Join or Sign In

Sign in to customize your TV listings

Continue with Facebook Continue with email

By joining TV Guide, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

Girls5eva Is Better Than Ever in Its Netflix Debut

The dazzling comedy from the team behind 30 Rock and Kimmy Schmidt moves to Netflix for its third season, and it deserves to be a hit

Maggie Fremont
Sara Bareilles, Paula Pell, Busy Philipps, and Renee Elise Goldsberry, Girls5eva

Sara Bareilles, Paula Pell, Busy Philipps, and Renee Elise Goldsberry, Girls5eva

Emily V Aragones/Netflix

These days, there are always going to be great shows that get overlooked. Such is the nature of the great TV glut. With not only a wild amount of options when it comes to series to watch, but a wild amount of places to watch them, shows on smaller platforms — especially shows that buck the trend of what's popular at the moment — have to fight, many times futilely, to build an audience. That has to be true, right? It's really the only explanation as to why a show like Girls5eva — a show clearly at the top of its game — hasn't hit in a bigger way. The comedy's first two seasons aired on Peacock, a streamer that has yet to be able to compete with the big boys, and while prestige dramedies like The Bear or heartfelt comedies like Abbott Elementary continue to soak up the comedy spotlight, there doesn't seem to be as much appetite for a zany, zippy, joke-dense sitcom like Girls5eva. And that's just sad. If you're not watching Girls5eva, you're missing out. But with the show's recent move to Netflix for its third season, this is the perfect time to correct that mistake, because the thing is, as simplistic as it sounds, Girls5eva rules. And much like the four former (hopefully current again, one day) pop stars at its center, it's only gotten better with age.

Spring Guide 2024

Click through for the latest on spring TV

Girls5eva premiered on Peacock in 2021 as a very fully realized version of itself: a rapid-fire pop culture reference-palooza, unafraid to skewer, well, everything — from the music industry it's set in to the streamers it airs on, from evangelical Christians to Italians, and everything (no, I mean it) in between. If you read that and are thinking, "Hmm, that sounds really similar to 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," good; you're paying attention. Girls5eva was very much born from those shows. G5E creator Meredith Scardino was a writer on Kimmy Schmidt, and executive producers Tina Fey, Robert Carlock, David Miner, Eric Gurian, and Jeff Richmond all had hands in those other two shows. Richmond does the music here as well, so it sounds like those shows on multiple levels. 

Girls5eva catches up with the four members of a girl pop group (the titular Girls5eva) 20 years after they rose to fame and fell just as quickly during the early 2000s onslaught of teen pop. When a rapper named Lil' Stinker (Jeremiah Craft) samples one of the group's songs, they decide to grasp on to their newfound relevancy for dear life. They reunite and try to make a go at it again after not having kept in contact for decades, but they quickly learn making a name for themselves in the music business is going to be much more difficult the second time around. 

Busy Philipps, Paula Pell, Renee Elise Goldsberry, and Sara Bareilles, Girls5e

Busy Philipps, Paula Pell, Renee Elise Goldsberry, and Sara Bareilles, Girls5eva

Emily V Aragones/Netflix

Much like pop groups from that era, each character fits into a distinct archetype, but thankfully, the show works to let each character surprise us with depth. Sara Barielles plays Dawn, the closest this comedy has to a straight-man role, although she's given ample room to be just as ridiculous as the rest of them (Season 3 gives us a glimpse at a risky side hustle Dawn took up back in the day that makes me laugh every time I think about it). Dawn gave up music to work at her brother's Italian-ish restaurant and is now a wife and mother. Out of everyone, she takes the most umbrage with the messages their old songs sent to impressionable young girls. They're not even questionable; they're overtly terrible. Some of their old hits include "Your Wife Sux" and "Sweet'N Low Daddy." Dawn wants to correct those mistakes with new songs this time around. 

Paula Pell is Gloria, who wasn't out at the time of Girls5eva's fame — her "sex tape" with Lance Bass didn't even give it away, a real feat — but when the ladies reunite, she's a dentist and newly divorced from her wife, Caroline (Janine Brito). In Season 2, Gloria winds up high on Percocet, and Pell delivers an impression of Liam Gallagher that honestly might be life-changing. Busy Philipps plays the dim-witted, well-meaning, and constantly underestimated Summer, who made a name for herself after Girls5eva working on projects with her (soon to be ex) husband Kev (Andrew Rannells), himself a former boy band member. 

And finally, there's the show's clear MVP, Wickie Roy, played with delightful commitment and unmatched comedic timing by Renée Elise Goldsberry. Wickie is the "diva" of the group and proud of it — her desire for fame and glory burns brighter than anyone's, and the depths of her narcissism know no bounds. We love her for it all. Like any good comedy, the chemistry between the cast can make or break it, and the chemistry between these four women is instant and undeniable. Every combination of the four of them in a scene is a winning one, and it doesn't hurt that it looks like they're all having the time of their lives. 

More on Netflix:

While the cast is surely a reason why Girls5eva works so well, there's one other element you can attribute to the show's success: efficiency. "Efficiency" isn't a sexy word by any means, but its importance shouldn't be overlooked. The writers have under 30 minutes to cram in as many jokes, references, and satiric send-ups as they can, and they pull it off in every episode. Not every joke lands, but there's barely any time to dwell on a failed bit, because a new one is right behind it. And they don't stop there — the visual gags on Girls5eva are worth the price of admission alone. In Season 3, there's a running gag about the women, now on tour, using Gloria's credit card points to stay at the Marriott's Divorced Dad Suitelets. Yes, there are tons of jokes in the dialogue about it, and we even meet some of those Divorced Dads, but there are also so many visual gags in the background that aren't even commented on that hit so hard; every frame, every space within a frame, is utilized for comedy. 

The efficiency goes beyond the comedy, though: You'd think with all the jokes flying around, there wouldn't be time for other things like well-earned character development, and yet Girls5eva pulls it off. Everything about the series has gotten sharper with each season, but it's this aspect that really shines in Season 3. While the first two seasons really focused on the group becoming a group again, playing with themes of loyalty and trust as the women raced to figure out a way to perform at Jingle Ball (Season 1) or finish an album in six weeks (Season 2), Season 3 hones in on their individual growth as people (we even get a finale song about the importance of growth, even if it's slow — it's also about the importance of actor Richard Kind, but that's Girls5eva for you!). The six-episode third season, which follows the group on their Returnity World Tour in hopes of being able to sell out a final show at their dream venue, shows us Dawn accepting that she really does want to make music her career, Summer figuring out who she is without a man in her life, Gloria making up for lost time in her dating life and going on a selfish bender and back, and Wickie really, truly growing a heart. The writers and the cast are always making the most out of the little time they're given. The plot structure, in which each season is focused on one main goal for the group, is simplistic, but again, that's in the name of efficiency. It gives each season momentum, keeps the stakes clear, and makes room for everything else the show is juggling. I mean, we haven't even gotten to the ridiculous, and ridiculously catchy, original songs, of which there are an abundance! 

So maybe efficiency is sexy! Or, at least, an overlooked skill that makes for a great comedy. And being overlooked and underrated is baked into Girls5eva, both within the story of the show and how the series has been received thus far. Perhaps, with its move to Netflix, this won't be the case for much longer. Perhaps people won't wait 5eva to watch it. Perhaps Girls5eva's time is now.

All three seasons of Girls5eva are available to stream on Netflix.