Peacock’s Girls5eva is the spirit of 30 Rock dressed up in sequins and space buns. The series by Meredith Scardino has the same whip-smart commentary on fame and womanhood as the aughts sitcom classic, and the same whiplash-inducing high-speed humor, too. Importantly, despite being the cult favorite’s heir apparent (the team behind 30 Rock executive produces), it doesn’t fall into moments of poor taste like its predecessor. The show’s new second season is a shade less hysterical than its first, but that still means it’s one of the funniest sitcoms on television.
The first season of Girls5eva ended with the former members of the titular girl band back together again (for the second time), performing their song “Four Stars” to an enthusiastic crowd before being booted from the venue. As season two begins, the foursome is still riding that high with a comeback album deal. Of course, the album is for a record label owned by the Property Brother and it requires an impossibly fast turnaround time, but you can’t make a diamond without some pressure, right?
Songwriter and mom Dawn (Sara Bareilles), lesbian dentist Gloria (Paula Pell), Christian influencer Summer (Busy Philipps), and desperate diva Wickie (Renée Elise Goldsberry) certainly feel the pressure to succeed. While the show’s first season had a clear through-line that saw the women re-enter the zeitgeist and begin to understand the exploitation they faced during their ‘90s pop near-stardom, the sophomore season sees the band mostly out of the spotlight. Instead, the group works on their album and their personal lives in tandem, with very funny results.
Girls5eva season two is fairly episodic, but its low-key structure offers the chance for some extremely fun detours. In one of the funniest episodes, the group gets the chance to guest as extras in a music video, and during a spare moment, they shoot the next year’s worth of social media posts with the glitzy outfits they’ve been loaned. Wickie directs with a smartphone as Summer congratulates several competing sports teams on theoretical victories, Dawn announces she’s finally caught up on Mr. Robot, and Gloria celebrates National Sibling Day by getting estranged from her brother. It’s exactly the kind of exuberant, ridiculous, joke-packed comedy the show excels at.
Sometimes, the jokes in Girls5eva soar by fast enough to require a rewatch. The core cast deftly delivers a wide range of bits with topics ranging from caffeinated tampons to an off-brand Mickey Mouse Club to the jackets from The Undone. The entire cast nails nearly every line, but Bareilles and Goldsberry, neither of whom are best-known for on-screen acting, continue to be surprising and uproarious standouts.
Girls5eva is never afraid to aim its comedic darts right at real-life targets, and the new season name drops everyone from J.K. Rowling to Robin Thicke, all while also broadly lampooning the entire music industry. The show’s humor also feels impressively timely in a way that many other shows in the streaming era just don’t. Jokes about Being The Ricardos and the Beatles documentary Get Back had me checking my calendar to figure out how writers incorporated them. In its first season, Girls5eva shared some of the same sharp satirical spirit as The Other Two. Now, it’s wackier and looser, throwing together absurd, multi-part jokes that are designed to catch viewers in a surprised laugh first and make a statement about the state of the industry second.
If Girls5eva season two is less perfect than the show’s first outing, it’s because taking the band away from the stage has a bit of a dulling effect on its genuinely great original music. There’s no major crescendo for the season, no big show to look forward to across the eight episodes. The women sing mostly in the recording studio, although some of the best songs still appear in hilariously period-specific cutaway flashbacks to their early days. One of their tracks, which is triumphantly performed more than once, is the type of energetic anthem that could be a real-life radio hit. Plenty of others are catchy and funny, while one or two smaller numbers fall flat. Still, as with all the season’s other elements, the show only has itself to live up to. It’s demonstrably more clever than nearly any other sitcom out there, even if the occasional tune does drag.
For the most part, Girls5eva season two is an embarrassment of riches. It continues to employ wide-ranging guest stars to tremendous effect and has the very impressive distinction of being one of Amy Sedaris’ funniest guest appearances. Along with its industry-specific ribbing, it also has plenty to say about aging, parenting, and adult relationships. Plus, the show is just a good time in a TV landscape full of feel-bad viewing options. Endlessly inventive and perpetually enjoyable, Girls5eva is the comedy oasis the world needs right now.
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