Georgina Rodríguez: Why fans are obsessed with Cristiano Ronaldo’s partner and her ‘strange and striking’ show
Georgina Rodríguez is a woman to whom a fairy tale has happened. She was 22 years old and working as a salesperson at a Gucci store in Madrid when her life changed. As she was leaving the store at the end of a shift, back in 2016, she noticed “a really handsome guy”. The man, as it turned out, was Cristiano Ronaldo, the world-famous soccer player, then with Real Madrid (now with Manchester United).
Six years later, the pair are still together. They have a four-year-old daughter and are expecting twins. (In 2010, Ronaldo had a son whose biological mother has never been identified. He welcomed twins born in 2017 via surrogate, after he had started dating Rodríguez. She is seen in the series parenting all four children.) Rodríguez no longer works at the Gucci store. Fairy tales tend to stop the moment Prince Charming is secured, but Rodríguez has been living her happily-ever-after publicly – first, in front of her 34 million Instagram followers, and now in I Am Georgina, a six-part reality series released by Netflix on 27 January.
Her castle is the mansion she and Ronaldo shared in Turin when the show was filmed. (They have since moved to Manchester.) Her chariot – well, sometimes it’s the private plane whisking her off to Paris to try on outfits at Jean-Paul Gaultier’s atelier. Sometimes, it’s Ronaldo’s yacht in Monaco. And sometimes, it’s the array of luxury cars in his private garage – Bugatti, Mercedes, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, McLaren all feature. Her ball gowns live in a walk-in closet lined with candy-colored couture handbags. (Prada, Chanel, and Dior are all showcased, as is Hermès. Ronaldo gifted Rodríguez her first purse from the French design house for Christmas one year. She was “blown away” – not just because it was an Hermès bag, but because she knew how hard it is to purchase certain models in short supply.)
The story of how this all began is recounted in detail by the protagonists themselves early in the show’s first episode. After their first encounter, Ronaldo saw Rodríguez again as a customer at Gucci. One day, they realized they had both been invited to the same event, and they connected there. Their courtship took place little by little, over time. There was another event, during which Ronaldo asked Rodríguez out to dinner. On the way to the restaurant, their hands brushed against each other. It was a special moment, Ronaldo says in the series. His hands, Rodríguez says, felt familiar. They fit hers “perfectly”. By the time he dropped her off at her home, she could feel her heart beating.
The next day, he texted her first. He offered to have dinner again. Rodríguez had already eaten, but she didn’t tell him that. She accepted the invitation. He picked her up. They went to his house. “I had dinner again, like a lady,” Rodríguez says. She became his girlfriend. She kept working at the Gucci store, where she occasionally arrived by bus and left in his Bugatti.
“I never imagined I would fall so heavily in love with her,” Ronaldo says in his recollection. “But after a while, I felt that she was the one for me.”
Born in 1994 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Rodríguez grew up in the city of Jaca in northeastern Spain. She studied ballet as a child and grew close to her sister Ivana Rodríguez, a participant in the reality series. At the age of 18, she recounts in the show’s fifth episode, she wanted to move to Madrid but lacked the funds to do so, so she took a job at a hotel in Graus, a village located a two-hour drive from Jaca. It was there that a customer, who was skiing with her husband in the region, urged her to move to Madrid for a different job. She worked retail at Massimo Dutti, a brand of the Inditex group (which also owns Zara) and tended bar on some Fridays and Saturdays. Her career in retail led to the Gucci job, which in turn led to her meeting with Ronaldo.
In November 2019, Ronaldo and Rodríguez denied rumors they had got married in a secret ceremony in Morocco. When allegations of rape surfaced in 2018 against Ronaldo, Rodríguez appeared to react to the claims in an Instagram post in which she told her partner: “You always transform the obstacles that stand in your way into momentum and strength to grow and show how great you are.” (Ronaldo has “firmly denied” the allegations and said in a statement: “Rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in.”)
I Am Georgina, billed by Netflix as an in-depth portrait of Rodríguez and her daily life, shows her handling their children’s upbringing and education, managing the decor inside their home, preparing for and attending events, and making content for her Instagram account. She’s also seen visiting Nuevo Futuro, a nonprofit organization for vulnerable children, and receiving an award at the 2021 Starlite Gala in Marbella, Spain, in recognition of her charity work.
“I don’t think I’m extraordinary, but I do think I’m a lucky woman,” she says in the show’s opening. “I know what it’s like to have nothing, and I know what it’s like to have everything.”
Throughout the documentary, Rodríguez appears perfectly content to let her life mold itself around Ronaldo’s. It’s a role she has stepped into fully, seemingly without reserve. A six-minute sequence is devoted to the redecorating of Ronaldo’s house in Madrid; the selection of fabric samples is a task that warrants two different filming locations.
I Am Georgina is at odds with the reality genre in that regard. It’s shockingly tame, in a way that feels both heavily manufactured but not scripted on a molecular level. It’s miles away from the mercurial Real Housewives franchise. Its frivolity borrows from the Kardashian-verse, but I Am Georgina refuses to venture into the high-stakes material that has given that reality behemoth some of its best moments.
Among the rare annoyances acknowledged by Rodríguez are the pressures of fame (she used to get frustrated whenever rumors circulated about her, but she has since let go) and the bad WiFi in their vast Turin house (four routers, and still it cuts out during a video call from her closet, while she was trying to enlist a friend’s help in selecting outfits for an upcoming trip). Ronaldo himself doesn’t feature quite as prominently as one might expect; outside of excerpts from his sit-down interview, scattered across the series, he mainly appears by way of phone and video calls.
Every reality show has to be at least open to the possibility that its protagonists will be disliked. I Am Georgina is determined to paint Ronaldo and Rodríguez in the most flattering light, skirting any material they could deem truly uncomfortable. For six episodes, it stays on message: the show is here to tell a fairy tale, love story, a rags-to-riches story, and it won’t deviate from it. Not in the name of depth, not even in the name of on-screen tension. Not for anything. Rodríguez seems torn between her desire not to apologize for her wealth and her desire not to be disliked for her good fortune.
Stick around for the end credits – which Netflix automatically cuts short in favor of launching the next episode, unless explicitly told not to – and you’ll see Rodríguez credited as the programme’s director of content. That fact isn’t advertised or actively incorporated in the series. Its aesthetic is that of any reality show in which a participant supposedly goes about their normal life while cameras happen to follow them.
This tells us who I Am Georgina is for: her fans, millions of whom follow her on Instagram, suggesting the promise of a built-in audience for the show. They have been predictably pleased, calling themselves “obsessed” and congratulating her by way of Instagram comments. For the digital newspaper El Confidencial, Rodríguez’s editorial control makes the end result “quite limited”, as “we cannot see the normal and ordinary person she assures us she is”. For the free newspaper 20 minutos, the series is “strange and striking”, giving us access to a world out of reach from most people. And for the daily El País, this is a show “designed for the modest influencers” who “dream of crying in a video while saying: ‘Instagram is not as beautiful as it seems.’”
But I Am Georgina stays somewhat stuck in its insistence that it is, in fact, as beautiful as it seems. That fairy tales really do come true, that one person really can get so absurdly lucky and walk off into the sunset. Fans who already know and love its protagonists will find the show custom-made to their needs. But to those who were hoping to get to know them a bit more as people (flawed, messy, complicated), it will ring hollow.