I don’t remember much of my childhood but I do remember playing with a Barbie-like doll with black and silver hair. I inherited that doll from my sister–the only doll that I had with cool hair before the 90’s new wave of Barbie dolls. I also remember customizing her later, and by that I mean chopping her hair, and dressing her with the coolest doll clothes I had.
At that time, I don’t remember if I realized that that doll wasn’t a Barbie. It didn’t matter. What mattered was that she was so cool. And she had to be: she was actually Jetta, from Jem and the Holograms. My sister is a fan of the show so my taste for it was a matter of time (Jetta was a favorite already).
My sister always talked about Jem and the Holograms but I never got to watch the show until recently, when it was brought (back) to television and Netflix (c. 2012). The show’s first release was from 1985 to 1988. There I was watching it 27 years later… I quite liked it with all its cheesiness, positivity, loop holes, and inconsistencies.
Jem and the Holograms‘ main story line revolves around Jerrica Benton, her alter ego Jem, and her band. Jerrica is the owner of Starlight Music. She also maintains a foster home for girls. To maintain both lifestyles, Jerrica disguises herself (and sometimes she’s completely substituted) as Jem, a persona created by a holographic computer named Synergy. Jerrica can disguise herself at any moment with the help of a pair of magical earrings that send wireless signals to Synergy. Her main purpose is to maintain the foster home with the money she acquires through the band and through the production company. To do that, the band has to confront their rivals: The Misfits (and later The Stingers).
Even though all of the characters are flat, and I still don’t understand how the love triangle between Jem/Jerrica/Rio worked, Jem and the Holograms was a little ahead of its time (race diversity, women empowerment). The lessons to be learned per episode were concise and, most of them, explicit. I imagine it was easy for a child of the 80’s to have a positive perspective of the world with TV shows like Jem, even if they liked the egotistical, greedy, bad-ass side of the story line, The Misfits.
Because, let’s admit it: The Misfits were better. All – the – time. From their song lyrics to the music to the music videos. The Misfits were better.
On March 2015, the Jem and the Holograms franchise was rebooted with a comic written by Kelly Thompson and illustrated by Sophie (Ross) Campbell. My sister has bought all the issues released until today (she just bought the fourth one), and I have read them all. This new version has all the TV show was lacking of. Yay for fixed loop holes! I have not been this satisfied with a reboot in a long time. (And that is an outrageous opinion coming from me.)
Jem and the Holograms’ comic has race/gender/sexual orientation/body type diversity. Thompson and Campbell took the great characters and transformed them into amazing, believable ones. Every character has its own issues and background story, making them alive instead of just being companions of Jem/Jerrica and Pizzazz.
I used to dislike Kimber so much but now she’s one of my favorites.
Also: the illustrations are b e a u t i f u l! Including references to My Little Pony and Wet Moon.
If I liked Jetta when I was a child, without having seen the TV series, now I like her more.
I will forever be lusting after that black and white polka dot and stripes outfit.
If you haven’t read it already, do yourself a favor and get a copy of the comic!