In 2000, MTV dropped the made-for-TV movie 2Gether, a parody about a fictional boy band of the same name and its rival, Whoa. 2Gether consisted of five members, each cast to fit a very specific type, including "the bad boy" and "the heartthrob." The not-a-real-boy-band boy band eventually became real enough—or rather, popular enough—to spawn a short-lived TV series spin-off and a second album, 2Gether Again. They even did a stint opening for Britney Spears.
It seems doubtful the ladies of Girls5eva, the fictional late-'90s girl group in the new Peacock series Girls5eva, will be touring with Olivia Rodrigo anytime soon, but they nevertheless share quite a bit of DNA with 2Gether. Created by Meredith Scardino (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and starring Sara Bareilles, Renèe Elise Goldsberry, Busy Philipps, and Paula Pell, the comedy follows the group members as they attempt to stage a comeback and rekindle the magic of their heyday 20 years later. It's steeped in flashbacks poking fun at the same transparently manufactured bubblegum pop scene as that MTV predecessor, and the bonkers Girls5eva song lyrics are kindred spirits of 2Gether—compare "Gonna be famous five-ever/ 'Cause for-ever's too short" to, say, "I know my calculus/ It says you + me = us."
The first of eight episodes kicks off when a young rapper named Lil' Stinker (Jeremiah Craft) samples an old Girls5eva song and invites the defunct group to perform with him on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. The reunion comes at a time when the four remaining members—we learn that fifth member Ashley (Ashley Park), who appears in flashbacks, died in a freak accident involving an Infinity Pool—are in various states of mid-life crises. Dawn (Bareilles) is feeling unfulfilled working in her brother's restaurant; Gloria (Paula Pell) is a dentist reeling from divorce; Summer (Philipps) is a brand influencer trapped in a one-sided marriage; and Wickie (Goldsberry) has tried desperately to keep up the façade of a glam diva despite secretly being broke and out of work.
At first, Girls5eva relies too heavily on well-worn fodder; unlike 2gether—and later, Josie and the Pussycats and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping—this satire is 20 years removed from the music genre it's parodying, and sometimes, that's more of a flaw than an asset. If silly bits about 9/11, Total Request Live, and eccentric Swedish music hitmakers were the only things Girls5eva served up, the enterprise would seem unnecessary, like a sophomore album arriving two decades too late.