Girls5Eva Season 3 Review: Still an Addictive Earworm on Netflix

Girls5Eva season 3 hasn't missed a beat since its Peacock days, but its absurdist comedy might lack staying power on Netflix.

GIRLS5EVA. (L to R) Busy Philipps as Summer, Paula Pell as Gloria, Renee Elise Goldsberry as Wickie and Sara Bareilles as Dawn in GIRLS5EVA (Season 3, Episode 02).
Photo: Emily V Aragones | Netflix

There’s a very specific brand of broad silliness that Tina Fey and Robert Carlock have championed across comedies like 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Mr. Mayor. Their shows exist in a fluid reality where it feels like anything is possible.

Meredith Scardino worked on the latter of these two series and her original creation, Girls5Eva, is very much cut from the same absurdist cloth. The music industry lampoon received plenty of attention when it first premiered on Peacock, only to fade away like a forgotten pop music group. It’s exciting that Netflix has rescued the effort, which is just as hilarious as ever, yet Girls5Eva still feels destined to resonate with a niche crowd instead of becoming the streaming service’s next big hit. This comedy can hit the right notes, but it’s not going to pack a stadium full of fans.

Girls5Eva remains one of the densest laughs-per-minute comedies with relentless cutaway gags that cram an hour’s worth of silliness into half hour episodes. There’s a Wikipedia entry’s worth of knowledge on Fort Worth, Texas, an extended never-ending bit about Marriott Divorced Dad Suitelets, and what The Crown devolves into after all the royal drama is finished. There are so many time-based gags that jump through different decades of the group’s lengthy history with pitch-perfect costume and set design that beautifully reflects the minutiae of each era that the series jumps into. Girls5Eva is deeply funny, but the art design and music is frequently its secret weapon and what sets it apart from other comedies.

Girls5Eva effortlessly dominates with its joke writing, dialogue, and visual gags (there’s a ludicrous “hardscrabble” joke that I’m still laughing at), but the character development and storytelling feels somewhat lacking and lost, much like Girls5Eva themselves. Girls5Eva is hilarious. However, it still feels largely disposable and easy to forget about once it’s over. There’s not enough substance to latch onto here beyond the music parodies and girl power camaraderie. There are also a lot of Netflix jokes (including one that technically places Girls5Eva in the Black Mirror universe) now that Girls5Eva has moved from its previous streaming service home.

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This new season dabbles in a decent seasonal arc where the group strives to push themselves out of their comfort zone as they prepare for a make-or-break concert at Radio City Music Hall. This certainly generates high stakes for the six-episode season, but it doesn’t feel that different from the show’s first two years. Girls5Eva would benefit from heeding its own advice and working more to break its patterns and tackle new ground. This doesn’t mean that it has to be a completely new series for its Netflix years, but one feels as if this show could still challenge itself a little more than just continually playing the hits.

Each character gets their own mini-crisis to work through that doesn’t amount to much, but still allows for each Girls5Eva member to marginally grow. Gloria (Paula Pell) tries to embrace one-night stands even though she just wants to love and give her heart completely to someone. Wickie (Renée Elise Goldsberry) takes the reins as the group’s lead, while she engages in a deeper look into her childhood, family life, and how she’s been perpetually coddled and lacks the necessary pressure in her past to push her to true greatness. Summer (Busy Philipps) experiences an identity crisis as she figures out who she is without Kevin — and men at large — for the first time in her life. Meanwhile, Dawn’s (Sara Bareilles) pregnancy looms over most of what she does this year.

There’s some sense of closure when it comes to Girl5Eva’s collective story arcs, but each character’s individual dilemmas are largely stagnant over the course of the season. It’s not until the final few minutes of the season finale that Girls5Eva speed-runs through solutions to everyone’s problems. It all feels like the bare minimum of work that needs to be done for these storylines. This further reflects Girls5Eva’s laissez-faire attitude and how it’s ultimately more about the gags than the character development and drama.

Unlike past seasons, Girls5Eva adopts a fun structure this year where each episode is set in a different city of the group’s tour, all of which is set to culminate in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall. This formula keeps the narrative on track and facilitates perpetual regional gags that playfully poke fun at each of these locations, which include the Ozarks, Maryland, and Orlando. It’s an effective way to keep the series fresh and a six-episode season is just short enough that this device doesn’t wear thin.

Girls5Eva remains unabashedly itself and if this is the end, it at least goes out on its own terms. It does feel unlikely that it will return for a fourth season, even if it tees one up and thinks that it will. Regardless, this is still a fun, little epilogue that its fans will enjoy and the move to Netflix will likely bring more eyes to this cult-status comedy. It’s ultimately better to get a few more bars of Girls5Eva’s comedy than nothing at all, even if the song remains the song.

All six episodes of Girls5Eva season 3 are available to stream on Netflix now.

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3.5 out of 5