All sequels are supposed to offer more than their predecessors. That’s why the second season of I Am Georgina, the Netflix reality show that follows Georgina Rodriguez on her adventures around the world, offers more of everything: more money, more drama and more ‘Queridas’ [Dears], as her friends are known. While the first season focused on Rodriguez’s story of pulling herself up by the bootstraps — the girl from Jaca, a small city in Spain, who dreamed of a life of luxury and achieved it through her relationship with the planet’s most famous soccer player — this second installment uses a sitcom format and features Georgina’s group of friends. There are guest star appearances, including Rosalí, but Cristiano Ronaldo, the brightest of them all, is a mere extra this season: the six episodes have more shots of Iberian ham than of CR7.
I Am Georgina’s first season had a lot of viewers but didn’t generate memes, which is part of how Netflix measures a show’s success. On social media, people commented most on Georgina’s nearly pornographic obsession with Spanish ham: nothing seems to excite her or arouse her from her permanent robotic state as much as a good plate of Iberian ham. Of course, she realized that, and in this second season she milks the joke to the point of taking all the fun out of it. “A good Iberian ham gives me joy”; “I couldn’t live without Iberian ham”; “I am coming out as a total addict to Iberian ham,” “The best things about Spain are Rosalía and Iberian ham.” Georgina even eats ham while getting a tattoo in honor of her deceased baby.
Beyond the joke, she is aware that her passion for Iberian products humanizes her. She has turned I Am Georgina into Keeping Up with the Kardashians directed by Bigas Luna, and in it she reconnects with her Aragonese origins. But this season, her humble beginnings are emphasized less than in the previous one, except when Georgina tenderly recalls the Christmases of her childhood (“since we had no money, we went to the quarry to pick chestnuts and moss”) before returning to her present as a millionaire. She explains that each Christmas, she hires a company that rents out the decorations, assembles them in December and takes them down in January. “It’s very comfortable.” Of course it is.
Although I Am Georgina doesn’t delve into them, those contrasts bolster the show: a picture of two little girls next to a tiny tree in a hallway with gotele walls (happiness that money can’t buy) versus a vacation in Lapland (happiness that only money can buy). But all that money cannot buy an aurora borealis display, which doesn’t appear because Mother Nature doesn’t care about Netflix’s stock. A disappointed Georgina proposes a business idea: “They should make a simulacrum of the Northern Lights, like they do with artificial snow.” In casual comments like these, Georgina reveals herself: she doesn’t need to see the Northern Lights; it’s enough for something to resemble them. The content doesn’t matter to her as long as she can buy the container.
“I feel like I’m getting closer to being a model-singer-actress”
One must squint hard to find clues as to what’s going on in Georgina’s head. But there are some hints. For example, her face twists slightly when a salesclerk tells her that she lives in her old building: “The neighbors still talk about you.” When she goes out to Valverde Street, she explains how much she likes Gran Vía, in Madrid, and then exclaims: “Let’s see if I’m going to get robbed!” Georgina worries about that sort of thing every time she looks out into the real world: she can’t enjoy a gondola ride through the canals of Venice because she fears that a tourist will spit on her from a bridge. These are fleeting moments of self-consciousness, like when she is offered a role in a movie and celebrates getting closer to her goal of becoming a model-singer-actress.
“The bidet is a must”
The outbursts of vulgarity in I Am Georgina are as calculated as her fingernails. Georgina dishes them out, as when she insists on the importance of installing a bidet “for the Czech bath” (for those who don’t know, it washes one’s crotch as water makes the “Czech, Czech, Czech” sound), or when she tells her friend Ivan that millionairesses shit too. “A lot,” she adds.
These colloquialisms do not quite work. Georgina enunciates them without breaking character, using the same android diction with which she recites everything else: she opens her eyes wide as if she were very focused (or as if she were reading a teleprompter). With the perfect posture of a girl who attended ballet classes, she doesn’t move a millimeter and intones her words as if she had memorized them.
“Have you talked to the lawyer? The one I have hung up!”
