2015 marks the 30th anniversary of Jem, the beloved 80s cartoon series. Jem and the Holograms have never been bigger, as 2015 will also see the release of a live action film based on the show, a new comic book series published by IDW, and a continuing line of collectible fashion dolls from Integrity Toys. To celebrate the original series, WWAC is watching it from the very beginning. It’s showtime, Synergy!
Written by Christy Marx
Truly outrageous! “The Beginning” introduces us to Jerrica Benton, who inherits the mysterious supercomputer Synergy after her father’s death. With the help of Synergy’s holograms, Jerrica creates a new alter-ego, the pink-haired singer Jem, to win back her father’s record company from unscrupulous businessman Eric Raymond. Jem has her bandmates the Holograms on her side, but are they a match for Eric’s wild punk band, The Misfits? (No, not those Misfits.)
I was a big Jem fan as a kid, and discovered it shortly after its original run. I dressed up as Jem for Halloween, rented those clunky VHS tapes from Video Den, and owned a precious few of the original Hasbro dolls (which I’ve kept to this day–suck it, eBay). Jem was a much-needed dose of Girl Power when most cartoons on the air–Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Voltron, etc–featured one or two token female characters at best. As a sharp contrast, Jem is an adventure show that not only had a female lead, but was entirely driven by women and their relationships with each other, whether it’s the friendships between the Holograms or their rivalry with the Misfits. Jerrica/Jem could do it all: she was a pop superstar, owned her own record company, and ran a home for foster girls. Given her holographic secret identity, it isn’t much of a stretch to call Jem a superhero (with Synergy’s Drive-In as her Batcave).
Ah, but now for the eternal question: were the Misfits’ songs better? Okay, I love Britta Phillips singing as Jem, but I have to give it to the Misfits. They have an amazing introduction in this episode, riding into a room on motorcycles shaped like guitars, and “Outta My Way” tells you everything you need to know about Pizzazz, Roxy, and Stormer in 90 seconds. The Misfits sure as hell ain’t role models, but their “fuck you, we do what we want” attitudes aren’t without their own dark brand of Girl Power. And they’re catchy.
I watched this with my six year old who was immediately taken in by Eric Raymond’s funeral-side charm. But once she understood that he was really not a nice person, I was continually reprimanded for daring to sing along to the Misfits songs, even though, as Kayleigh pointed out, their songs ARE better. But nothing tops Synergy. Seeing her brought back all the feels and I started singing “She’s Got the Power” in her honour. Important question we asked ourselves during this episode: How many holograms does it take to change a light bulb? I appreciate Rio’s offer to spend the night on the couch (what a gentleman!) in case of intruders (foreshadowing!), but did you see how the ladies were not one bit frightened of that nasty burglar? Fire on the other hand…
I have not watched this show in many a year, and, apparently, I remembered NOTHING about it. It was like watching it for the first time, and boy was it an adventure. First off, that opening number is too much. I mean, utter perfection, but there’s like a tiny battle of the bands in the intro. Then the plot of the entire episode just skipped, trotted, and leaped onward, dragging the audience with it. This is not to say I wasn’t enjoying myself. I definitely was intensely glued to my laptop screen, thanking Netflix for this opportunity. I do have to agree with Wendy and Kayleigh though, the Misfits are so much better. Actual rock and roll next to the Holograms’ sugar and spice. My major takeaway from the first episode was that lots of money will always win out over raw talent.
I mean I get character motivation probably wasn’t a concern of little Ginnis, but why the immediate hate towards The Misfits? They drive awesome bikes, rock rad hair and make-up, and sing awesome songs. It’s fun to see female leads doing the sort of action things usually reserved for male characters, like car chases. Jerrica is working on the plumbing at one point, Shana and Aja even throw up their fists when the burglar is in the house. I haven’t watched this in years, but it pretty much fits everything that I loved as a child: obnoxiously bright colors and gaudiness.
Written by Christy Marx
I love the little music video interludes in the show. They’re the perfect little glimpses into the characters’ dreams and desires, completely untethered to reality. Jem and Rio are on a flying carpet! Jem and Rio are riding unicorns! It’s pure pink bubblegum and it’s amazing.
In case you didn’t get that Eric Raymond is evil, he not only sends a goon to burn down an orphanage, but he then sends the same goon to plant a bomb in their new digs. Who knew the record business was so cutthroat? If you’re keeping track, the Misfits have already stolen a van, a bulldozer, and, amazingly, a cruise ship. And this is episode two, you guys.
UNICORNS AND RAINBOWS! But, like, did anyone else find a creepy connotation when the director said to Shana that they would work out the money issue for their video…after he touched her face and called her beautiful? I like how The Misfits frequently decided to take over heavy machinery or you know boats for their dastardly deeds.
You can learn a lot about a person based on the pajamas they wear. I felt a really strong connection with Jerrica here because I hate wearing pants to bed.
My daughter’s indoctrination continues. She is working on memorizing the theme song. But I also caught her singing “Making Mischief.” She did say something about wanting to punch Eric, Zipper, and the Misfits though, so there’s still hope for her virtue. And she refused to let that one foster kid off the hook for stealing money.
Wendy, I am also memorizing it, but on accident. I would not call it catchy, more like a drilling earwig.
I continue to much prefer the Misfits. Maybe I’m going through a rebellious stage of my life or something. This is my haircut and now I know what my next Quick Change post should be: this amazing blue dress, pink glove, leggings combo.
Ginnis, I also don’t remember that, but most of this show seems to filter through me in a confusion-induced blur. But now I do have a desire for yachting.
Al, I approve of your plans. I foresee a mohawk in my future. I don’t know if I’m ready for an electric blue mohawk, but I have to start somewhere.