I am not the target audience for Julie and the Phantoms. You are probably not the target audience either….but perhaps you’re looking for something that connects with the tween in your heart. Or maybe you’re looking at the state of the world and thinking, I want to watch something that makes me feel warm and hopeful. Great, in that case may I direct your attention to Netflix’s Julie and the Phantoms.
Here are five reasons to watch this delightful show!
#1 The concept
The premise is wild, and silly and I have questions, but I also love it. It’s actually based on Julie e os fantasmas, a Brazilian show and I would like to thank Brazil for the gift that is Julie and the Phantoms. Let me break it down for you.
Julie and The Phantoms tells the story of Julie Molina, a 15-year-old girl who lost her mom a year ago. Julie is a talented musician who hasn’t been able to play music since her mother’s passing. Everything changes when she plays an old CD she finds in her mom’s music studio and the ghosts of the members of a boy band who died in 1995 appear in front of her. Yes, it’s a ghost boy band!
Julie’s the only one who can see them. Except when they play music with Julie, at which point they become visible (and audible) to everyone. And so….Julie and the Phantoms is born! Julie rediscovers her love for music and the boys get a second chance at a music career.
#2 Sunset Curve
I love my ghost boy band!
The ghost band is Sunset Curve and they died on the eve of their biggest concert at the Orpheum. Cause of death: some bad hot dogs. The (dead) members of Sunset Curve are: frontman Luke, who I firmly believe is allergic to sleeves, funny bassist Reggie and sensitive drummer Alex. The boys are always so supportive and clearly love each other (and Julie!).
Speaking of love, they might be ghosts, but they’re also teenagers so they make time for a little romance. Julie and Luke definitely have a connection and engage in some flirting. The true highlight is the blossoming queer romance between Alex and Willie, a skater ghost he befriends who is full of advice on how to navigate being a ghost. They are very cute!
#3 So charming!
With Julie and the Phantoms, it seems like Netflix heard about Disney+ and said: challenge accepted. Julie and the Phantoms in fact, feels very Disney channel in tone and gives me High School Musical vibes. This isn’t a surprise once you find out Kenny Ortega is the director and executive producer. Kenny Ortega has never let me down.
Julie and the Phantoms is certainly cheesy and cloying but I’d say that’s part of its appeal. It’s earnest in the best possible way. Ultimately it’s a show about love. Love of music. Love of family, which we see in Julie’s supportive family and in the found family Alex, Luke and Reggie created for themselves.
There is also surprising depth as the season goes on. The penultimate episode “Unsaid Emily” might actually make you tear-up. Julie and the Phantoms acknowledges the deep grief that Julie and her family are still dealing with after the loss of their mom. While the boys have to deal with the fact that well, they died 25 years and the world has moved on without them. For Julie and her phantoms music is how they deal with their emotional turmoils, it’s what brings them together and helps them grow.
# 4 The cast
The cast of Julie and the Phantoms is insanely talented! Madison Reyes who plays Julie is amazing. She is only 16-years-old and this is her first role, but she leaves a lasting impression.
Madison is of Puerto Rican descent and it’s refreshing to see such great Latinx representation in Julie and her family. The diverse cast also includes Black actress Jadah Marie as Julie’s loyal best friend Flynn. The friendship between these two is a joy to watch.
Charlie Gillespie, Jeremy Shada, and Owen Patrick Joyner as Luke, Reggie and Alex are also great. Reggie probably gets the least to do during the first season, but he gets some of the funniest moments in the show.
They’re also all talented musicians which brings me to my final reason…
#5 The music!
Julie and the Phantoms is full of bops! The songs are legit good. The musical numbers are catchy and fun. The chemistry between the cast makes it a delight to watch them perform. There are also some bigger, splashier numbers with Cheyenne Jackson, that are real showstoppers. Although my preference is definitely the pop anthems.
The actors who make up the band in Julie and the Phantoms are all actual musicians who perform and play their own instruments. While they didn’t write the songs in the first season, they’ve since written songs that could be part of a potential season two. Just one of the many reasons I’m really hoping there is a second season for Julie and the Phantoms!
Season 1 of Julie and the Phantoms in available on Netflix right now!