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‘Girls5eva’ has earmarks of a Tina Fey-Robert Carlock collaboration

From left: Renée Elise Goldsberry, Sara Bareilles, Paula Pell, and Busy Philipps in "Girls5eva."
From left: Renée Elise Goldsberry, Sara Bareilles, Paula Pell, and Busy Philipps in "Girls5eva."Peacock

You can often tell when Tina Fey and Robert Carlock of “30 Rock” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” have been involved in a TV show. Their comedic sensibility, dense with socially relevant zingers, clever in-jokes, and far-flung cultural allusions, has an unmistakable rhythm and tone. You can certainly feel them in the mix on Peacock’s comedy “Girls5eva,” here as executive producers. The show, created by Meredith Scardino of “The Colbert Report” and “Saturday Night Live,” is an onslaught of wit, pure silliness, nostalgia, and absurdity, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The eight-episode season finds the four surviving members of a late-1990s girl band called Girls5eva considering a comeback after their one old hit is sampled by a new hip-hop artist named Li’l Stinker. Each of the women is a type, more or less, but the actresses add enough distinctive notes and meta-awareness to make the roles very much their own. Sara Bareilles is a creative and sincere waitress looking for purpose, Paula Pell is a dentist who was boy crazy during the band’s heyday but is now a lesbian, Busy Philipps is a dumber-than-dumb blonde with heavy-duty vocal fry, and Renée Elise Goldsberry, who is particularly sharp on the show, is an ambitious narcissist. In one episode, Goldsberry’s character, Wickie, unwittingly becomes a meme and embraces it with gusto, hoping to ride it all the way to becoming the next Tyra Banks. She has a grand piano, which she has named Ghislaine, which she refuses to change despite its difficult associations.


As the gang gets back together, the show frequently flashes back to highlights of their brief moment of fame — “We’ve been best friends ever since we auditioned for a man in a motel in New Jersey,” we see Wickie say on MTV’s “TRL” — and their songs, whose lyrics are as bad as the band’s name. Guests show up, some in disguise, including Stephen Colbert, Fey, John Slattery, Vanessa Williams, Dean Winters, and Bowen Yang as a TikTok star famous for lip syncing. It all moves at the kind of pace where, if one gag doesn’t get you, another one probably will. Partly a satire of show business and fad culture, partly a portrait of women redefining themselves in midlife, “Girls5eva” is a punchy pleasure.