The best show you're not watching is back on Netflix

The cast of Girls5eva
(Image credit: Netflix)

What if I told you that Netflix is premiering three full seasons of a comedy series produced by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock that offers the perfect companion to their work on “30 Rock” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”? You might wonder how such a show could amass that many seasons without reaching much of an audience, and the answer is: Peacock. That was the streaming home for the first two seasons of the excellent comedy “Girls5eva,” produced by Fey and Carlock and created by former “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” writer and producer Meredith Scardino. 

In its first two seasons, “Girls5eva” was a bright spot among Peacock’s original programming. It’s a smart, hilarious show about the reunion of a briefly popular 2000s girl group, full of the kind of layered pop-culture references and oddball characters that Fey and Carlock are known for. “Girls5eva” may have suffered from being among Peacock’s earliest original series, debuting at a time when the service had few subscribers and minimal buzz. If it had premiered a bit later, it could have joined shows like “Poker Face” and “The Traitors” among Peacock’s breakout hits.

Instead, it’s been a hidden gem for the past few years. Anyone who discovered it would be delighted to find such a clever, fun, well-acted show, which now has the chance to reach a much bigger audience as a Netflix original. Sara Bareilles, Busy Philipps, Paula Pell and Renée Elise Goldsberry star as the former members of Girls5eva, who experience an unexpected resurgence when one of their past singles is sampled by a hot young rapper. Eager to capitalize on that attention, they reunite and attempt to re-enter a very different music industry from the one they experienced when they were in their 20s.

‘Girls5eva’ is a pitch-perfect pop-culture satire

From the beginning, “Girls5eva” has relentlessly skewered the music industry, especially the casual sexism inherent in the pop music of the 2000s. A girl group put together by a sleazy male music mogul, Girls5eva never had control over the songs they performed or the image they projected, and the show has a seemingly endless supply of amusingly problematic past Girls5eva songs. 

One of the best episodes of the new third season features the group getting hired to perform at a rich trophy wife’s nostalgia-themed party, bringing up memories of “Sweet and Low Daddy,” a deeply uncomfortable Girls5eva ode to gold-digging.

The secret weapon of “Girls5eva” is composer Jeff Richmond (Tina Fey’s real-life husband), who’s behind most of the uncannily accurate pastiches of vintage pop music. Working with Scardino and the show’s other writers, Richmond brings a level of authenticity to the music that elevates the comedy. The songs are catchy and danceable, and they could easily fit alongside hits by also-ran artists like O-Town and Dream. 

Before watching “Girls5eva,” you’ll want to disable auto-play on Netflix, because the closing credits of nearly every episode feature extended versions of songs from earlier in the episode, which deserve to be heard in full. You’ll want to stay away from the “Skip Intro” button, too, because the theme song is a pleasure to listen to every time it plays.

The characters are just as entertaining as the comedy


(Image credit: Heidi Gutman/Peacock)

“Girls5eva” isn’t just about taking on obvious satirical targets. It’s also a warm, upbeat ensemble comedy about female friendship, with some surprisingly affecting arcs for its four main characters. 

Unlike a lot of acclaimed streaming comedies, “Girls5eva” is full of jokes and never detours into heavy drama, but it still offers a chance for its characters to grow and mature, even if that’s in a totally ridiculous way. Bareilles’ Dawn is the most grounded character, a married mother whose life seemed calm and settled before the Girls5eva reunion, but she proves just as weird and needy as her bandmates when faced with a potential return to stardom.

Keeping Dawn relatable allows the other characters to go big, especially Goldsberry as Wickie, the one Girls5eva member who managed a short solo career and has an inflated sense of her own fame and talent. The third season tells a slightly more serialized story than the first two, over the course of just six episodes rather than eight, as Girls5eva mounts their first headlining tour since reuniting. 

That gives each character the chance for a substantial storyline, from Wickie’s visit home to reveal the secrets she’s been keeping about her childhood, to the impending birth of Dawn’s second child. Pell’s Gloria explores a literal spreadsheet of “every type of lesbian” following her divorce from her wife, and the codependent Summer (Philipps) attempts to establish her individuality after her own divorce, from fellow pop-music has-been Kev (Andrew Rannells).

Kev is just one of many distinctive, entertaining supporting characters that “Girls5eva” has established over the course of three seasons. The third season features a range of guest stars from singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson to prolific character actor Richard Kind (as himself), all fitting into the show’s absurd, energetic world. 

Audiences may have missed out on “Girls5eva” thus far, but that just means they have three full seasons of funny, bizarre, exuberant, tune-filled episodes to catch up with on Netflix right now.

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Josh Bell

Josh Bell is a freelance writer and movie/TV critic based in Las Vegas. He's the former film editor of Las Vegas Weekly and has written about movies and TV for Vulture, Inverse, CBR, Crooked Marquee and more. With comedian Jason Harris, he co-hosts the podcast Awesome Movie Year.