If you are a fan of Kenny Ortega, famed filmmaker and choreographer, as well as the literal genius behind Hocus Pocus and High School Musical, then allow me to introduce you to my current obsession.
Julie and the Phantoms may technically be aimed towards younger audiences, but by all things good in this world, a show hasn’t brought me this much wholesome joy since Wizards of Waverly Place. Season one released on Netflix in September 2020, but the show has been gaining more traction in the past few weeks as fans have been pushing Netflix to renew for a second season — and it truly deserves one.
Based on the Brazilian series Julie e os Fantasmas, the Netflix original centers on Julie Molina, a teenage girl struggling to reclaim her passion for music after her mother’s death. Julie’s life turns around completely when she accidentally summons a trio of ghosts by playing a demo CD from their 90’s boy band Sunset Curve. Enter Alex, Luke and Reggie, three absolutely adorable boys with an uncanny ability to still play their music within the living world. Together, the four create a band and learn what it means for music to bring them back to life, literally and figuratively.
I could go on forever about why this show is something I feel like everyone should experience at least once, but for the sake of time, I’ll start with five. So without further ado, here are some reasons you should stream Julie and the Phantoms on Netflix right now.
- Great Music
If there’s one thing that can be expected from anything involving Kenny Ortega, it’s a killer soundtrack, and Julie and the Phantoms one hundred percent delivers. Julie and the Phantoms is more than just actors pretending to play instruments on screen — it’s a real band. All the actors are musicians casted with the intention of — when it’s safe again — creating a band that will progress beyond the show and eventually go on tour. They were directly involved in the music created for the show and have even written their own songs to potentially include in later seasons. The payoff of their work and the chemistry between the members is clearly visible on screen as a result. I’ve had the soundtrack on repeat pretty much every day since I started watching, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
- Amazing Characters
It only takes three minutes for you to fall in love with the characters, and they just keep growing throughout the series. Julie possesses a contagiously unwavering strength of heart, and the boys are just as endearing. Each character is wonderfully and distinctly unique, and the band members aren’t the only members you’ll love.
One thing that really stood out to me was the way the show promoted healthy relationships between these characters as well. Julie’s best friend Flynn openly calls her out on behavior that harms their relationship and Julie’s dad Ray, while not perfect, is a really great dad. Too often in shows with younger audiences, I feel like parental figures are often portrayed as flat characters that function as no more than a comedic side element, and it’s refreshing to see healthy parent-child relationships on-screen that value communication.
It’s really important for young audiences to be able to see themselves in the characters that they watch on TV, and Julie and the Phantoms takes steps to ensure natural and organic representation. Madison Reyes was fifteen when she was cast as Julie, the show’s Puerto Rican lead, and her stage presence is downright awe-inspiring.
Julie and the Phantoms also plays a huge role in normalizing LGBTQ characters with Alex, who is the openly gay drummer in the band. His friends support him and playfully encourage him regarding his crush on a certain someone (no spoilers here!) in the way it seems so normal for straight romances, and it’s really, really nice to see the community portrayed in a way that is so normalized.
- Non-toxic Masculinity
Toxic masculinity? Not the case at all with Julie and the Phantoms. The boys of Sunset Curve surprised me with their openness and vulnerability. For the most part, they are extremely well adjusted to discussing their feelings with one another and others as well. They hug, they cry, they hold hands together and they communicate when they need to open up or if they would prefer space to work things out on their own.
I’m extremely happy to see a show that tells the younger generation that it’s okay and even encouraged to express your feelings and be in touch with your emotions, regardless of your gender.
- Heartfelt Story
Since the show’s target audience is technically children, it’s very easy to dismiss it as just some happy, cute and bubbly show about a girl running around with a ghost band, but this simply isn’t the case.
Julie and the Phantoms deals with heavy subjects such as loss, grief and depression, and it carefully handles the discussion of navigating these difficulties with the moving story of Julie and the boys overcoming their own.
Julie and the Phantoms is a show that has changed my life for the better, and I’m sure it will do the same for you. You can stream it on Netflix, and be sure to tune into the band on Youtube and Spotify once you’re done!