Review: Julie and the Phantoms

Review%3A+Julie+and+the+Phantoms

“Better wake those demons

Just look them in the eye

No reason not to try”

 ~ Julie

Julie and the Phantoms will make you laugh, cry, or want to throw your phone all the way across the room. The Netflix original was directed by the brilliant Kenny Ortega and its first season was released on September 10, 2020.

Ortega is most known for producing High School Musical, Descendants, Newsies, and Hocus Pocus. Julie and the Phantoms centers around the main characters: Charlie Gillespie Luke (Charlie Gillespie), Alex (Owen Patrick Joyner), Reggie (Jeremy Shada) , and Julie (Madison Reyes). Currently there are only 9 episodes available, each about 30 minutes long. Although it may seem more catered toward younger kids, Julie and the Phantoms truly is a comfort show that brings joy and warmth to those who watch. 

What is Julie and Phantoms about?

Hours before their first big concert in 1995, Sunset Curve’s seventeen-year-old band members Luke, Alex, and Reggie die unexpectedly after eating tainted hot dogs.

25 years later, fifteen-year-old Julie Molina lives in Los Angeles with her father and younger brother. For almost a year, the family struggles with the loss of their mother. Julie’s mother had a major influence in her life, and because of this Julie is not able to play music or write lyrics the way she would when her mother was alive, costing her a spot in the Loz Feliz High School music program.

The Molina family is in the midst of packing up the house to move away, to leave all their memories behind, when Julie finds an old Sunset Curve CD in her mother’s music studio. As she hits the play button, the band members reappear as phantoms, almost like they never left. The boys then realize they are right back in the same garage where they practiced in 1995, which now happens to be owned by Julie’s family.

Julie seems to be the only one that is able to see the boys, and they later find out that the band can become visible only when performing with her. As the band grows close with Julie, they encourage her to find her love for music again, and because of her new power, even give her a lead spot in the band. The band becomes loved by many people, but how long do the phantoms have until their time back on Earth is up?

Music:

There are a total of 15 original songs that are played within the show. Most of them are used as a title for an episode.

Preparing this review, we interviewed Amelia Benware, who said, “these songs are relatable, meaningful, as well as catchy.” Her favorite song is “Perfect Harmony,” written in secret by Charlie Gillespie and Madison Reyes. The song was used to show the close relationship that Luke and Julie have throughout the entirety of the show. It’s a great way to show that there are possibilities in having a close relationship that isn’t intimate. You can have a relationship that shows that you care and trust each other, but yet tease each other in a fun best friend like way.

Another WA student who watches “Julie and the Phantoms” is Victoria Tirado. Her favorite song was “Unsaid Emily,” sung by Charlie Gillespie. She had said “it really tugs at your heart strings.” Luke, one of the phantoms, didn’t have a proper goodbye with his mother, Emily. This song captures the love he has for his mother as well as him being sorry for the way he acted. It’s a very emotional point in the show that will have you balling your eyes out.

One last song that has a lot of meaning is “Wake Up,” sung by Madison Reyes. The lyrics of the song are very motivational because the message it conveys is to always pursue the dreams you have in life even when the going gets tough. The other 12 songs do have some sort of message, but they are more the type to bop and dance to. When you have time go listen to the amazing playlist! 

Diversity:

One of the most significant pieces to this show is the wide range of diversity highlighted within the characters. For generations, a majority of shows lack the necessary representation for viewers to feel included and comfortable. Victoria Tirado speaks on this issue by explaining how “she has probably seen at least 5 shows” that have a person of color as a main character and that this observation “is honestly a bit sad.” That being said, she also elaborates the importance of how Julie and the Phantoms counteracts this idea.

Madison Reyes is Puerto Rican, and her role as the strong female lead amplifies the voice of a person of color. In larger scenes, it is also good to note that not one person dominates the other; no matter how much screen time, each is their own individual character.

Later in the show, the viewers also begin to see a relationship form between the main drummer, Alex, and love interest Willie, played by Booboo Stewart. Individuality, freedom of expression, and inclusivity are just a few morals that these characters inspire. By having characters like them on screen, viewers have an even larger outlet of characters to relate to and feel connected with.

Isa Cino, a junior at Worcester Academy, has said that Julie and the Phantoms “features young, talented, smart women of color in leading roles as well as a gay boy” and to have such representation shown in a “natural way is a true gift.” After watching this show, both Isa and Vicky are hopeful for the generations to come because now viewers, especially the younger crowds, have more characters in which they can see themselves in. Julie and the Phantoms may even set a good example for future shows to be more inclusive. 

Why watch Juile and the Phantoms?:

The musical aspect and incredible configuration of the plotline doesn’t confine this show to just one genre. It is layered with humor, drama, and depth for it’s viewers to peel apart on their own. In the same way that the characters feel connected with music, this show connects us more to ourselves. For Victoria, being able to find comfort within the backstories of the three original band members was like Kenny Ortega “held up a mirror” to Luke, Alex, and Reggie and reflected back an image of herself. It is satisfying to idolize the fiction realm of a television show, but even more rewarding to emotionally connect with a character, scene, or song. One thing is for sure, this quick little show sets the bar high. If you have some free time or need a new show recommendation, take our word for it and make sure to check out Julie and the Phantoms. 

While you’re here, listen to this Julie and the Phantoms playlist