Julie and the Phantoms: A ghostly-spectacle with a lot of heart and songs

by Matthew Escosia
SEA Wave Julie and the Phantoms
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By: Carl Cuevas

 

Kenny Ortega, the King of Modern Family Musicals is back and gives Netflix a strong entry into the musical series genres with the quite binge-able Julie and the Phantoms which premiered on the streaming platform on September 10, 2020. Here is SEA Wave’s High Five full season review!

SEA Wave Julie and the Phantoms Based on a Brazilian TV show of the same name, the series follows Julie, played by Madison Reyes on her acting debut, who along with her family is going through a recent family tragedy: the death of her mother. As part of handling the grief, it’s shown that there has been strains on her relationship with her dad, younger brother and aunt, but her love for music has diminished as this was one of the strong bonds she has shared with her mom. However, as she was cleaning out her mother’s music studio, she accidentally sets the ghostly spirits of three young men (Charlie Gillespie as lead singer Luke, Owen Joyner as soft-hearted drummer Alex, and Adventure Time’s Jeremy Shada as dopey guitarist Reggie) who are members of the band, Sunset Curve.

As Julie navigates her high school life and family relationships, she rediscovers her love of music as she is able to perform new music with her ghostly friends as it is revealed others can see her spectral band members during musical performances, thus forming the eponymous band, Julie and the Phantoms. With a little callback to a similar 80s show, Julie explains the spectacle behind her bandmembers who disappear after the performances as digital performers via hologram.

SEA Wave Julie and the Phantoms

This show can sometimes get borderline cheesy with some dialogue choices and acting plus some gratuitous musical numbers, but what’s great about the show is how it handles the serious aspects of the show: grief. Fights within Julie’s family is shown, but it comes from a place of love and grief. There is also a nice episode in which gives us a glimpse of the impact of one of the Sunset Curve member’s death to his family which gives one of the best scenes in the season.

The show also features two villains: high school mean girl, Carrie (Savannah Lee May) and the mysterious ghostly entrepreneur, Caleb (Cheyenne Jackson). Carrie follows the usual high school Queen Bee archetype and somewhat resembles another of Ortega’s antagonist, High School Musical’s Sharpay Evans (although for the record I still believe HSM’s true antagonists are Troy and Gabriella). As previous friends, the series doesn’t deep-dive on her relationship with Julie so hopefully we’ll get to see more in the next seasons. Caleb, on the other hand, the big bad of the show has set the boys on a mission: to either perish via a curse he has beset the boys and “fade away to the unknown” or join his company as the in-house band of Caleb’s supernatural night club. Do the boys take the offer or take their fates on their own hands? That’s what we’ll find out throughout the season.

As a musical series, it’s a sin to not talk about the music featured on the song. The show features all new music and performed by the cast members. Although not clear on the soundtrack, but all of the members of Julie and the Phantoms are musicians in real life too. The official soundtrack is out on Spotify and other music streaming services, and happy to report that most of the songs are catchy and good, but I suggest to go through the series first to get some context and avoid any spoilers that the songs might have.

Verdict: Out of 5 waves, I’m giving it a 4!

With 9 episodes, Netflix is giving a good contender to the family musical genre against Disney with Julie and the Phantoms. With a feel-good story and catchy musical numbers, this is an easy binge over one day or one weekend. There’s no word yet on Season 2, but the season sets enough elements in the story for the next season.

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