Now, I didn't grow up in the 80s, but I do love me some vintage cartoons, and I did grow up living my Jem and the Holograms fantasy. It's like Barbie meets Hannah Montana with a dash of X-Men… and makes it fashion. Yes, there was a reboot movie… which bombed and was terrible and we don't talk about it. But I believe there's still hope for a reboot of this classic franchise, and here's how I'd do it: stylize it and give it the "Scott Pilgrim" treatment via streaming series.
Jerrica's father dies and leaves his record label, Starlight Records, to her for her to run, and she realizes there's an old drive-in that her father owned. But the drive-in holds a secret: her father also left her a super high-tech computer called Synergy, who helps Jerrica transform into Jem: the hyper-fashionable pop star, so she can save Starlight Records by giving them hits and putting both Jerrica and Jem on the map. No, there are no ex-boyfriend battles, but just bear with me. Jerrica is a superhero, with her alter-ego being Jem, an iconic pop-star on the rise. Her and her band, the Holograms, go head-to-head against the Misfits, a punk band constantly trying to steal their spotlight by any means necessary.
My Jem series would be campy and hyper-stylized- you wouldn't quite know what was real and what wasn't. Perhaps Jerrica's whole alter-ego would be something of a mystery: we never really know if it's real or all in her head- just like in "Scott Pilgrim." It will be colorful and larger-than-life, with each character we are introduced to probing to be more outrageous than the last.
There's so much potential with Jem, it feels like a waste of the franchise to adapt it for the modern, live-action medium so literally. I'll spare you my dissertation on the 2015 box office bomb, but needless to say… that's exactly what they did and it failed miserably.
So, my Jem series wouldn't be entirely modern… but not entirely 80s either. It exists somewhere in-between, like a Baz Luhrmann film: it blends the two but still feels contemporary. That's what I want to capture: the style, fun, fashion, and overall extra that Jem represents. She's like Lady Gaga meets Miley Cyrus… in drag queen version and dunked in glitter.
Maybe I've been watching too many cartoons and too much RuPaul's Drag Race, but I feel like for a series adaptation of Jem to be successful, it needs to lean into the camp and embrace the fact that the original cartoon is truly outrageous. Hell, I would even love to see a faithful adaptation of the 2015 comic series. Deep down, we're all Jem girls, and now that all the Jem die-hard fans are older, we need a series that's truly outrageous and embraces the heart of glamour, glitter, fashion, and fame.