Thursday, May 19, 2022

REVIEW: 'Girls5Eva' - Gloria Believes a Conspiracy About Ashley Instead of Processing Her Grief in 'Leave a Message If You Love Me'

Peacock's Girls5Eva - Episode 2.05 "Leave a Message If You Love Me"

Gloria becomes obsessed with a mysterious musician. Dawn gets stuck in a plagiarism loop. Summer denies having visited the "Med" part of her MedSpa.

"Leave a Message If You Love Me" was written by Matt Whitaker and directed by Linda Mendoza

Girls5Eva received their name from the number of people in the group. That then required a lot of number puns in their songs. It's been funny to watch especially with the title sequence. It makes no sense yet it holds resonance for the core characters. They wish to revive their careers. They aspire to provide the nostalgia that was once so prominent in their fans twenty years ago. However, they are no longer the same woman who once performed together. Plus, they are dealing with the loss of one of their own. Ashley died in a tragic infinity pool accident years ago. The rest of the group honored her with a bench. That was all they could do. It wasn't until they reunited that they could start talking about her again. In fact, Gloria buys into the conspiracy that Ashley is still alive. Her death was faked. It may solely be informed by the true crime podcasts she is constantly watching. It could actually be true as well. The comic tone of the series makes it a distinct possibility. As such, it's fun to play along with Gloria and Wickie as they seek to uncover the true identity of a mystery performer in the building. They are personally incentivized to do so. They have all their pent-up emotions projected onto this situation. This appears as the only way to process them. Their obsession dictates their actions. That's especially true with Gloria. However, the other members of the group have deflected from their feelings as well. No one wants to process this loss. Instead, they want the fun of having Ashley come back as a hologram. That technology is readily available to them. As such, they don't ever have to truly say goodbye. And yet, that's the reality they must face. Their friend died. She was part of this group. Her life is tangled up in their legacy. Four performers now make up Girls5Eva. They aspire for greatness in order to honor Ashley. But it's also easier to believe in a conspiracy than mourn the loss. Gloria is wrong. T.K. isn't Gloria in disguise. She's a total stranger. She's a singer who doesn't want her identity to be in the public eye. She wants the anonymity of life while still getting to play around as a celebrity. She can be what anyone wants her to be. Of course, that's exhausting and tiring as well. So many expectations are put onto her identity. It's built up as a secret that must be uncovered. The truth must be known. It's not some shocking revelation that will dramatically shake up the entire world. It's simply a way for people to avoid dealing with their feelings. They refuse to be honest with themselves and decide to obsess over a celebrity instead. T.K. plays into the mystery to a certain extent. It's also her presentation to the world in a way that makes her feel confident. So many simply take that and twist it around to their own desires.

All of this makes it an absolute celebration when the group cracks the love song they want on their album. It can be a tribute to Ashley. Her life can forever be immortalized in this way. The group no longer has to individually call her phone just to hear her voice or hope she'll one day answer again. Her love radiated in everything she did. She died at a young age. She deserves the success coming for the group as they seek stardom once more. But again, it's all about the personal resonance this action carries for the characters. Dawn freaks out because she fears she is stealing from popular songs and phrases already produced. It's difficult to come up with new and creative song ideas. Dawn faces that pressure. She is running against the clock. The label expects a lot from the group. They have a fast-approaching deadline. None of them can afford to be distracted. They inevitably are though. Plus, they feel the pressure to put on a good face instead of admitting to what they've done. No one wants to talk about what Ashley's absence means. Meanwhile, Summer wants to deny that she's had any plastic surgery. She doesn't want to admit that she yearns for a beauty standard that is entirely created and unobtainable for anyone naturally. She needs to indulge in this behavior even though it has no bearing on the success of the group. She continues to be there for Dawn. She wants the songwriter to have the freedom to get the job done. She has already created many songs. They will be featured on the album. At this point, the quantity may be more important than the quality. However, the group wants this album to be special. It will showcase who they are in this new stage of their careers. Their lives are dramatically different than before. They are the ones setting the terms for their success. They are no longer controlled by Larry. He isn't the greedy manager exploiting every opportunity given to them. Even then, he's still constantly around looking for ways to get back in. He offers doubts about the group's ability to do what they want to do. They haven't earned it or no one wants to see it. That couldn't be further from the truth. These women are champions of their own stories. Plus, they have the necessary perspective to make fun of their lives and love each other regardless. A great song can come from anywhere. It just needs to come from a place of honesty. Dawn struggles to write. And then, Gloria and Wickie walk in with the piece of catharsis they all need. Performing it in the studio is suddenly effortless and allows all the characters to feel even more fully-realized than they already are. That's enriching while maintaining the strong comedic edge along the way.