Why Julie and the Phantoms Deserves a Second SeasonAshley Myers at .
The reason behind Netflix's cancellation of Julie and the Phantoms is as mysterious as the show's well-dressed villain.
Why cancel a show with an audience score of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and nearly a million loyal followers on Instagram?
"Fantoms," as the most devoted fans call themselves, are baffled and heartbroken.
From renowned director Kenny Ortega (High School Musical, Descendants), Julie and the Phantoms follows 15-year-old Julie Molina (Madison Reyes) a year after her mother's death. When she puts on one of her mom's old CDs, she unwittingly releases the three striking members of the band Sunset Curve.
The kicker: they're all dead.
To convince you why Julie and the Phantoms deserves a second season, let's start with why its first season attracted so many to their screens.
There would be no Julie and the Phantoms without, well, Julie and her phantoms. The bond between the titular characters is the show's beating heart.
From the moment Julie is thrusting her cross at Sunset Curve's Luke (Charlie Gillespie), Alex (Owen Patrick Joyner), and Reggie (Jeremy Shada), we see a delightfully chaotic dynamic forming, which eventually translates into a new band, with Julie as the powerhouse lead singer.
To Luke's dismay, Julie initially has reservations when they ask her to join.
Oh, she said oh. That’s what you say when you get socks on your birthday, not when you’re invited to join the most epic band ever.Luke
One can't help but instantly adore Luke's positive energy and passion, Alex's quietly funny quips and endearing angst, and Reggie's childlike nature and moony smile.
They are each other's family, bound by music and the everlasting shame of knowing street hotdogs killed them. (Couldn't it have been anything else?)
Watching Julie go from tolerating to loving our dreamy ghost boys is a beautiful ride -- not without its bumps, but that keeps it interesting.
When they take to the stage, they are limitless and visible, which is a plus in the case of the guys. But if we're being honest, Julie doesn't need them to shine.
Julie is Reyes' very first role. Wildly impressive, right? Her stellar voice gives us goosebumps, or ghost bumps, as Reggie would say.
Having Julie, Luke, Alex, and Reggie work their way up to perform at the Orpheum, like the guys were meant to do before they died, produces that satisfying full-circle closure, making room for new goals to form beyond the Orpheum.
Julie and the Phantoms is not all pop songs and high school drama, which gives it the edge it needs to appeal to a maturer audience outside of its younger viewers.
Yes, the songs are its major driving force -- all veritable bops -- and there is a touch of teen rivalry, but it has a surprising emotional depth one might not expect from a family-friendly comedy.
It deftly balances humor with grief, making us laugh at a corny line one minute and tear up during a sentimental scene the next.
Most notably, it thoughtfully explores how to heal after losing a loved one.
We see Julie begin to heal when she plays a song her mom wrote for her, Wake Up, marking her first time setting her fingers loose upon the piano keys since her mom's death. The song is an anthem of hope and perseverance. As Julie sings, warm rays of sun flood the room, symbolic of her inviting music and joy back into her life.
Julie's sweet-souled dad (Carlos Ponce) and spirited little brother Carlos (Sonny Bustamante) beam as they hear Julie sing, indicative of how close-knit and loving the Molina family is, even with a vital piece missing. Does anyone else melt when they set the table as if Julie's mom were still alive?
Carlos' presence boosts the humor. He provides that youthful perspective that believes in the impossible. He throws salt toward Alex and cleverly notices the glowing orbs in his dad's photo of the band while his dad remains clueless. Who doesn't love the classic "kid who knows more than the adults" trope?
We can thank Reggie for confirming Carlos' suspicions by "haunting" the house. The old spooky sheet method works every time.
Luke Goes through a similarly cathartic experience to Julie's that's worth mentioning but flipped on its head as his mom reads the apologetic lyrics of a song he wrote her back when he was alive, called Unsaid Emily. While Luke's mom doesn't get to be graced by his voice, we do. Gillespie's tearful performance packs a punch.
