The way I figure it, Tina Fey owes me money.
Since NBCUniversal launched Peacock last July, I've been happy to ignore the streaming service. I'm not particularly nostalgic for reruns of The Office, and I can take and (mostly) leave Harry Potter and his wizard pals. Even the addition of Premier League soccer and WWE wrestling wasn't enough to get me take much notice of what Peacock had to offer, let alone set aside $5 every month to pay for the ad-supported version of the service.
Then I made the mistake of giving Girls5Eva a try.
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That's no reflection on the show itself. The show, created by Meredith Scardino and executive produced by Fey very much in the style of her past shows like 30 Rock and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, is very entertaining. It follows the exploits of the four surviving members of an all-girl band — the fifth died in an infinity pool mishap — as they attempt a comeback from their one-hit-wonder glory days of the 1990s.
The show is a razor-sharp satire of the music business with some of the best barbs aimed at the thorough inappropriateness of the lyrics sung by modern-day girl groups. (It's hard to tell if the lyrics to "Jailbait" or "Dream Girlfriend" are more in need of a warning label.) If one of the show's jokes doesn't land, there's usually half-a-dozen more coming up right behind. And I can only stand in dumb admiration of the Simon & Garfunkel-like sound that pervades New York Lonely Boy.
No, Girls5Eva is great. It's the way Peacock choose to distribute it that has me sputtering in outrage. Because like a drug dealer who's swapped out narcotics in favor of peddling breezy TV comedies, Peacock wants you to know that the first one is free. Or, in the case of Girls5Eva, the first three are free.
To put it another way, you can watch the first three Girls5Eva episodes on Peacock's free tier, with only an ad or three to suffer through. Then, just as you're getting into show — admiring Sara Bareilles' deft hand at comedy, wondering if this is the part Busy Philipps was born to play, thrilling at Stephen Colbert's walk-on as a pop music Svengali — Peacock cheekily informs you that you have to get a subscription if you have any hopes of watching the first season's remaining five episode.
Devilishly clever of you, Peacock.
That presents a bit of a dilemma for me, as I'm the sort of person who hates adding streaming services willy-nilly. I gave up cable TV to save money on my monthly entertainment budget, not to spend an equal or greater amount each month on an alphabet soup of streaming services. There's only so much money I'm willing to pay each month for TV, and if I'm going to add Peacock, that means I'm going to have to put the kibosh on one of the other streaming options. We just did this a while back when I cancelled Netflix in order to grudgingly add Paramount Plus so that I could get my NWSL soccer fix.
But that doesn't leave us with much to cancel. Our Apple TV subscription is currently free through the grace of Tim Cook and many, many Apple hardware purchases. Our Hulu services comes bundled with our Spotify subscription, and we get Amazon Prime Video as a bonus for our free Amazon shipping. There's Disney Plus, but if I even think about cancelling that I'm going to have to sleep with one eye open, given the dark mutterings my daughter still grunts about my Netflix decision. ("You know what I really miss?" she say dreamily at breakfast before staring at me and pointedly adding, "Netflix.")
Instead, we may have to do the streaming service equivalent of a smash-and-grab — pay my $4.99, watch all the Girls5Eva my heart desires, and then cancel my Peacock subscription before anyone's the wiser. Ah, but what happens if I decide to check out other things while I'm there — say, Rutherford Falls, another Peacock-exclusive show with a strong pedigree and appealing cast? Or that I start to binge on Peacock's impressive library of Alfred Hitchcock movies? Or, if my subscription lingers into summer, if Peacock includes some of NBC's Olympic coverage. (Right now, it looks like it's just going to be studio shows from Tokyo, but one day, men's water polo or the fencing finals could show up on Peacock, and then I'm stuck.) The next thing you know, it's the end of summer and the Premier League is starting again, and I've got another monthly streaming service I just can't shake.
So congratulations Tina Fey, on putting together a real nice show. Please pass along my compliments to the Girls5Eva cast and crew. My invoice will be in the mail shortly.