This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
- Bennifer, masters of their craft.
- Girls5eva is extremely my jam.
- Fat Will Smith has already disappointed us.
- Already dreading the Elon Musk SNL.
- The best magazine cover of the week.
When God made it so that his creations could hear, I truly believe it was because he knew the gift that was in store, the greatest one he could give to us and to the entire concept of sound: Pop girl groups.
Three-to-five thinly voiced women in coordinated outfits barely harmonizing to an absolute banger of a hook is the greatest pleasure we have in life. And so what a blessing it was to hear that Tina Fey would be producing a comedy series about a former pop girl group’s second chance at fame, and the miracle of all miracles for it to be so blissfully, ridiculously funny.
Girls5eva, which debuted this week on Peacock, is the rare case of something you look forward to living up to your expectations of it.
A cast that slays to the precise interests of a very specific demographic (gay, pop-culture obsessed millennials)—in this case, Sara Bareilles, Busy Philipps, Paula Pell, and Hamilton star Renee Elise Goldsberry— thrives in the Tina Feyland of rapid-fire one-liners soaked in utterly random entertainment references, with original music that perfectly threads the Y2K pop vibe while also satirizing it.
(If you don’t dust off your Dream CD and start dancing to “He Loves U Not” after bingeing the show, did you actually appreciate it?)
In this age of #TooMuchTV and new streaming services sprouting up every time I blink my eyes, it’s also a case when the sheer number of platforms seems like a great thing. Wonderful as it is, I’m not sure Girls5eva would have been picked up by a traditional network. (I’m still haunted by NBC’s decision to pass on a comedy pilot produced by Tina Fey starring Busy Philipps and Casey Wilson in 2017.)
The series centers on the members of former girl group Girls5eva (“We’re gonna be famous five-ever / Because forever’s too short”), whose fame burned fast and bright 20 years ago. Now in their forties and dejected about how their lives turned out, they unexpectedly reunite after a rapper uses their old song as a hook. They decide to give another go at it, battling ageism, sexism, and their own neuroses as they try to claw their way back to the pinnacle of girl group success: Performing at Jingle Ball.
The jokes are a riot. Goldsberry, playing the diva, owns a transparent grand piano she named Ghislaine. “I named it 20 years ago. It was a pretty name then, it’s a pretty name now. I’m not changing it.” At one point, Fey cameos in big-hair, big-boob drag to play a twisted Dolly Parton hallucination. There is a plot about Bareilles’ character fearing that her only-child son will grow up to be a “New York Lonely Boy” whose best friend is his doorman; it is one of my favorite comedy bits of the year.
Whatever energy it was that made Ted Lasso such perfect escapism for the most traumatic part of the pandemic—a nice, buttery biscuit delivered on the daily, a pleasant and reasonably handsome man with the rare mustache that works, the idea of working hard to unite and accomplish a goal—Girls5eva, with its sprint through zaniness and invigorating message about getting yourself back out there even if it might be scary, might be the comedy series to capture our transition back into a celebratory world.
Mark Wahlberg and Will Smith are Fat Now?
In headline-making news, Mark Wahlberg gained 20 pounds in three weeks. And, oh boy, he’s on his way to packing on about 10 more. Marky Mark, whose abs each hold their own very special place in pop iconography, has been consuming eight meals and roughly 7,000 calories a day. Sounds like my pandemic diet! Ay-o!
Of course, this is all just for a role and, as with everything to do with eating and body shape in Hollywood, sounds like absolute, unnecessary torture. His personal chef detailed the eating schedule to E! News, and it involves waking up at 3 am to be force fed his first meal, consuming only clean and natural foods, and eating about 12 eggs a day. Some real Gaston shit.
This comes on the heels of Will Smith going viral for an Instagram photo of himself with what, for him, is an uncharacteristic paunch but for the rest of us would be an aspirational figure at age 52. It was captioned, “I’m gonna be real wit yall - I’m in the worst shape of my life.” For all of the problematic body-image messaging, it was a hoot to see the photo with the candid, self-effacing caption. But, ah, how quickly we all forget: Nothing in Hollywood is genuinely good.
Two days after posting the photo, Smith announced a new YouTube series that would track his hard journey to getting fit again. Which is coincidentally the same idea for a project I have had in production for the last 12 years and my lawyers WILL be in touch, Mr. Smith.
But seriously, Smith’s post, beyond damning what is a pretty standard body shape, is no longer even fun. It was timed as a stunt to promote this series.
Kyndall Cunningham wrote a great column about the cynicism and the dangers of all this in The Daily Beast this week that you should definitely read. Especially if you’re like me, a person who can’t stand the celebrity body, diet, and exercise fascination we have as a culture but who also will never stop being fascinated with celebrity body, diet, and exercise.
I get it. I buy a Men’s Health magazine, study the cover star’s workout regimen with the rigor of Elle Woods about to take the LSAT, do the exercises listed in it exactly once, and then spend the next two weeks posing in the mirror wondering when my abs are going to show up. They aren’t ever going to, because, in addition to discipline, I don’t have the one thing celebrities do that I truly believe is the secret to their amazing body transformations: Money.
Elon Musk on SNL! I’m Already Exhausted!
Elon Musk is hosting Saturday Night Live this week, which is so goddamn stupid.
In deleted tweets, a few cast members seemed to quietly rebel against the idea of a union-busting, COVID conspiracy-spreading, boorish billionaire being given the comedy platform. A questionable rumor circulated that cast members “won’t be forced to appear” on the show. Co-head writer Michael Che said he’s “excited” for Musk to host. It’s been a whole thing.
Anyway, Musk tweeted that he was “throwing out some skit ideas for SNL” and asked his followers, “What should I do?” It is my sincerest and deepest hope, wish, and prayer that the show exclusively airs sketches that were pitched by Musk, exactly how he dictated them, with no edits.
Feast Your Eyes on Michaela Coel
If you need me over the next few days, I’ll be busy staring at this Variety cover of I May Destroy You’s Michaela Coel, shedding a single tear on an endless loop until my body is dehydrated.
Hacks: The Jean Smartaissance has arrived and it is GOOD. (Thurs. on HBO Max)
Ziwe: A daring late-night show chock full of truly iconic guests. (Sun. on Showtime)
Together Together: We as a nation must not rest until Patti Harrison is an A-list star. (Tues. on VOD)
The Hills: New Beginnings: Can we just send this drippy reboot to Paris? (Wed. on MTV)