Unsaid Emily is what prompted me to give the show a try. It popped up on YouTube's recommended; I watched it, admittedly cried, took to Netflix, and the rest is history.
The friendship between Julie and Flynn (Jadah Marie) checks yet another box. Flynn supports Julie no matter what, always cheering her on. She goes so far as to dub herself Julie's marketing team, presenting Julie with a poster promoting her band.
She also greets Julie with some playful name-calling, which Julie returns effortlessly, their chemistry palpable.
Flynn: Hey, underachiever.
Julie: Hey, disappointment.
When Julie lets Flynn down, she clears the air with an ode to their unbreakable connection. There's nothing like serenading your bestie to win them back.
Plus, Julie and Flynn rock some of the funkiest outfits on the show. Shoutout to Julie's camo jumpsuit and Flynn's flaming white pants. They are the ultimate power duo.
Then there's the budding romance between Alex and Willie (Booboo Stewart) -- the wholesome content we all crave.
One can't help but stupidly grin when witnessing their meet-cute when Willie gives Alex a crash course in ghosting after literally crashing into him on his skateboard. Aw.
Sure, Luke walking through a mirror in Julie's daydream to dance and duet with her is cute, but nothing tops Alex and Willie. Their relationship feels so natural and genuine and buzzing with butterflies. It is so darn tender.
Willie flips his luscious locks. Alex swoons. Willie breathes. Alex swoons.
Let's not forget that Alex leaves his bandmates amid an "afterlife crisis," prepares to be "busted" by Ghostbusters, meets Willie, giggles a lot, and proceeds to happily return to his bandmates to excitedly relay what he learned from his new ghost "friend."
Willie is more than a charming teacher and love interest; he is the key to unlocking a new door of the ghost world, thereby infusing the show with more supernatural elements to spice and thicken the plot.
That door leads to the Hollywood Ghost Club, an ostensible paradise for the dead, run by the suave Caleb Covington (Cheyenne Jackson). It is a sleek, glamorous space where ghosts can eat, drink, and be entertained, all with fog pooling around them.
We, as viewers, are entertained, too, by elaborate dance numbers and flashy, feathered costumes.
Caleb's mesmerizing belts -- that man can sing! -- generosity and a tempting offer (posed as a choice) mask his true intentions.
His sinister purpose is finally exposed when he stamps Luke, Alex, and Reggie, ensuring they'll return to the club to be a part of his ensemble.
Granted, Caleb wears purple, chuckles maniacally, and looks like Dracula, so it's not hard to peg him as the villain.
There's another box ticked. Every supernatural show needs its big bad.
One laugh-out-loud moment is Reggie thinking it proper to mimic Caleb's theatrical chuckle when bidding him farewell. Ah, Reggie, sweet innocent boy.
Above all else, Julie and the Phantoms is wonderfully fun and goofy. With the multitude of popular bleak, violent, or erotic series out there to binge, why nix one of TV's bright spots that all ages can enjoy?
Here's what we could potentially see if granted another season:
- An Alex and Willie kiss. We get the flirting, the tension, the holding of hands, the hug; it's the natural progression.
- More of Flynn. She's radiant, but we only see her as second to Julie. (Julie may be the lead, but couldn't Flynn have a little more of the spotlight?)
- Whatever chaos will ensue with Caleb possessing poor Nick.
The boys confronting Bobby.
- An elaboration on the boy's newfound tangibility. (More hugs, please!)
- Luke playing for his parents. Why doesn't he ever sing to them with the band? His parents have the internet; they'll discover their late son's afterlife gig eventually.
- More of Reggie's backstory (and one-sided bromance with Julie's dad).
- And, of course, a lot more music!
Over 150,000 fans have signed a petition to get the underappreciated Netflix show a second season.
It's now or never!
What would you want to see in a second season? Let us know in the comments!
Ashley Myers retired from TV Fanatic in May 2022..