If you are a child of the 80’s, then you probably remember the animated TV series Jem. With split personality heroine Jerrica Benton, who morphed into rock singer Jem with the help of her machine Synergy, Jem and the Holograms was the cartoon to watch in the mid to late 1980’s. Jem Is Truly Outrageous wasn’t just the lyrics from the opening theme of the show, it was a movement. Jem’s pink hair, rock star appearance, and girl power made all of us girls stand up and take note.
Jem, the animated series, ran from 1985 to 1988, and centered around Jem, who was the lead singer of the rock group Jem and the Holograms. Jem was the alternate personality of Jerrica, who owned Starlight Music, the music company in which the Holograms recorded for. Jerrica was able to morph into Jem with the help of Synergy, a holographic machine her father invented before he died. With a rub of her earrings and her motto, “It’s showtime, Synergy,” Jerrica was able to change into Jem without anyone being the wiser.
Jem was also quite a catch with the guys. Characters Rio and Riot were enamored with her, and it made for interesting TV for a girl like me.
Jem and the Holograms consisted of Jerrica/Jem, Kimber (Jerrica’s sister), Aja, and Shana. They also had a rival band called The Misfits who did whatever they could to upstage Jem and the Holograms and cause problems with their group.
According to what I’ve read about Jem and the Holograms, Jem was first a doll by Hasbro. Hasbro then teamed with Marvel Productions and Sunbow Productions to produce a cartoon based off of the dolls. I personally don’t remember the Jem doll, as I was a huge Barbie fan in those days, but that didn’t matter. When Jem came on Sunday mornings, I always parked myself in front of my parents’ floor model television housed in our family room.
Jem and the Holograms were not only powerful women of their time, they were also fly. Their clothing was always on point, hair high, jewelry shining, and makeup applied to perfection. Jem wasn’t real of course, but became a role model for me. In each episode, Jem and her friends had a problem or issue they had to fix, and by the end of the 22 minute program, they conquered it. Jem may have looked like a fluffy over-the-top cartoon, but there were real messages in it that were empowering and uplifting to girls like me.
And let’s talk about the music! Jem and the Holograms were a rock band, so it was only fitting that they performed two songs during each episode, which were shot in video format. In the heyday of MTV, videos were a huge medium for music. The fact that Jem utilized this video format during the program made it fun to watch.
I know it may be corny and weird to have been influenced so much by a cartoon that featured a “bi-polar” singer and her rock band, but I am pretty okay with sharing this with you. This latest generation of kids don’t know how cool it is to enjoy cartoon shows on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The experiences that we had with animation are completely different to what is available now. I am kind of sad about that.
Did you watch Jem and the Holograms or remember this cult like animated series from the 80’s?
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