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Girls5eva

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What it’s about:

Riding a wave of nostalgia after a rapper samples their one hit song, a girl group from the late 1990s reunites to stage a comeback.

Names you might know:

The present-day girl group is made up singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, Hamilton star Renée Elise Goldsberry, former SNL writer Paula Pell, and Busy Philipps (Cougar Town, Freaks and Geeks). Tina Fey executive produces (and also makes a cameo as a spot-on dream version of Dolly Parton). Other notable guest stars include Andrew Rannells, Stephen Colbert, Bowen Yang, and Vanessa Williams.

Why it’s worth your time:

Sometimes you just want to turn your brain off and indulge in some nostalgia and silliness. When you get into that headspace, a show like Girls5eva is the perfect choice. It doesn’t ask much of its audience beyond a knowledge of pop culture and an appreciation of the fizziest pop trends of the past. The music is catchy, the cast is superb, and the satire is sharp.

Multi-talented, multi-hyphenate sensation Sara Bareilles plays Dawn, the “chill” one. She’s the first character we meet (in the midst of a mammogram), and the most sensible of the group. Although Bareilles has hosted and judged variety shows, performed in musicals, and played herself on TV before, this is her first starring role in an ongoing comedy series, and it’s great to see that she has the chops to pull it off. I hope it won’t be her last.

As for the rest of the gals, there’s Busy Philipps as Summer, who is hot, dumb, and full of confidence but blind to her own relationship troubles. She may not be well known as a musical performer, but she’s got a great voice (as a fan of the radio-show podcast The Thrilling Adventure Hour I could have told you that years ago). Then there’s Paula Pell as Gloria, who has probably changed the most since the group’s glory days. She’s come out of the closet, built a thriving dental practice, and freed herself from the pressure of maintaining the false ideal of the perfect pop star appearance. Rounding out the group is Renée Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton‘s Angelica) who boldly inhabits her diva character Wickie without any trace of self-consciousness and has the powerhouse vocals to back it up.

The musical numbers perfectly walk the line between parody and legitimate bops. Take the group’s one hit single, “Famous 5eva,” for example. It’s full of ridiculous, hilariously ironic lyrics like, “Gonna be famous 5eva, cause 4ever’s 2 short,” but it will also be stuck in your head the rest of the day. Other songs include, “Dream Girlfriends,” “New York Lonely Boy,” and “The Splingee.” If you dig them, I’ve got good news for you—the soundtrack is already available.

A show like this couldn’t work without a strong creative team behind it, and this team includes executive producer Tina Fey. It shouldn’t come as any surprise, then, that the wacky characters, abundant references, and rapid-fire one-liners give off major 30 Rock vibes. For fans who miss that show, it’s like returning to an era when over-the-top, single-camera comedies made for the sake of laughs alone ruled the airwaves. Fey is joined here by her husband Jeff Richmond, who also composed the songs with creator and showrunner Meredith Scardino (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt).

There’s a lot to enjoy about this show no matter the demographic, but it should really hit home with women who can see themselves in the characters. They’re not as young and trendy as they once were, but they still have talent and a bond that’s only strengthened with time. If you want to see a commentary on the fleeting nature of fame, society’s uncomfortable relationship with maturing women, or the strength of female friendships, you’ll certainly find all that in Girls5eva. But if all you want to do is laugh and enjoy some fun tunes that take you back, you can get that too.

The takeaway:

Loaded with talent in front of and behind the cameras, this throwback musical comedy is wacky, mindless fun with a satirical edge. And there are only eight episodes, so it’s hardly a serious commitment.

Watch it with:

Your friends from way back, so you can reminisce about the good times together.

Worth noting:

Although most of the show’s songs were written by Richmond and Scardino, Bareilles contributed a couple herself, including “4 Stars,” a song her character in the show writes for the group about the beauty of being your imperfect self.

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