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REVIEW | Girls5eva is the self-aware comedy and celebration of female friendship we needed

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A comedy executive-produced by Tina Fey, and starring Sara Bareilles, I was already sold. But Girls5eva exceeded my expectations and left me a die-hard fan of a fictional girl group. 

Girls5eva (image – Heidi Gutman/Peacock)

Girls5eva follows the reunion of a 90s girl group, after a new hip-hop artist, Lil Stinker, samples their song. This already feels relevant and realistic, as old songs are being brought back to life in 2021. I heard a remix of Rasputin on the radio the other week!

I was immediately sold into their world, to the point where I was nostalgic over a girl group that never even existed. I felt like I truly had been a fan in my tween years. The clips from TRL, Cribs, and the reference to Nelly Furtado, it was pure 90s heaven.

The humour was self-aware in a way I haven’t seen since 30 Rock, which makes sense considering a lot of the team are behind both shows. The humour was dry, and at times dark, in a way that has the potential to translate really well to an Australian audience, if they give it the chance it deserves. I audibly laughed several times, even when watching on my own. The conflict between the two time-periods is a highlight, as they discover their old music perhaps doesn’t reflect their beliefs in 2021. Like the song, Dream Girlfriends.

Got big doe eyes that you can swim in,
Love watching stand-up, but not by women

You have Sara Bareilles as Dawn, the most grounded of the group. This was a successful opportunity for Sara to show her comedic side and timing, something perhaps only those who have seen her in Waitress or know her outside of her music may realise. Despite the humour and ridiculousness of some of the lyrics, she still demonstrates her immense talent. How does she manage to sound so beautiful while singing:

“And of course, I’m afraid
That somewhere, deep inside of me
Is a lost tampon”

Then you have Busy Philipps as Summer, another nod to the nostalgia factor for me, having watched her in Dawson’s Creek growing up. Summer is the most tragic of all; still reliving her glory days, and with a daughter named Stevia, she is incredibly likeable, and Busy plays this role perfectly.

I’ll skip over Ashley Park as Ashley, because we find out in the first episode that she died swimming off the edge of an infinity pool. Best. Death. Ever.

There’s Paula Pell as Gloria, a jaded lesbian divorcee dentist, living with her father and four dogs. Enough said. She was brilliant, and wasn’t always the butt of the joke as I first suspected, and worried, she might be. She had real depth, in fact each of these characters had their flaws and punching bag moments.

And finally, Renèe Elise Goldsberry as Wickie, the owner of a “fem-pire”. I didn’t buy her diva antics, because I know and love her as Angelica in Hamilton, and Mimi in Rent, and by all accounts she is an absolute angel. But as is revealed throughout the show, this wasn’t unconvincing acting on her behalf, but simply more depth to a complex character.

Not only hilarious, this was a true celebration of female characters and female friendships. Each woman was multi-faceted and three-dimensional; they had flaws, but they also had beautiful attributes. They related to the audience in a way reminiscent of Sex and the City, in that I naturally wanted to align with one of them. By the way, I am such a Dawn.

At eight episodes, each around 25 minutes, it was the perfect length for a story arc that didn’t drag. I watched it all in one sitting, which is an impressive feat for someone with my attention span, and speaks volumes about the show.

As a long-time, and ride or die Sara Bareilles fan, I had been waiting for this series since its commission, but I worry it is going unnoticed here in Australia. If I didn’t work with TV Blackbox, or closely follow Sara Bareilles’ social media feeds, I’m not sure I would have heard of it. It simply isn’t getting the hype it deserves, and I hope more audiences will give it a chance.

4 STARS (it’s more like a 4.5, but I had an opportunity to tie it in with the show, so I took it)!

Watch Girls5eva now on Stan.

Abbey Mikkelsen
Abbey Mikkelsen is a producer of the ANJ, ROB & ROBBO SHOW, having worked previously at STUDIO 10 as the Production Assistant. She is a writer and producer of the TV BLACKBOX podcast, and contributor to the TV Blackbox website. She is also the host & executive producer of the PLAYING IT BY EAR podcast. For all media enquiries, please contact Abbey via: [email protected]
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