As you may know (or, maybe you don’t) I am sucker for all cartoons, namely those made in the ’80s, or, and this is important to note, ones thats have remnants of ’80s opulence in them, which really doesn’t take much. Give me a thrilling tempo, some thunder, a couple of shining swords, the damsel in distress, throw in a unicorn sent from a distant planet, and I’m sold. I believe my affection for this specific imagery is an obvious reflection of the imaginative world I gave myself through the shows I watched when was I still eating Teddy Grahams cereal on a Saturday morning.
Now, I could spend all day and night talking about Rainbow Brite, and how obsessed I am with the characters on that show. Twink. Skydancer. On-X, the black robot horse. I could talk about Strawberry Shortcake and question the sanity of whoever created the idea for a bunch kids living in houses made of desserts and a sun in the sky that spoke and acted as their god. Imagine if the two shows had made a cross-over episode. The description might have read: an opium infused walk through Willy Wonka’s brain.
And then there was Jem. This was a truly inventive cartoon for its time. It was created by Hasbro, Marvel Comics and Sunbow Productions. It was different from the other girly cartoons because it wasn’t teaching us to be subservient or rely on a handful of minions to mine for color. Main character, Jerrica, had a rock star alter-ego, “Jem.” She was in a band called The Holograms, and they had a rival girl band, The Misfits. Now, bear with me, Jerrica is able to tap into this alter-ego through the help of a synthesizing, holographic computer that talks and has a name – Synergy. And she’s awesome. Jem’s bandmates are Kimber, Aja, and Shana – she plays the drums, the synth drums.
This show had an exuberant number of stories going on at the same time. For one, Jem, or Jerrica – whatever she wanted to be that day, was in charge of a foster home for girls called…get ready…the Starlight House. So, their concerts funded the home – and this was The Holograms’ ultimate goal. Relatively positive. Then there was that whole superhero-esc, hidden identity, love thing with Jerrica/Jem and this guy Rio. As previously mentioned, their rival band, The Misfits, were made up of Pizzazz, Roxy, Stormer (a keytar player with a softer side) and eventually the addition of Jetta. Whenever The Holograms and The Misfits’ had a battle of the bands, it was like Barbie had found the dark side. In the 3rd season, another band, The Stingers, came onto the scene, shook things up, and inevitably created peace between all three bands.
This show had simple sentiments. You can do whatever you put your mind to. You can be savvy, hip, and responsible with money. And if you want an alter-ego, an inverse identity, and an entourage of people who are named after cars, weather and attitude, then you should strive for that.