mental health of each character, what that means for them, and how it’s going to affect their character arcs and their connections with each other.
Absolutely, and I think that definitely shows this season. Both of you, if you could pitch any storyline for Max, what would it be?
WAISGLASS: I think with what Abby is going through, I’d really like to see Max be there for her. I think if she had any idea what Abby was going through, she would drop literally everything in her life, probably even Marcus, and she would go to Abby’s side and be there for her. Because I think when it comes to real stuff like that, as you see with Marcus, there are no bounds to Max’s love. And I just think she literally can’t see what Abby’s going through. I would love to see that in Season 3 if we get one.
LAMPERT: Something that I love about both Baker twins is that they both feel their best when they’re there for others. That’s their strongest quality and they share that. So I would love to see examples of Max really being called upon to defend the people she loves.
Finally, I have to ask — which Baker twin is older?
LAMPERT: That was in the dialogue at one point, but then I pulled it, so I have no idea.
WAISGLASS: I feel like Max is older. And if Marcus is older, well, I feel like Max makes up for it with her energy, like, “You’re underdeveloped, because I had longer in the womb!”
LAMPERT: I have two younger brothers, so I may just naturally [gravitate] towards writing Max as older. So, let’s go with Max being older!
Seasons 1 and 2 of Ginny & Georgia are streaming now on Netflix.
Note: This interview has been condensed for length and clarity.