The Netflix original series Julie and the Phantoms, included everything that I could have ever wanted in a TV show. JATP was produced by High School Musical‘s very own Kenny Ortega, had a fun and refreshing set-up, and included some great musical numbers in each of the show’s nine episodes. Needless to say, when it was recently announced that the show would not be getting a second season, I was heartbroken. So I decided to give the show a rewatch and memorialize it here on the blog with a review. Netflix may not have seen the potential of Julie and the Phantoms, but I definitely did, and I hope that you will too. Let’s jump in!
About the Show
Inspired by a Brazilian TV show of the same name, Julie and the Phantoms follows our main character, Julie, who’s struggling with her connection to music after the passing of her mother. But everything in Julie’s life is about to change after she forms a band with three ghosts who can only be seen when the four of them play music together.
After I heard the opening guitar of “Now or Never” (no, not that Now or Never) in the first episode, I was hooked. It’s no secret that Kenny Ortega has what is takes to make the perfect movie-musical, so it should have come as no surprise that he also could shine within a limited series format. All nine episodes of JATP are named after the nine, main musical acts that we see throughout the show, and I found every song from the soundtrack to be worth the listen. My personal favorites are Finally Free and Stand Tall, but I also really love Bright and Unsaid Emily.
I’m now convinced that Kenny Ortega loves giving viewers a solid ensemble cast to gush over, because that is exactly what we see in JATP. Julie forms such a special bond with her three, ghostly bandmates–Luke, Reggie, and Alex–that I couldn’t help but smile and laugh while watching. Of the three ghost boys, Alex (the drummer) was my favorite, but the dynamic between all three of them was unbeatable. Friendship is a major theme throughout the show, and you can definitely feel that as a viewer. While I believe that JATP is a show targeted towards a younger audience, I had a blast watching it as an adult.
I also enjoyed the family dynamic in the show between Julie, her brother, and their dad. The loss of Julie’s mother is still fairly new, so I thought it was a great touch to make her family so present during her journey of learning to connect with music again–a hobby she used to share with her mother.
We also get a few hints at romances that form both within the band and outside of it, and they were all done extremely well. Julie and Luke are the lead singers and write music together, so they inevitably grow feelings for one another despite the fact he is a ghost. I know this dynamic may sound a bit soapy, but I wouldn’t say that the romance overwhelms the show at all (nor does the predicament of Luke being a ghost, and Julie, well, not being one). Instead, we get small moments between Julie and Luke that become everything, especially upon a rewatch. Alex also gets a love interest outside of the band that was the sweetest thing ever.
The Unfinished Business
The ending of the final episode of the show leaves us with lots of unanswered questions and unfinished business (if you know, you know). Honestly, that ninth episode was set up perfectly for a second season, so my re-watch of the finale was bittersweet. Despite the fact that we may never know what comes of Julie and the guys, I don’t think it’s all bad that we’ll only ever have this one season to watch. The themes of overcoming grief and forming a found family lend themselves well to this single, stand-alone story about Julie’s growth. My least favorite parts of the show were the plot points where Julie and the guys weren’t communicating, and thus the villain is able to swoop in and stir up trouble. What I loved about JATP was that it felt like a refined Disney Channel show in some ways; it was fun and didn’t take itself too seriously, but it also had a lot of heart. Though I was initially dying for more by the end after that first watch, I’m now starting to think that unfinished business doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.