Unlike other reality shows, Georgina is not a salaried employee at the mercy of the production company or Netflix. She is an executive producer of I Am Georgina, so she chooses what airs and how. That explains the constant presence of her group of friends — they call themselves ‘Las Queridas [Dears]’ in honor of their WhatsApp group name — who converse about topics such as the fact that Ivana, the star’s sister, has resumed her studies in Translation and Interpretation. The Queridas adore each other, but when they speak there are long silences that make it seem as if they have just met. They also don’t feel comfortable negotiating between their role in Georgina’s life (they are like family) and their role on the show (constantly talking about Georgina, agreeing with her about everything, watching her try on clothes and open boxes, making jokes while she spends thousands of euros in a store and they don’t). At one point, a friend spreads moisturizer on her legs. In another scene, Georgina asks her friend to wear a pair of boots that are hurting her feet; she gives her friend the shoes for a few days but wants them returned to her later. Georgina delivers these instructions as if her friend worked for her, not as if she were doing her friend a favor.
The many scenes with her friends turn I Am Georgina into a portrait of a culture in which nothingness is everything. It’s as if artificial intelligence created a reality show about a group of people based on Instagram’s most used hashtags: #cool #sufferinghere #wearecrazy. After several minutes of watching them go down water slides, one wonders what the scenes that were left out must be like. The real question about I Am Georgina seems to be how Netflix reacts when the show delivers content that doesn’t contain anything.
“I’m always short on time, I have so many jobs”
This season features a related new addition to the cast: Georgina’s manager, Ramon Jordana. He’s the Dr. Frankenstein of it all; Las Queridas call him Ms. Ramona. Jordana utters a phrase that explodes the term “reality TV”: “I’m going to find you a nanny so you can work more.” That’s a bridge too far for the viewer.
Georgina presents herself as the supermom of a large family like any other (“How do I organize myself to travel with so many children? I have no answer. When I come back I need three days to recover”) and the audience accepts the illusion that Georgina lives alone with her five children, as her Instagram photos and the reality show suggest. That requires suspending disbelief, which the audience has already done automatically. That’s why Ramón ruins the magic of TV when he proposes “hiring a nanny.” It’s one thing for the viewer to choose to believe the image that Georgina has no help at home; the insult to the viewer’s intelligence is something else.
“I have six children”
Motherhood is Georgina’s priority. The scenes with her children are the most natural ones in the reality show; she seems comfortable and has no qualms about personifying all the stereotypes of traditional femininity. For instance, she says she is inspired by Audrey Hepburn because she loves cinema and diamonds. More accurately, she is not so much inspired by the actress as she is by a poster of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Her newborn daughter’s name is Bella Esmeralda, after her two favorite Disney princesses, perhaps a nod to Georgina’s inner child’s dreams. That innocence clashes with the darkness of the season opener. Choosing to devote the show’s first two episodes to Bella’s twin Angel’s death shortly after he was born is a difficult television decision, but one that’s unavoidable on a human level. If the first season proposed a story of overcoming social class, this season presents resignation when confronting trauma: Georgina must learn to live “without a piece of my heart.” Only a month after giving birth, she walked the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival in a gown with 120,000 Swarovski crystals as she tried to ignore sympathetic stares and sorrowful silences. “Whenever I look at Bella I always wonder what Angel would be like,” she confesses. “I have six children. Angel is a son, a nephew, a brother and a cousin.” Few images in Netflix’s entire catalog are as bleak as Georgina’s sister Ivana dealing with the logistics of the unmentionable. She hurries to remove half of all the objects that were in pairs (two teddy bears, two cribs, two bassinets) from the babies’ bedroom and strips the room of every trace of blue before Georgina comes home from the hospital.
“I share the Grammys’ values: solidarity, seeking talent and supporting music”
What I Am Georgina really needs is a court jester, someone to represent the viewer’s voice, to wink at the audience and point out the tensions, paradoxes and absurdity of Georgina Rodríguez’s life. There should be someone to ask questions like what the hell is she doing presenting a Latin Grammy? Or to comment on the fact that when Georgina visits an orphanage and the children give her a plant and a painting with their little handprints on it, it is clear when she says goodbye that she has left them both behind and has no intention of taking them with her. Or to remind us about the environment when she charters a private jet just to take her friend Mamen’s cousin to get a tattoo.
In a metanarrative exercise, the season opens with Georgina and Cristiano in Dubai — a city that is to urbanism what Georgina Rodríguez is to the human species — where they celebrate the first season’s premiere in front of an ad projected on the world’s tallest building. Georgina describes I Am Georgina as “the most important project of my career,” and why not? She is a performer and living her life is her main talent. By the time the viewer wonders whether she is any good at it, it’s four episodes into the show and, well, we’re already here.
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