The stars of Girls5eva discuss a second season of the Tina Fey-produced sitcom that finds the ’90s pop group in “album mode”
For a minute there, it seemed like reunited one-hit-wonder Girls5eva might just fade back into obscurity. Wickie (Renée Elise Goldsberry) abandoned ship for a lucrative gig judging American Warrior Singer (a brilliant fusion of American Ninja Warrior and America’s Got Talent). And the band’s attempt to revive their fifth, dearly departed member (Ashley Park) in hologram form wasn’t quite the tech success they had envisioned. But when the chance to perform at Jingle Ball brought the four surviving members back together—financial ruin be damned—the Girls suddenly seemed unstoppable again. W Network
The outset of season two finds the ladies riding high. “They’re in album mode this season,” says Sara Bareilles, who plays de facto group leader Dawn. “They’ve gotten a small record deal with a new record label, Property Brothers Records—which is going to be huge!—and they don’t want to waste this opportunity. Dawn is really trying to grab the reins here and be the motor for the creative process, getting songs up and off the ground. And we’re finding what their collaboration looks like when they’re trying to actually be in the creative process.”
American Warrior Singer and Property Brothers Records are, of course, the latest in a long line of absurdist jokes that producer Tina Fey and creator Meredith Scardino make about the entertainment business. But as we know, showbiz is often stranger than fiction. Given that they themselves are veterans of entertainment in real life, we had to ask the actresses: do these jokes—crazy though they may seem—have a basis in reality?
W Network“All of them,” Goldsberry says, without hesitation. “Absolutely all of them.”
“One thousand per cent,” Bareilles concurs. “Life is completely absurd. Just take a look around. We do hover off the ground a little bit with this show, but it’s only slightly. The dial is just barely tilted towards the absurd in a way that helps us hold it lightly and with laughter. But almost all of these scenarios feel fairly probable... Somebody’s got a record label that shouldn’t. You know what I mean?”
Season two also digs deeper into the four divas as individuals. “Dawn is in the mode of trying to juggle her personal and professional life because she really wants this,” says Bareilles. “She, for the first time, is allowing herself to voice the fact that she really wants this to work. She wants to be a part of the group. She wants to write these songs and feel like a real artist. And the repercussions that has on your personal life... Yes, you can have it all, but it does take some finessing.”
W NetworkFor the fiercely ambitious and fame-hungry Wickie, the second season is a time of personal reckoning. “It’s interesting to see somebody who’s been solely defined by who she is professionally creep into, ‘Who am I in human mode? Who am I personally?’” Goldsberry muses, teasing a bit of romance: “ ‘What kind of person would I be vulnerable with, outside of my group bandmates and best friends? What kind of significant other would I be?’”
Gloria, played by former SNL writer Paula Pell, hits a hurdle right out of the gate with an onstage injury. “Gloria is going so hard at the beginning of this season and has to learn a quick lesson to calm down a little because she hurts herself physically,” Pell explains. “She has to learn to have faith—it’s not a race, take it slow, and do it right. But even in her personal life of trying to get back with her ex-wife, there’s so much energy, in the first half of the season, of Gloria trying to force it, and make it all happen.”
W NetworkDespite her bandmate/best friend Summer (Busy Philipps) urging Gloria to explore what else is out there for her, Gloria wants a return to the familiar. “In the first season, they wrote Gloria saying, ‘When we had that one hit and then our group failed, I immediately went to become a dentist, because I wanted that security, I wanted foundation, I wanted safety.’ This year, I think she’s being challenged to stay in the scary zone longer to see what she really loves and really wants to do,” says Pell.
For her part, Summer is still reeling from a breakup after discovering that her marriage to fellow pop star Kevin (Andrew Rannells) wasn’t working for either of them. “Summer is trying to figure out who she is on her own terms, not who he wants her to be, or who her parents wanted her to be, or what some creepy manager from the ’90s wanted her to be,” says Philipps. “She’s really trying to find herself and where she belongs in the group and how she even talks in real life, which is a journey.”
W NetworkWhile the four actors have gelled behind the scenes, making their experience together pure joy, the ladies recognize that the appeal of their series continues to be the what-if aspirations of a one-hit-wonder. “There’s something really incredible about anything that captures everyone’s collective attention and focus for a second, and then you’re like, ‘Wait, what happened?’” says Philipps. “Sometimes they have big stories, like Milli Vanilli, but sometimes... I was at a spa and this woman was giving me a massage and she was like, ‘I was in a band.’ I pulled up her [info on the Internet] and she literally, in the ’80s, had this one-hit-wonder. These people just go on and live their life. They walk among us. So, I think people are really fascinated with what is it to have that taste of having your dream-come-true, and then your dream is taken away from you—because everybody’s got a dream.”
Girls5Eva airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. & 9:35 p.m. on W Network