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Series / Julie and the Phantoms

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Julie and the Phantoms is a 2020 Netflix original series created by Dan Cross and David Hoge (and directed by Kenny Ortega of High School Musical and Descendants fame) based on the 2011 Brazilian show Julie e os Fantasmas.

It centers on Julie Molina (Madison Reyes), a teenage girl with a passion for music who stopped playing ever since her mother died. But when she meets three ghostly musicians — singer and guitarist Luke (Charles Gillespie), bassist Reggie (Jeremy Shada) and drummer Alex (Owen Joyner) — members of the 1990s band Sunset Curve who died on the night of their first big gig, Julie gains back her love of music and the three ghosts team up with her to become the band they never got to be while alive.

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This show provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Julie’s mom isn’t dead in the original Brazilian show. This makes it play out more like a typical teen drama with the added feature of ghosts, while the English version focuses heavily on Julie grieving over her mother.
  • Alliterative Name: Caleb Covington.
  • Alpha Bitch: Carrie, naturally.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: When Reggie suggests that Julie is a witch, Alex says there’s no such thing as witches, but Reggie points out that he used to think there was no such thing as ghosts.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Reggie invokes this as a joke to scare Carlos and Victoria by throwing a bed sheet over himself.
  • Cassandra Truth: When Julie tells her dad and brother that she’s just seen a ghost they don’t believe her, thinking that she is still grieving.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: The first episode introduces us to Luke, Reggie and Alex, and the list keeps growing from there.
  • Advertisement:
  • Catch Phrase:
    Luke: “We’re Sunset Curve.”
    Reggie: “Tell your friends.”
  • Coolest Club Ever: The Hollywood Ghost Club, an exclusive club sealed off to the public where rich people pay to see ghosts and are sworn to secrecy. It’s so cool, in fact, that the phantoms completely forget about their gig at Julie’s school dance while they’re inside.
  • Dance of Romance: While imaginary, Julie and Luke have one of these in the episode "Edge of Great."
  • Deal with the Devil: While the exact details are vague, these types of deals are Caleb's specialty. And if you do resist his temptations he will play dirty and find a way to force you to accept his offer.
  • Demonic Possession: The Cliffhanger ending of the first season ends in Caleb taking over Nick’s body.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Caleb is seen bumping into Alex in “Wake Up”, but is formally introduced in “I Got The Music”.
  • Egocentric Team Naming: It’s called Julie and the Phantoms for a reason.
    Luke: So does this mean you’re joining our band?
    Flynn: Actually, I think you’re joining her band.
  • Foreign Remake: Of the Brazilian television series Julie e os Fantasmas.
  • Former Friend of Alpha Bitch: Julie, Flynn, and Carrie used to be best friends but they had a falling out.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Having been stuck in a black room for 25 years since their death in 1995, the phantoms are pretty out of touch with 2020 pop culture.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Luke, Reggie and Alex are eating their hotdogs at the beginning of "Wake Up" you can see a missing person's poster for Luke on the wall behind them.
  • Friendship Song: “Flying Solo”, which is about Julie and Flynn’s friendship. Its lyrics are taken from a poem Julie wrote about Flynn.
  • Garage Band: Sunset Curve, their garage being Julie’s mom’s. They were going to be much bigger after their gig at the Orpheum if not for three of the four members dying before they even got to play.
    • The titular Julie and the Phantoms also count as this, since they frequently play and practice in the same garage.
  • Ghostly Goals: Luke, Reggie and Alex believe theirs is to play at the Orpheum.
  • Girl Posse: Dirty Candy. Not only are they Carrie’s posse, but they’re also a dance group.
  • Go to Your Room!: Ray sends Julie to her room after finding out she overslept, missed three classes and a test.
  • High-School Dance: Where Julie and the Phantoms have their first gig. Flynn also DJs at this dance.
  • "I Am Great!" Song: “Wow” and “All Eyes On Me”, both of which feature a Boastful Rap by Carrie.
  • I See Dead People: Julie is able to see the Phantoms for some unknown reason.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode is named after a song featured in that episode.
  • I'm Having Soul Pains: The phantoms feel painful jolts of electricity from time to time after Caleb places his curse on them, which will only stop if they join Caleb’s Hollywood Ghost Club house band. If not, they’ll be shocked until they cease to exist.
