Just a few weeks after the documentary film The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears premiered on FX and became a cultural talking point, audiences were given details about two other projects that tackle the toxicity and harmfulness of the music industry.
The first, a somber entry, is Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil. Directed by Michael D. Ratner (Justin Bieber: Seasons), this four-part documentary series looks at the superstar musician’s rise, struggles with addiction, and her history of personal trauma.
The second is fictional comedy Girls5Eva, created by Meredith Scardino and set to premiere on streaming service Peacock.
Both series had panels on February 17 as part of their respective networks’ winter Television Critics Association press day.
Sick of the rumors and the tabloids, musician Demi Lovato told journalists during a panel for her upcoming YouTube docu-series, Dancing with the Devil that she wants to “set the record straight” about what led to her 2018 overdose — and the ramifications from it.
In the docuseries, she discusses that she had three strokes and a heart attack after the 2018 incident.
“Unfortunately, I was left with brain damage and I still deal with the effects of that today. I don’t drive a car because I have blind spots in my vision,” she said during the panel. “I also, for a long time, had a really hard time reading … it was a big deal when I was able to read out of a book, which was two months later because my vision was so blurry. I dealt with a lot of the repercussions and I feel like they, kind of, are still there to remind me of what could happen if I ever get into a dark place again. And I’m grateful for those reminders. I’m so grateful that I was someone that didn’t have to do a lot of rehabbing. The rehabbing came on the emotional side and the therapeutic side internally.”
Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil premieres March 23 on YouTube.
Girls5Eva is a musical comedy about four women who were members of a 1990s girl group. Created by Meredith Scardino, it will have plenty of catchy musical numbers. But like fellow executive producers Tina Fey, Robert Carlock and Jeff Richmond’s Netflix series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, all the fun and glitter will mask something much more serious.
“I wanted to write a show about women in my age group and be able to talk about all the things that you go through as being a woman in your forties,” Scardino said during the Peacock show’s TCA press panel, which included stars Sara Bareilles, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Paula Pell, and Busy Philipps who play the now (more) adult members of an girl group that was hot in the 1990s.
There is also the subject of owning your narrative.
“As young popstars, Girls5Eva had no control over what they sang, wore or did,” said Philipps, a professed fan of real-life girl group legends, Spice Girls. “Now they’re in a different place. How do you take ownership of your own story and rewrite it?”
Girls5Eva will premiere soon on Peacock.
Peacock’s revival of Punky Brewster — or as star Soleil Moon Frye called it during the show’s TCA panel, “a continuation” — premieres February 25 on Peacock. Like the original from the 1980s, it is a multi-camera comedy about the importance of family (however that word may be defined). But, also like the original, it gets into some heavy topics. The new version introduces Izzy (Quinn Copeland), a foster child who — like Punky — was abandoned by her mother.
“The original Punky Brewster dealt with so many real issues and for us creatively, to keep that authenticity was absolutely pivotal and important to all of us involved,” Frye said. “And so the original Punky had humor and laughter. And you also were dealing with pain. And life is messy and we go through rollercoasters of emotions. And so, to continue that honesty was incredibly important to everyone.”
No clowning around: Peacock is entering the true-crime docuseries space with John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise. From Amanda Knox producer Rod Blackhurst, the six-part program will include interviews with the convicted serial killer from prison. All episodes arrive March 25 on Peacock.
Other unscripted programs heading to Peacock include a docu-series about Michael Phelps, a revival of The Real Housewives of Miami, and the Andy Cohen–hosted dating series Ex-Rated, which will allow former couples to explain why and how things went wrong.
Peacock has also ordered the a comedy series starring Craig Robinson and from Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-creator Dan Goor and executive producer Luke Del Tredici. The logline promises that it will be a story of “class, capitalism and one man’s quest to achieve the American dream. And also about hunting really big snakes.”
And the streaming service has given a series order to the Lorne Michaels–executive produced series Bust Down. According to the press release, Chris Redd, Sam Jay, Langston Kerman, and Jak Knight star as “four casino employees in a dead-end job in middle America attempt to find self-worth in their bad ideas.” Six episodes have been ordered.