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In the second season of Peacock’s Girls5eva, the eponymous girl group have bigger plans for their reunited musical act: a new album. Now all in on finally achieving the superstardom they failed to capture in their youth, the foursome — Sara Bareilles’ Dawn, Renée Elise Goldsberry’s Wickie, Busy Philipps’ Summer and Paula Pell’s Gloria — go into “album mode” with fresh aspirations (or, possibly, delusions) of fame and fortune.
The potential of a new Girls5eva album was also an exciting prospect for the show’s creator and showrunner, Meredith Scardino. “We were trying to do the math,” she recalls of mapping out the season in the writers room. “What scale of album could they pull off?” The group’s professional limitations provided a comic premise: The band begins the second season by signing to Property Records, owned by Drew and Jonathan Scott of Property Brothers fame. (Says the label’s eager Gen Z exec: “Rihanna’s getting into the mattress space, Reese is doing motorcycles, Bobby Flay launched a line of eyebrow pencils for redheaded boys … Everyone’s doing whatever the fuck they want, so why not the Property Brothers?”) The medium-size break comes with a catch: The women have to write and record the album in six weeks, throwing songwriter Dawn into immediate distress as she attempts to churn out music and lyrics.
Art imitated life as Scardino and the writing team began thinking of what the group’s songs would be about. There’s a fiery diss track in which Girls5eva dump their lecherous manager, Larry Plumb. Another standout is “BPE,” an empowering ballad in which the ladies boast of their “big pussy energy.” Scardino says the latter almost made it into Girls5eva‘s first season, which ended with the foursome performing the Bareilles-composed “4 Stars” at the Jingle Ball. “When they’re doing their own album, they can sing ‘BPE,’ ” Scardino recalls thinking during the debut season. “I always have little things I want to do, but I like to keep it loose enough that I don’t close the door to great ideas from the writers room or odd things that come across our plate.”
A certain looseness and go-with-the-flow attitude was necessary for filming the second season. While season one was shot during the first year of the pandemic — pre-vaccine, when face shields and masks were seen on set — the latest was shot amid the omicron wave, with the prospect of breakthrough infections looming over the production. “Our call sheets were really just suggestions,” Scardino says with a laugh, noting that prepping and shooting two episodes at a time brought a “nimbleness” to production. “I was always like, ‘I’m not going to let the hurdles that come at us be an excuse for not being able to pull it off,’ ” Scardino adds. “Our crew was so awesome, and everybody was on the same page. It created a fun, SNL-like energy — there was a lot of excitement in the air.”
Production designer Mylene Santos was eager to begin season two, having previously served as the show’s art director. “I was really excited to start designing the recording studio,” she tells THR, noting that her research into the design of acoustics-enhancing spaces allowed her to play with angles and textures. The modern and sleek Property Records office featured big blocks of glass covered with colored gel, which disguised the art department’s office in an adjoining room. The office’s uplifting and vibrant decor was inspired by Santos’ research into startup companies’ office spaces. “The realer a location looks makes it truer and more believable, which offsets the absurd humor,” she says.
Costume designer Matthew Hemesath says he was a big fan of the show before signing on for the second season. “Of course Wickie was the most exciting for me, and also the most daunting,” he says. “How do you walk that line between fabulous and tragedy?”
For the Girls5eva member who is the least grounded in reality, Goldsberry’s character gave Hemesath a lot of room to play with fashion highs and lows: “The idea is that she’s got a collection of some expensive things left over from her pop star days, mixed in with some discount-store looks.” For one of Wickie’s looks, he paired a plaid Comme des Garçons jacket with a $5 turtleneck sourced from a thrift store. “It’s fun to see what Matthew and his team come up with, because it’s really over-the-top,” says Scardino, who recalls first seeing Goldsberry in an off-the-shoulder red top paired with denim chaps. “Sometimes I’d think, ‘Is this really what Wickie would be wearing in the morning?’ But she sees everything as an opportunity to show the world her greatness.”
Hemesath says current trends veer toward “neutrals, earth tones, sad pastels and shapeless garments,” which do not fit the show’s tone. “I want true colors and happiness,” he says, adding that he often finds garments from online retailers like The RealReal. “We’re reusing things that are already out there, which fits the budget and the show. Our industry creates a lot of waste, so repeating garments is great for both the characters and our planet.”
This story first appeared in a June stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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