‘Girls5Eva’ Finds Joy and Harmony in ‘The Medium Time’

For three seasons, first on Peacock and then on Netflix, the titular band in “Girls5Eva” has relentlessly pursued the comeback success that perhaps only they think they deserve. And over the course of Season 3, all four members of the group find themselves wrestling with what the pursuit of success (and the very idea of success itself) means in both the practical and psychological sense.

That’s why, when their big comeback gig at Radio City Music Hall on Thanksgiving Day ends up with just friends and family — and Richard Kind — in the audience, they’re happy to embrace the moment and sing a song about shifting goals: “The Medium Time.”

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Written by Sara Bareilles (who also plays the songwriting member of the quartet, Dawn), “The Medium Time” is an honest ode to finding contentment at the level of, well, character actor Richard Kind, who tells Dawn to pursue just enough success to keep working, but not so much that you get bothered in line for a bagel.

“I wrote ‘The Medium Time’ kind of quickly, and I felt nervous about that ’cause I was like, ‘Oh, it’s not that funny. Is it supposed to be funny?'” Bareilles told IndieWire in an interview. “And I sent it to Meredith [Scardino, the series’ creator]. And she’s like, ‘Well, I’m crying in a shoe store.'”

The lyrics will resonate with anyone who ever achieved a goal only to find it somehow disappointing: “Good things come slow / Not too high, not too low / We’re the medium time.” And for Dawn, Wickie (Renée Elise Goldsberry), Summer (Busy Philipps), and Gloria (Paula Pell), there’s nothing they need to hear and sing more in that moment, which, in true “Girls5Eva” fashion, finds them simultaneously at the peak (playing Radio City Music Hall!) and the nadir (to… a handful of people) of their careers.

“I think for these very ambitious women, that is such a helpful piece of wisdom to tap into: That you can carry ambition and want to continue to grow and evolve but also take stock of what you have and what’s around you and be really grateful and find joy in that,” Bareilles said. “And I just think that’s a great life lesson, too. Like, how punk rock to actually prioritize your joy. We get so fixated on the growing of the brand that you’re not even working from a place of connection to what you really want and or what’s really resonating.”

And though Bareilles wrote the song quickly, the initial concept took more time to process. “I had been a little stumped by it,” she said. “I was like, ‘The medium time. It doesn’t feel like a phrase that sings easily to me, the medium time.’ But then once it landed in that sort of soulful, waltz-y place, it was like, let’s just make this a stacked harmony, kind of simple idea.”

That simplicity extended to the staging, which finds the group on the massive Radio City Music Hall stage and singing mostly to one another. “It’s nice to see these women stand around a piano and look at each other, not only as characters but as actresses who have become such close friends,” Bareilles said. “Even from the meta perspective, like, ‘Here we are making this third season. Getting a second chance.'”

As Bareilles pointed out with a laugh, the meta extended to more than just “Girls5Eva” getting picked up by Netflix from Peacock for a second life. “We are so Girls5Eva,” she said. “When Girls5Eva was on the Thanksgiving Day parade, our float hit a golf cart, and the sign fell off. So when we would turn the corner and come around, the crowd would be like, ‘Who?’ We were watching it happen in real time. We are embedded in the karma of this show. When we did our premiere this season, the wind was blowing so hard, Tina Fey was like, ‘Well, I couldn’t hear anything from the microphones.’ We were singing our asses off, and nobody could hear us. I mean, you can’t make this shit up.”

If “Girls5Eva” might seem destined to never find the enormous audience the show so richly deserves, then that might be fine. But let’s get a few more seasons to celebrate the middle time while we can.

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