In Peacock’s relatively short time span as a streamer, it has quickly become a destination for reliably great comedy series. Shows like Saved by the Bell, Rutherford Falls, A.P. Bio, and Bust Down have the feel of previous underrated and offbeat NBC comedy series which ended their runs much earlier than they should have. Girls5eva easily fits into this group of hilarious series, and is one of the best reasons to stream on Peacock.
The series has a similar style of humor with surreal and zany comedies like 30 Rock, Great News, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, likely because they all share some behind the scenes DNA with the other series. The creative talent at the top has found a formula that provides reliable laughs, and applying this humor to a series like this, with on screen talent down for anything, is just genius.
Girls5eva is packed full of pop culture references and jokes at every turn, coming at you fast. It often feels tailor made for a Millennial audience with its heavy references and throwbacks to the time of MTV and TRL, boy bands and girl groups. It’s a series that feels completely relevant to today with the recent surge in revisiting those times of art and style. The landscape of music, celebrity and pop culture has grown so much since then, yet feels as a natural successor of it.
The four remaining members of Girls5eva, Dawn (Sara Bareilles), Summer (Busy Philipps), Gloria (Paula Pell) and Wickie (Renée Elise Goldsberry), all with their own unique personalities, come together as a group in perfect harmony. Yes they can be dysfunctional, but they always find a way to make it work in the end. The characters bounce off each other so naturally as if Bareilles, Philipps, Pell and Goldsberry have been lifelong friends. It was truly surprising when none of them received Emmy nominations last year for their roles in the first season.
The eight episode second season feels like a natural extension of the first season, especially as there are tons of callback jokes to the first season. This time around, the world which they reside in feels bigger and fuller as the girls branch out into getting their names out there again. The season may be about recording the girls first album since reuniting, but it’s really all about growth. Like Wickie sings in the song “Four Stars”, the girls are a work in progress and they’re not finished yet. Each character goes through moments which test their resolve and their outlooks on life, finding ways through the album process to become even stronger and more confident. The girls are each still coming to terms with their past and their present as they now collide in this new attempt at success.
The songs in season two are all earworms. The best part of the songs is that they are catchy as hell and full of hilarious lines. Each one has their own memorable ties into each of their stories, and show how far they have all come since their original days as a group. There are heartfelt moments which quickly creep up and the payoff is always worth the wait. There may not be a pinnacle “Four Stars” song moment where it encapsulates the entire season in one song, but the collection of songs for the album do the job, plus the single they choose comes close. “At the Beep” and “Bend Not Break” are easy standouts. I would list some other energetic highlights, but it’s worth it to see and hear them for the first time as you watch. Even some of the titles give away too much! These songs will certainly end up on my playlist once they get released.
Getting to watch Dawn come up with songs and lyrics during recording sessions feels like a peek into Sara Bareilles brain. It just comes so naturally, and her voice is easily recognizable from her albums and Broadway appearances. It’s sometimes easy to forget Dawn isn’t just a fictionalized version of Bareilles, especially in the way she plays the most down to earth and “normal” character of the group.
Renée Elise Goldsberry’s Wickie remains iconic. There really is no better word. Her natural talent shines in her commitment to Wickie and the live vocals that she belts are a showstopper. The series could easily become The Wickie Show, giving her some of the funniest lines and even when the focus isn’t on her, you want more. They manage to carefully walk the line, giving each character killer one liners and deep cutting jokes that hilariously land each time.
Busy Philipps and Paula Pell provide for reliable laughs any time the camera is on them. I love the relationship between Summer and Gloria, as they often turn to each other for advice and comfort. They know what to say, and not to say, in the moment. Advice they often give each other is again instilled on the other at a later point. The physical comedy that comes from Gloria is always a hoot and you know you’re in for a hilarious scene whenever Summer and Kev (Andrew Rannells) are together.
The new season features many returning guest stars along with some great new additions. Each brings something slightly weird and funny to the show, never feeling too over the top or cartoonish. I wish there could be more scenes featuring some of them. Never did I think the unexpected utterance of the words “Kill him. Do it. Please.” from a guest star in a finale scene could leave me completely in stitches. Also as someone who grew up with NBC 4 NY, seeing Pat Battle show up was perfect, especially since she also had a guest spot on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Just perfect.
The process of recording the album requires Dawn, Summer, Gloria and Wickie to put their blood, sweat and knees into it, and you can truly feel it in every high and low they go through throughout the entire season. If you enjoyed the first season, you will without a doubt love with the new season. It is reliably funny, heartwarming and will leave you craving more. The show should be a pop culture phenomenon, and hopefully this new season can help launch it into that level. It is a well crafted story, and it still feels like we’re just getting started with these characters on their journey. I eagerly await Peacock’s season three renewal announcement. Please! Don’t make me get my scented hammer!
Girls5eva premieres on Peacock May 5 with the first three episodes. One episode will be released weekly following the premiere.