Growing up, one of my favorite shows was Jem and the Holograms. It was an animated TV series that ran from 1985 to 1988. The show followed the life of Jerrica Benton, a girl with a secret identity that only her sister and her friends knew about.
So, who were these girls? Who was the “truly outrageous” Jem? and what was a “Synergy”?
Well, you’re about to find that all out and so much more.
This is the story of Jem and the Holograms!
Jerrica Benton was born on June 1st, 1966 to Jacqui and Emmett Benton. Jerrica and her younger sister Kimber were raised in a busy household due to the fact that Jacqui and Emmett started adopting homeless girls from around the country. Their family home soon became known as the Starlight house and the first girls adopted were Aja Leith and Shana Elmsford. They become Jerrica and Kimber’s best friends and later bandmates.
Before Jacqui had met Emmett she was on her way to becoming a successful singer and songwriter. Then she met Emmett who was a smart and caring man, that she soon fell in love with and married. After the two girls were born, she put her singing career on hold. When Jerrica was 11 years old, Jacqui decided to give her singing career another shot. Her and Emmett started their own record company which they named Starlight Music. It was also around this time that they started the Starlight Foundation. The foundation was a charitable organization that used the profits from the music company to help fund the daily needs of the Starlight House.
With her career being to take off again Jacqui and her band got scheduled a performance out of town. The day Jacqui had to leave, Emmett and the four girls were all there to see her off at the airport. When saying goodbye to Jerrica she noticed that she was overly upset, so she asked her what was wrong and Jerrica proceeded to get angry at her. Jerrica felt that Jacqui was never around anymore and always absent in their lives. Jacqui tried to explain that her career was very demanding and needed her full time but it did no use and Jerrica refused to give Jacqui a hug and kiss that she asked her for before she left. Later that night the plane that Jacqui and her band were on crashed into the woods and there were no survivors.
Not being able to handle the death of his wife very easily, Emmett starts to devote his time to projects that he has started working on. One of those projects is his invention of a supercomputer named Synergy that can project lifelike, holographic images. He programmed Synergy’s voice from the music of his late wife and he used her likeness for Synergy’s personality. At first, he gave Synergy the general appearance of his wife as well but he later changed it so that Synergy would have her own persona. With his daughters in mind, he set up Synergy to be a friend, a guide and have motherlike qualities. After he was done, he built two star-shaped earrings that would work like a remote in order to contact Synergy.
Around this time, Emmett begins not feeling well. He goes and sees a doctor who shocks them all when he tells Emmett that he has Cancer. Now knowing he does not have much time left, Emmett programs Synergy to reveal herself to Jerrica. He does this just in case he does not get the chance to give Jerrica the earrings or tell her about Synergy. Sadly as fate would have it, this happens and Emmett dies before he was able to let Jerrica know about Synergy.
Emmett left Jerrica the Starlight House and Starlight Music Company, however, she is forced to share it with Emmett’s assistant Eric Raymond. Eric became the CEO after Emmett’s death and he only has one thing in mind for the company and that’s to turn it into the biggest music company in the world. He dislikes Jerrica and the way she wants to run it, so he begins to find ways to try and push her away from the company. One of those ways is to no longer give her any funding from the company for the Starlight House.
With no funding for the Starlight House anymore, Jerrica and the girls are faced to find new ways to earn money to keep the house running. After not having much luck, Synergy comes in at the perfect time and reveals herself and all she can do to Jerrica and the girls. It is then that Synergy also tells Jerrica about a few more things her father left her. Besides the house and company, Emmett left Jerrica his roadster car, tons of her mother’s stage clothing and many musical instruments.
Knowing the trouble Jerrica and the girls are facing with keeping the Starlight House up and running, Synergy gives them an idea to enter a battle of the band’s music contest being put on by Eric in his search for a hot new band. The winner will receive a record deal, a mansion and a lot of money. The girls all like the idea and agree that if they can win the contest, they can use the money to save the Starlight House. However, they know that for Eric to allow them to enter the contest, Jerrica can not be involved. So they come up with the idea of Jerrica getting a secret identity which through Synergy and the earrings Jerrica is able to do. Anytime she needs to become the new identity, all she has to do is touch one of her earrings and say “It’s Showtime Synergy”. The earrings have micro projectors in them that project a hologram over her that disguises her features and clothing allowing her to become the secret identity. This secret identity is – “Jem”.
