Tina Fey Looks Back at Problematic ’90s Trends During ‘Girls5Eva’ Tribeca Panel: ‘We All Cosigned That?’
Tina Fey’s newest comedy, “Girls5Eva,” follows a ‘90s girl group reuniting after 20 years to recapture their old magic. Along the way, the group discovers that some of the messages from their songs that were once culturally acceptable, are now very much not.
Fey, who serves as an executive producer on “Girls5Eva,” discussed how the plot line came to mind during a conversation at the Tribeca Festival 2021.
“We’re culturally looking back at stuff that we all took as totally normal, fun and just cool in the ’90s, whether it’s the way David Letterman dismantled Lindsey Lohan or an underage Britney Spears singing ‘Slave 4 U,’” Fey said. “We’re all looking back at those things now and being like, ‘Oh, we all cosigned that? Oh, that’s terrible.’”
Fey sat down with longtime collaborators Meredith Scardino, Robert Carlock and Jeff Richmond on Friday night to talk about the recent premiere of their new comedy series. Busy Philipps, who plays Summer on “Girls5Eva,” moderated the conversation at the AT&T Terrace.
The series is now streaming on Peacock — a medium that Fey believes is better suited for comedy series than broadcast television.
“I definitely think that streaming has turned out to be better for comedy,” Fey said. “Not that we go that hard, but because people are choosing to come to you, you don’t have to make plain rice. You can make something that isn’t maybe for everybody, but it’s delicious.”
Since the series was shot during COVID-19 and the crew couldn’t get access to Dolly Parton, Fey stepped up to play the country music pop star. She related the experience back to those “deeply embarrassing” moments on “Saturday Night Live.”
“There are many times at ‘Saturday Night Live’ where you get asked to do something and you’re like, ‘Wow, this is going to be deeply embarrassing,’” Fey said. “The one that comes to mind from ‘SNL’ was when we had to wear short trench coats and heels and dance behind Bernie Mac in the monologue. It didn’t make air. This felt like a Bernie Mac trench coat moment.”
Scardino, who serves as the showrunner on “Girls5Eva,” hinted at the idea of a second season and pointed out the one aspect of the series that would stay the same.
“I think the spirit of the show about trappy underdog women in their 40s going up against a behemoth and trying to do something hard and a little bit crazy, that will continue,” Scardino said.
Philipps jokingly responded that Summer and her Girls5Eva family were taken by a sex cult. When the NXIVM sex cult case was brought up, Philipps took a jab at “Smallville.” Allison Mack, who played Chloe Sullivan on over 200 episodes of “Smallville,” was indicted in April 2018 for her involvement in the secret NXIVM sex cult, led by Keith Raniere. She pleaded guilty to the charges a year later.
“Oh my God, was she taken by a sex cult?” Philipps proposed. “We gotta work in a sex cult! NXIVM, guys. You guys, I tested for ‘Smallville.’ It could’ve been me. I didn’t fucking get it, Allison Mack got it and now she’s in jail. I’m just saying, life takes you places you didn’t know it was going to take you. I’m grateful for this turn.”