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Peacock is trying to "make it 2011 again" with Girls5eva and Rutherford Falls

  • One of 30 Rock's best jokes comes from a 2011 episode where Jack Donaghy presents NBC's comeback plan in pie-chart form. A yellow wedge reads, “Make it 1997 again through science or magic.” "Here it is 2021," says James Poniewozik, "and NBC Universal’s plan for survival in the streaming age now relies on Peacock, one of the new services festooning your TV app screen like medals on a dictator’s uniform. Its sensibility can be described, in part, as 'Make it 2011 again through science or magic.' Peacock does include original programming. But its most prominent property, and arguably its chief selling point, is The Office, the aughts sitcom and pandemic-TV powerhouse that now offers 'superfan episodes,' beefed up with deleted scenes, to premium-tier subscribers. And within weeks of each other, Peacock added two new sitcoms from the makers of Michael Scott’s former schedule-mates 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation. Girls5eva and Rutherford Falls each feature new voices and timely subjects, but with enough similarities to their predecessors that it feels as if NBC were trying to relive its Thursday night glory days on streaming. Girls5eva, whose eight-episode first season arrives Thursday, is the creation of Meredith Scardino, but its voice is very much like Tina Fey’s 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the latter of which Scardino wrote for. (Fey is an executive producer on Girls5eva.) Like the other shows in the Feyniverse, it has a laser focus on media, a breakneck joke pace and a jagged-edged feminist wit." Poniewozik adds: “Rutherford Falls is about history and who controls it. But it’s also, like Girls5eva, about the allure and pitfalls of nostalgia. I was about to say that this is ironic, coming from two NBC-throwback sitcoms on a streaming platform that has also reanimated Saved by the Bell and Punky Brewster. But really this isn’t irony, just the state of our culture. Our entertainment and our politics are both often salvage jobs, attempts at making this-or-that great again. So for sitcoms, nostalgia cuts two ways: It’s fruitful as a subject, limiting as a stylistic choice. Both of Peacock’s new comedies are reminders that the past is an enchanting place to visit. But would you really want to live there?"

    TOPICS: Girls5eva, Peacock, 30 Rock, The Office (US), Rutherford Falls, Michael Schur, Tina Fey