Before the contest, Jerrica introduces Eric to the new band she now manages named “Jem and the holograms”. Of course, the mysterious pink-haired lead singer Jem is late but Jerrica leaves to go look for her, and soon finds her (wink, wink). Eric begins to worry and sees the band as a threat who could stop him from taking over the whole company, so he finds another band he is sure will win the competition – The Misfits!!!
The Misfits are a band with major attitude and the mindset that they are better than any other band around. The Misfits members are Pizzazz, Stormer and Roxy. Later in the show, they pick up a new member named Jetta.
Jem and the holograms win the battle of the band competition and Eric no longer has any ownership of the company. Before long Jem and the holograms become the hottest new band around. With the success and popularity of the band, Jerrica is able to secure the future of the Starlight House and provide more homeless girls with a place to live. Of course, Eric Raymond is not content on just giving up like that and he takes the Misfits and starts his own label.
From this point on the story focuses on Jerrica as she tries to keep Jem’s real identity a secret. It also follows her relationship with longtime crush Rio and Eric’s attempt to get back the company with the help of the Misfits who are determined to destroy Jem and the holograms! There was never a dull moment and I was sad to see the end.
The show ended based on Hasbro no longer producing the Jem doll line. Before the show had aired, Hasbro had created a Jem doll line that ran from 1986 to 87. Hasbro contacted Sunbow Productions to develop a show based on the dolls, once the show was created this was a way to advertise for the dolls. Hasbro continued making dolls, play sets, accessories, and fashion and then stopped production due to low sales. So without the doll line, producers at Sunbow felt there was no reason to spend the money on the show anymore. The show ended after it’s 65th episode.
Jem and the holograms might not have been around for a long time but they were incredibly influential and popular when they were. Jem and the Holograms appeal still runs strong today, as dolls and merchandise are still being produced. There has also been a comic version of Jem and the Holograms released, a movie in 2015 and a JemCon that runs every year in a different location. This year’s Jem convention is in Cleveland, Ohio and is August 24-26th. The JemCon features guest panels, vendors, entertainment, Karaoke, and cosplay. Guest Speakers include Christy Marx, the creator of the animated series, Keith Tucker, the animated series storyboard artist and Samantha Newark, the voice of Jerrica and Jem. Registration is now open and for more info go to www.jemcon.org
Interesting facts about Jem and the Holograms
- The voice of Jerrica/Jem is Samantha Newark. She has been a singer since she was 7 but she actually did none of Jem’s singing, she only provided the speaking voice. Jem’s singing voice was done by Britta Phillips who had never sung professionally before, Jem’s singing was her first professional gig.
- Some of the characters last names were inspired by Scientists who worked with holographic technology. Jerrica, Kimber and the Benton family were named after Stephen Benton- the creator of the rainbow hologram. Aja Leith was named after Emmett Leith- co-inventor of the 3D hologram. Jerrica and Kimber’s father was also named Emmett. Then Pizzazz Gabor who was named after Dennis Gabor- who won a Nobel Prize in Physics for inventing holography.
- Christy Marx, the animated series creator wrote 23 out of the 65 episodes. Other episodes were written by other big names at the time. Those included comic book writer Cary Bates who wrote issues for The Flash and Superman, Paul Dini who was the producer of Batman the animated series and he was the co-creator of Harley Quinn. Another writer was Marv Wolfman who was the co-creator of the new teen titans.
- Jem was originally named “M”, “M” for music, magic, and mystique. Hasbro ended up changing “M” to Jem when they learned they couldn’t trademark a letter of the alphabet.
- Throughout the series, there were 187 music videos. Each episode would have 3 videos throughout it. The music video concept was used due to the popularity of MTV which had begun 4 years prior to Jem. Producers hoped having music videos in the show would help it’s popularity as well.
- In the series finale of Jem and the Holograms, the Holograms and the Misfits call a truce.
- In 2015, Universal Pictures released a live-action Jem and the Holograms movie. The movie did not do well in theatres and received many negative reviews from critics and fans. The main reason is despite the characters having the same names, the movie does not follow the storyline of the animated series at all.
Thanks so much for reading, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below. Don’t forget to check out all the other great articles here on the Game of Nerds.