One Hit Wonder Girl Group Tries To Rekindle Their Fame Years Later As Music And Comedy Converge In ‘Girls5Eva’
When a musical group scores a hit, it changes their lives. Even if it’s a one-hit wonder.
But, the passage of time also changes everything, especially people.
So the question becomes, can a group that had a hit, then split, rekindle the success they once enjoyed?
This is the premise of the new comedy series Girls5Eva which takes a look at what happens when a ‘90s girl group reunites to give their pop star dreams one more shot.
The problem is, things are drastically different from those early days when they were a group as these grown women are now juggling spouses, kids, jobs, debt, aging parents, and even some shoulder pain.
“I wanted to write a show about women in my age group and be able to talk about all the things that you go through as being a woman in your 40s, and I thought it would be amazing to do it with this backdrop of pop music,” says Girls5Eva creator Meredith Scardino. She says the combination feels like, ‘very fertile duet.’
She brought the idea to Tina Fey and Robert Carlock of 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt fame, and they came onboard as executive producers, bringing along Jeff Richmond to help with the musical aspect of the series.
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Talking about casting the series, which stars Busy Phillips (Cougar Town, Busy Tonight), Grammy winner Sarah Bareilles, Tony winner Renee Elise Goldsberry, and Paul Pell (Saturday Night Live, Wine Country), Fey says, “We started the process with taking a wild run at Sara. I said, ‘Let’s try to meet with Sara.’ We did and then we tricked her. And once we had her name, then we were like, ‘Do we go — do we try Renée?’ Then we were like ‘let’s shoot for people who can all sing for real because it makes it so lovely and present, not just in full performance moments, but in scenes where people are working something out. It’s so great when they just sing for a second and it’s real.”
Bareilles, who wrote the music for and performed in the Broadway show Waitress, is taking on her first regular on-screen TV role. “Waitress has oddly prepared me in ways I never imagined,” she says, adding, “I mean, people who are a part of the theater understand the stamina [needed].”
She calls the series, ‘a dream fantasy,’ saying, “It’s comedy and music, and female empowerment, and stories about women – slightly heightened – but based in reality.”
Richmond says that he created several full-length songs and about 200 11-second songs. “You get your money’s worth. That’s all I’m saying.”
Scardino says that Richmond was amazing at taking ‘the weirdest, stupidest lyrics’ and making them into fully-formed, fun songs that felt very appropriate.
Bareilles also wrote an original song for the series, which Richmond says, “really gives us a lot of street cred.”
Describing how her character sings, Phillips says, “In the beginning [she] says that she can’t really harmonize. She just floats to whatever note the person next to her is singing. And that is, actually, sort of true to me. So, I can sing them pretty and loud, but it’s probably going to be just the note that the person next to me is singing. Although I will say that as the season went on, I mean, I got so much better at it.”
Pell says that she’s quite the alto, adding, “On a beautiful, lyrical ship, I’m like a rusty anchor with a thick rope that’s a little frayed. But I will keep it down here.”
As for the ladies’ musical real-life musical influences, Phillips says that she followed The Spice Girls in their heyday. Fey is a fan of The Bangles, The Go-Go’s and The Roches. Pell added that Salt N’ Pepa is one of her favorite groups, while Scardino and Bareilles say that they’re fans of Destiny’s Child. Goldsberry added TLC to the list.
Richmond and Carlock joked they the favor the Lennon, McGuire, and Andrews sisters. Richamond also said, “Oh, my God. I’m a huge Kane head. A Candy Kane as we call ourselves,” referring to the group Danity Kane,” to which Scardino responded, “I watched that whole show called Making the Band with P. Diddy putting together Danity Kane. I watched the hell out of that.”
Music aside, Bareilles says that the series is really about, “our characters going through the realization that the things they were singing as young women were maybe not so awesome, But, [now] they’re coming into the space of finding their voice and finding their own empowered presence of mind.
Phillips adds, “Thematically, for me, a part of the appeal is that it’s about these women who when they were pop stars they had no control over the words that were coming out of their mouths, the dance moves, [what] they were wearing and the relationships that they were put in. Now they’re in a different place in their lives, and the question becomes, ‘how do you take ownership of your own story and how do you rewrite it?’”
There is another unique element to the narrative, says Scardino. “I think it’s interesting to show the fact that these were initially five women that were just thrown together – full strangers – and then it was over as fast as it started, and they all went their separate ways. They didn’t choose each other back then, but I think when they come back [together] now they’d choose each other. I think [it’s] cool to see them make the choice to be together and see where this group can go.”
‘Girls5Eva’ premieres Thursday, May 6th on Peacock.