Let me just preface this post with the disclaimer that I suck at writing reviews. I never know how to start them or how to write them in my own voice. So instead, consider what I am about to write to be an enthusiastic recommendation.
I did not like Girls5Eva, a Peacock original show, at first. Shandy had watched it on Matt’s recommendation and really enjoyed it. I knew the basic premise and that Tina Fey was involved, so I figured it was right up my alley. I took an extended break in between episodes 3 and 4 because I just wasn’t that into it. My (silly) hot take was that it was one of those female-heavy shows touted as “feminist” but with super-flawed female characters who ended up being the butt of their own jokes rather than being portrayed as strong, intelligent women.
I was so wrong!
I begrudgingly resumed watching the remaining episodes early last week and by episode 5, I was all in. After the season finale, I immediately went to iTunes and started listening to the soundtrack (which I cannot stop listening to/singing, a week later). Earlier this week, I convinced Jay to start watching it, and honestly, I appreciated, liked, and laughed at the first two episodes so much more than I did the first time. I also noticed some joke set-ups that pay off in later episodes, including one from the finale that I didn’t get the first time I watched it.
Without being too spoilery, the basic plot for Girls5Eva is this: Members of a now-defunct early-2000s girl group are 40-ish and doing their own thing when a popular rapper decides to sample one of their songs in his new song. He appears on Jimmy Fallon and the women are asked to reunite to sing their hook live. It goes well and they decide to reunite. Hijinks, Tina Fey as Dolly Parton, and Vanessa Williams ensue.
I can’t say enough about the cast. They all look like they are having a blast with their roles. Renée Elise Goldsberry’s character, Wickie, is a treasure trove of ridiculous one-liners and catchphrases (“Cease and desist, bitch!”), and you can see the joy in Busy Phillip’s face every time Summer’s on screen. Each Girls5Eva member goes through their own little personal growth arc throughout the season and each one just works with the absurdity of its character. I think my favorite episode of Season 1 centers around Wickie and Gloria. Played by the marvelous Paula Pell, Gloria was awkwardly closeted while they were famous and is now a “flapjack gay diva” that power walks to WAP. In this particular episode, G5E are supposed to perform at a Pride event and I’ll just leave it at that.
The music is campy, trashy, and wonderful. There’s a particular piano ballad called “I’m Afraid” from Sara Bareilles’ character Dawn that comes mid-season, and it may be my new anthem. And the song they sing to close out the season is my jam. It’s so catchy! There’s also a bunch of hilariously bad songs from their heydey like “Space Boys” or a song about tiny pancake-asses in jeans. We hear snippets of these songs throughout an episode and then the full song over the end credits. Tina Fey’s husband, music director Jeff Richmond, and creator/showrunner Meredith Scardino composed most of the songs.
Girls5Eva has the same feel as 30 Rock or Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, so if that type of humor isn’t your thing, then this show may not be for you. I’m glad I pushed through, though, because I cannot wait to keep rewatching with Jay and am excited for season 2!