It’s a nasty, cold, torrentially pouring February morning—the kind of weather that makes you wonder why anyone chooses to live in New York City. But you’d never know that inside the concert venue Terminal 5, where five normal-size boys wearing the largest sneakers I have ever seen are hitting pop-and-lock choreography.
They introduce themselves as Broyce, Brace, Bryce, Breece, and Braxter—members of the fictional hit group Collab. I ask Meredith Scardino how big their shoes are, as she takes me up to the stage to get a better look. “Like, size 20.” Why? “Oh, this season Collab collabs with Keds.”
It’s the kind of silly, quippy, industry-skewering humor that pervades season two of Peacock’s glorious comedy Girls5eva, created by Scardino. After a triumphant, Emmy-nominated first season, the show—co-executive-produced by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock—returns to Peacock this week for another eight-episode dose of pop-star realness. This time around, Dawn (Sara Bareilles), Summer (Busy Philipps), Gloria (Paula Pell), and the one and only Wickie Roy (Renée Elise Goldsberry) head into #AlbumMode as they continue their quest to reclaim their early-aughts glory. Along the way, they rendezvous with the Property Brothers, WikiFeet, and Joey Sasso from The Circle. But today, it’s all about the music.
Multiple fictional musical acts have graced the stage this morning at Terminal 5, including Collab and a very comfy-looking artist named Cozy Boy. But the priority is to lock in Girls5eva’s final number, written by Bareilles. “It’s Sara’s big contribution to the season,” says producer and composer Jeff Richmond, who composed the music for the Mean Girls musical and has been married to Fey for over 20 years.
“My first draft of the song, I did it and I was like, ‘I’m not sure if it needs to be funnier,’” Bareilles says. Ultimately, she let her fear go. “They love that it’s about their friendships and their connection, and the fact that they’re stronger together. It felt like, ‘Okay, it doesn’t have to be a comedy song. It can just be a sweet pop song that they love to sing.’”
At 2 p.m. the girls arrive in festive red outfits, ready to get to work. Goldsberry, sporting one incredibly long braid, dives directly into the choreo, marking the dance steps with the precision and intensity of a Tony Award–winning Hamilton actor. “Full honesty? They had sent me several tapes of [the dance] to learn the day before. I definitely showed up on that day and was like, ‘So, what is this?’” Goldsberry admits when we chat on the phone weeks later. “I was learning it on the spot.”