Here’s the thing about Girls5eva, the Peacock comedy series created by Meredith Scardino, now entering its second season: You are either an Xennial woman who will feel so seen by every single moment of the series that it will be impossible for you to not text every line to your friends and hum “BPE” regularly, or… you aren’t. That’s not to say that Girls5eva isn’t an extremely fun and witty satire of the music industry that could easily be enjoyed by anyone interested in a tightly-packed half-hour comedy. But if you are its niche target demographic, there’s no expressing the heights of its excellence.
In Season 2, the members of this formerly (and briefly) one-hit girl group are in “Album Mode.” What is Album Mode? “#AlbumMode is a state of mind that started when our deal was announced and ends when I am at the Met Gala in a catheter because my dress is too complicated,” explains Wickie (Renée Elise Goldsberry) to Dawn (Sara Bareilles), whose apartment she is currently living in. Nowhere to go but up!
With six weeks to finish a 16-track album, the new eight-episode season follows the women on a whirlwind journey to make the dream of their reunion a reality. And it is, naturally, fraught with personal setbacks. Gloria (Paula Pell) destroys her knee after a risky dance move to impress a label representative, Summer (Busy Philipps) is trying to finalize her divorce from a reluctant Kev (Andrew Rannells), Dawn is struggling with finding inspiration for new songs, and Wickie is… well, Wickie.
Though all of the Girls5eva women are fantastic, Goldsberry continues to be just one spectacularly big, bright, hilarious cut above. Because that is, of course, Wickie. But while Girls5eva does go big with its humor and takes its beats from sitcoms to a point, it also allows its characters to quietly grow—which is the real crux of Season 2. Finding new, adult roles for themselves in this girl group is part of that (along with the joy of success on their own terms), but it’s also about their growth as people. And yet, the show never makes that feel forced or lame; how could it, when the culmination of their efforts is the song “Big Pussy Energy”? (B-P-E!)
When Girls5eva first premiered on Peacock, I lamented that it wasn’t on regular NBC where it might find a bigger audience. But maybe it’s not necessarily meant for one. The show continues to mine so much material from the toxic, misogynistic pop culture that shaped… well, all of human history, but definitely ‘90s entertainment that was purportedly for and about women. For some viewers, myself definitely included, it’s cathartic. There is a sense of rebirth here built on a new, enlightened, and empowered understanding of 21st century womanhood, wonderfully represented by the unlikely triumph of the group.
But that doesn’t mean they’re not still idiots sometimes, and there are certainly plenty of jokes—so many, in fact, that it makes the season worth a rewatch to fully appreciate the things it glosses by: Wickie’s literal Rolodex of riffs, Dawn’s 8-minute song using all 300+ dictionary definitions of “set,” a coat “from the Nicole Kidman Undoing Collection,” a man saying he defines himself as a parade-sized boy, and a line that called me out extremely specifically—“hey guy dressed entirely in swag from cancelled shows!”
That specificity of time, place, people, is what makes Girls5eva so wonderfully dense and rewarding to watch. Like the group itself, it knows what it wants to say and it makes no apologies for it. The songs remain great and catchy (I’ll never stop singing that theme song at every opportunity), and from top to bottom the series winningly mixes together low-key humor with laugh-out-loud moments (the finale, in particular, is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a very long time). Grounding it, though, is how the women always try and do the right thing, both for themselves and for those they represent. They’re discovering their own power, and some of their own foibles, and they are owning all of it. That’s BPE, folks—and you don’t want to miss it. Yeah yeah yeah!
Girls5eva Season 2 returns to Peacock Thursday, May 5th with 3 episodes; new episodes will premiere weekly.
Allison Keene is the TV Editor of Paste Magazine. For more television talk, pop culture chat and general japery, you can follow her @keeneTV
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