1. MUSIC VIDEOS
The in-show music video’s mimicked the wild new era of MTV. With over 100 songs written by TV writer and lyricist Barry Harman they remain one of the features that made the show unique and that fans still fondly remember today. (Music by Ford Kinder & Anne Bryant, Lyrics by Barry Harman)
2. BATTLE OF THE BANDS
The competition with rival band The Misfits was fierce, the tension held throughout the show and got knocked up a notch in later episodes with introduction of a third band – Euro Glam Rockers The Stingers.
3. BIG HAIR
The 80’s was a decade of excess. Big money, big bands, big hair. JEM took the post glam punk look and ran with it. Outrageous outfits, overloaded on hair spray and our retinas were never the same again.
4. RELATIONSHIP DRAMAS
From boyfriend troubles, trouble with The Misfits and squabbling with her band mates / best friends Jem was full of relationship dramas – and we loved it.
Jem had friends, enemies, betrayals and frenemies. The drama was born of genuine passion and the values of Jerrica, Starlight Music and The Starlight Foundation.
Jem brought the glitz, glamor and sparkle. Style, 101 outfits like her competitor and inspiration Barbie. The outfits, the big bright hair, the earrings, music videos, live performances, pastel colors, sequins, shiny stuff, light shows, sell out audiences – JEM never missed an opportunity to dazzle the audience in the show or the fans at home. JEM was Barbie with a glam-punk-bubblegum bit of edge to her and all the dramas of being an adult woman in an all girl band.
6. THE OUTFITS / STYLE
No outfit too outrageous – from spandex aerobics outfits for The Misfits in their music videos, to stylish ski outfits on holiday, long flowing summerdresses, leggings, short tight mini-skirts and more, Jem was the true rock ‘n roll pop Barbie with no shortage of outfits who (temporarily) left Barbie scrambling in the wind looking outdated, uncool and out of style.
7. SUPERHERO IDENTITY
Jerrica Benton balanced her JEM superhero like secret identity with her civilian identity. One element of the show that played up this angle was the love triangle between JEM, Rio and Jerrica that mimicked the infamous Superman / Lois Lane / Clark Kent love triangle and the constant dramatic tension it created in the lead characters.
In addtion to The Jem show also playing up the well known superhero trope of the secret identity, Jem also incorporated another classic superhero origin mainstay – that of deceased or missing parents – creating sympathy for our tragic heroine, in addition to suffering from often unsolvable real world problems typical of 1960’s Marvel Comics. Relationship dramas, struggling to pay the bills, manage her band, the fight to keep Starlight Music afloat and look after orphans. Jem/Jerrica was an over achiever with a heart of hold who fought the good fight and didn’t back down from a challenge.
While JEM was an american made show, it shared many similarities to Japanese SHOJO Magical Girl shows – with magical transformations, empowered females fighting the good fight and plenty of action in each episode to entice in audiences of girls and boys.
8. FRIENDSHIP AND LOYALTY
While the main characters of JEM are good friends, they have their share of disagreements and in-fighting, pretty much mirroring the old Marvel Fantastic Four comic – who were always a FAMILY first, and superhero group second. The same dynamic worked well in JEM with friends family and frienemies keeping us guessing how things would play out each episode.
9. GOOD GIRLS
Whether your taste in music and fashion leaned toward bubblegum pop and pink, hair metal in spandex, hard rock leather or goth-punk, Jem gave us the goodest of the good and the baddest of the bad, providing plenty of character variety for fans to love or loathe. The good natured girls of Jem and the Holograms had the fun and sass of a Kylie Minogue or Taylor Swift, but behind the scenes had all the frailties, insecurities and trauma that often accompany successful artists.
10. BAD GIRLS
The Misfits were the bad girls who at first come across as overly cliched, but as the show progressed revealed more depth and subtext to the characters. We see the light side of The Misfits, and the dark side of The Holograms, leaving us with colorful but ultimately very human and relatable characters. The show constantly surprised us with it character depth and thoughtful storylines.
11. CROOKED 80S BUSINESSMEN
The central storyline in Jem was Jerrica Benton denied her rightful inheritance from her father to the Starlight Music company – thanks to the shows very own Gordon Gecko style embezzler crook – Eric Raymond. The guy we loved to hate – BOO! You suck Eric! Stop hassling Jerrica! A cliched over the top ruthless power suited 80’s businessman who knew greed was good and he didn’t care whom he hurt or ruined on his way to the top in pursuit of fast deals and hard cash.
12. TEEN RUNAWAYS AND ORPHANS
The Starlight Foundation / Starlight House for foster girls (former home of JEM’s deceased parents) was another nod to the real world where many youth are not able to stay with their actual parents or guardians for a variety of genuine reasons. When the show added in a call number for teen runaways it received many responses and praise. Jem never shyed away from good values and looking after one another, without coming across in a preachy way.
13. REAL WORLD PROBLEMS
While the PSA’s of He-Man, G.I. Joe and Transformers were kind of hokey and a bit annoying, the JEM PSA’s were lesss preachy and more practical, in addition to the show featuring full stories and sub plots where characters grappled with real world issues integrated into the flow of the main story in a show such as abusive parents, financial debt, drug abuse, and homelessness.
14. EDUCATION AND RESPONSIBLITY
Starlight House (for orphans / runaways) was more than a temporary refuge for vulnerable young girls. Jerrrica and her firends were dedicated to educating and shaping these young women to bring out their potential and give them something in life to aim for, moving past their trauma to find a way to function in life.
The JEM show explored sensitive topics like the death or estrangement of ones parents, reconcilations, forgiveness and the trauma/depression of how missing family members affects us all as human beings. In addition to this, JEM emphazied family is not just who is related to you by blood, but the people you are closest to in life, whom you can count on when you are down.
*Work in Process / Jem by MarcoalBiero
*Starlight Girls from Jem Wikia
*Factual notes cross referenced from
JEM fan art profile by Elvis Moura – https://www.deviantart.com/dcnauta/gallery/
Jerrica Benton profile art
Teen Runaways PSA and call number reference