  • Invisible to Normals: Ghosts are invisible to lifers and can only be seen by other ghosts. Exceptions are the phantoms, who can be seen when playing music with Julie (which she excuses as the phantoms being holograms), and Caleb, who has the power to make himself and other ghosts visible.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: Invoked when the phantoms appear in Julie’s garage they are wearing the clothes they died in, but also Averted as they are able to change their outfits with their own clothes that were left behind in Julie’s garage.
  • Love Interests: Nick is this to Julie, and Willie to Alex.
    • Later, Luke is this to Julie.
  • Male Band, Female Singer: Julie and the Phantoms. Although Luke sings too, Julie seems to be the lead and begins every song.
  • Meet Cute: Alex and Willie meet because Willie crashes into him while skateboarding. Accompanied by a slow-mo hair flip from Willie and everything.
  • Musical World Hypothesis: “I Got the Music” features an opening musical number to a song of the same name with the whole student body participating in Spontaneous Choreography, which is in odd contrast to the diegetic musical numbers we’ve had until this point... until we find out that it was all in Julie’s head and she was singing and dancing to the music in her earphones this whole time.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Ghosts are able to teleport and some of them, like Caleb, are able to perform magic. The phantoms also count as this, since their music can be heard even if they’re invisible and when playing music with Julie, they become visible.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: The death of Rose, Julie’s mother leads to Julie having to visit her old studio garage and in turn, meet the phantoms.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Reggie.
  • Rock is Authentic, Pop is Shallow: While Julie and the Phantoms are more pop rock than most versions of this trope (and much more so than Sunset Curve was) they are often placed in juxtaposition to Dirty Candy's bubblegum pop dance numbers. Somewhat played with in the second episode where Carrie says she worked really hard on her routine, but mostly it's played straight. Dirty Candy is the privileged commercial pop that cares more about costumes while Julie and the Phantoms are the soulful songwriters.
  • Rock Trio: The phantoms with Luke on guitar, Reggie on bass and Alex on drums.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Nick doesn’t really have a personality other than being Carrie’s boyfriend (later ex) and Julie’s longtime crush. Well, not until the second season...
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • Reggie loses his shirt while teleporting in “Wake Up”.
    • Luke eagerly strips off his old shirt for a fresh one in “Bright”.
  • Skate Heaven Is a Place on Earth: Or a place in the afterlife. Due to him being a ghost, Willie is free to treat LA like his own personal skate park, including in front of cops arresting living skaters, in traffic or breaking into museums.
  • Spooky Photographs: Ghosts don’t show up in photos, instead they appear as glowing orbs.
  • Take That!: Carrie and her band, when in full costume, look like an evil version of Jem and the Holograms, albeit with a fifth, yellow-themed member.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: How ghosts get around.
  • The Food Poisoning Incident: How Luke, Reggie and Alex die. More specifically, poisoned street dogs.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted Julie was seeing Dr. Turner after the death of her mother.
  • The Power of Friendship: The phantoms choosing to be with Julie over Caleb somehow breaks Caleb’s curse.
  • The Runaway: Luke's parents didn't support him being in a rock band at seventeen. The fights lead to Luke running away, something he later regrets.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Carrie starts to applaud after the end of Julie and the Phantoms’ performance at the Orpheum, realizing their talent and becoming a little less jealous of them.
  • Unfinished Business: Ghosts wander among lifers on Earth because they have unfinished business that they have to resolve before they can cross over into the afterlife. Luke, Reggie and Alex presume that their unfinished business is wanting to play at the Orpheum and when they do so, they can cross over. It’s not, even though they do play there in “Stand Tall”.
  • Vengeful Ghost: After finding out Bobby, the one member of Sunset Curve who didn’t die, stole Luke’s songs, released them under the alias Trevor Wilson and got rich off of them, the phantoms take their revenge by sneaking into his Malibu mansion and haunting him. This is what also leads them to meet Caleb.
  • Villain Recruitment Song: “You Got Nothing to Lose”, which Caleb sings after he forces the phantoms to join his house band.
  • Wrong Assumption: Julie assumes “Unsaid Emily”, a song written by Luke is a love song and calls him a romantic. We later find out that Emily is his mother.
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside: Luke, Reggie and Alex believe that they spent an hour in a black room after their death, Julie informs them that they’ve been dead for 25 years.
  • You Look Like You've Seen a Ghost: Said word-for-word to Julie by her dad after she runs out screaming from her mother’s studio after seeing The Phantom’s for the first time.

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