‘Girls5eva’ Emmys FYC panel: Sara Bareilles and Busy Philipps talk about being part of ‘pinch-me project’ [WATCH]

Six years after first partnering with Robert Carlock and Tina Fey to write for and eventually co-produce Netflix’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Meredith Scardino recruited the duo to co-produce her own show, “Girls5eva,” the second season finale of which aired earlier this month on Peacock. The musical comedy series about early 2000s girl group members reuniting in middle age stars Sara Bareilles, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Paula Pell and Busy Philipps, all of whom recently joined Scardino for a 2022 Emmys FYC panel, moderated by Michael Schneider from Variety. Watch the video Q&A above.

At this point in her career, Scardino has comfortably aligned herself with the Carlock-Fey writing style of stuffing as many zingers as she can into her scripts. Here, she spoke about how “satire has always been… the kind of way that [she feels] comfortable storytelling” and how her experience as an Emmy-winning writer for “The Colbert Report” fostered that mindset. She also mentioned her intent with this series to create “characters who bring out the best in each other” and exist in a “hyperbolic world that sort of points at the truth while making you laugh.”

Pell, who has spent most of her three-decade career writing for programs like “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock,” complimented this series’ “solid gold scripts that are so [chock-full] of jokes” and said “there’s no need” for her to offer any input on how to make her character, Gloria, funnier. After recounting the story of how her real-life collapsed knee replacement became a “Girls5eva” plot device, she expressed admiration and gratitude toward the whole creative team, calling the show “a pinch-me project.”

Bareilles, who has written songs for “Girls5eva” in addition to playing level-headed group member Dawn, referred to the creation of the show’s integral music as a “deeply collaborative process” and said “the music team is just on fire.” She went on to praise this season’s plot for allowing viewers to “get to see each of these characters deepen and… see their relationships deepen with each other.” On the subject of future episodes, she naturally expressed a desire to see the group find more success, teasing, “Imagine them on tour for an entire season.”

Goldsberry spoke of her wishfully glamorous character, Wickie, as “the one that is the most desperately in need of success because she is not successfully invested in anything else.” She then indicated her excitement in being able to explore Wickie’s psyche, saying, “Now that she doesn’t have to be the fuel behind the group… she can start to flirt with the idea of who [she is].” The character’s second-season arc, as Goldsberry put it, is rooted in coming to the realization that “there is actually some beauty and something to learn [outside of] success in the field of recording.”

Philipps, who plays the goodhearted but ditsy Summer, said she relates “deeply to a lot of the things that [these] characters go through” and that the show itself represents the issues she cares about most “wrapped up in a hilarious comedy.” After pointing out the writers’ evident understanding of the female experience in the music industry both now and two decades ago, she cleverly pivoted to using her platform to advocate for women’s rights.

Critics have been particularly kind to the sophomore season of “Girls5eva,” as evidenced by its impressive Rotten Tomatoes score of 94%. Angie Han (The Hollywood Reporter) raves that it “manages to hit all the same highs [as the first] while expanding its range… to make room for earnest self-reflection,” and Saloni Gajjar (The AV Club) writes that the show’s “satirization of the music industry and pop culture ephemera remains as splendid as ever.” Although future seasons have yet to be confirmed, Scardino “would love [to do] many more [because] there’s so many things that we want to… see these characters do.”

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