Jem (TV series)

This article is about the animated series and toy. For other uses, see Jem (disambiguation).
"Jem and the Holograms" redirects here. For the live-action film, see Jem and the Holograms (film).

Title character and logo from opening sequence
Genre Science fiction
Created by Christy Marx
Voices of
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 65 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Location(s) Los Angeles, California
Running time 23 minutes
Production company(s)
Original network First-run syndication
Picture format NTSC (480i)
Original release October 6, 1985 (1985-10-06) – May 2, 1988 (1988-05-02)

Jem, also known as Jem and the Holograms, is an American animated television series that ran from 1985 to 1988 in U.S. first-run syndication. The series is about music company owner Jerrica Benton, her singer alter-ego Jem, her band the Holograms, and their adventures.[3]

The series was a joint collaboration by Hasbro, Sunbow Productions and Marvel Productions, the same team responsible for G.I. Joe and Transformers.[4] The creator of the series, Christy Marx, had also been a staff writer for the aforementioned programs.[5] The animation for most of the episodes was provided by the Japanese animation studio Toei Doga (Toei Animation).[6]


Jem and her true identity Jerrica Benton.

The series revolves around Jem, the mysterious lead singer of the rock group "Jem and the Holograms". Her real name is Jerrica Benton, and under this name she is the owner and manager of Starlight Music. Jerrica adopts this persona with the help of a holographic computer, known as Synergy, which was built by Jerrica's father to be "the ultimate audio-visual entertainment synthesizer" and is bequeathed to her after his death. Jerrica is able to command Synergy to project "the Jem hologram" over herself by means of the remote micro-projectors in her earrings, thus disguising her features and clothing, enabling her to assume the Jem persona. While disguised as Jem, Jerrica is able to move freely without restrictions and on several occasions other people have been in direct physical contact with her without disrupting the holographic projection. Jem, through the use of her earrings, is also able to project holograms around her and uses this ability throughout the series to avoid danger and provide special effects for the performances of her group.

Jem's group, "the Holograms", consists of Kimber Benton, Jerrica's younger sister, keyboardist, and main songwriter for the band; Aja Leith, guitarist; and Shana Elmsford, who plays the synth drums. Aja and Shana are also childhood friends and adopted foster sisters of Jerrica and Kimber, having lived with the Benton family since they were young. Shana briefly leaves the group to pursue a career in fashion, at which point a new character, Carmen "Raya" Alonso, is introduced as her replacement. The Holograms are aware of Jem's secret identity and the existence of Synergy when the series begins, while Raya is made aware unintentionally shortly before joining the group. Upon her return to the Holograms, Shana becomes the band's bassist.

The Holograms have two rival bands: "The Misfits" and "The Stingers". The Misfits are composed of petulant rich girl Pizzazz (real name Phyllis Gabor) and her cohorts: no-nonsense guitarist Roxy (Roxanne Pelligrini) and kind-hearted, sensitive keytar player Stormer (Mary Phillips). They are joined later by the manipulative British saxophonist Jetta (Sheila Burns).

The Stingers debut on the third season when they hit town and shake things up for both groups becoming co-owners of "Stinger Sound" with Eric Raymond. Originally from Germany, the Stingers are composed of egotistical lead singer Riot (Rory Llewelyn), guitarist/con artist Rapture (Phoebe Ashe), and keyboardist Minx (Ingrid Kruger). (The real names of Minx and Rapture are not disclosed in any of the installments.)

Jem features frequent action sequences to cater to a wider audience.

Episodes of the series frequently revolve around Jerrica's efforts to keep her two identities separate, protect Synergy from those who might exploit the holographic technology, and support the twelve foster children known as the "Starlight Girls" who live with her and the Holograms. The Misfits frequently attempt to upstage Jem and the Holograms' endeavors, often nearly resulting in physical harm to members of the group. This rivalry is encouraged and manipulated by their manager and central villain in the series, Eric Raymond, former half-owner of Starlight Music who runs Misfits Music (later Stinger Sound).

During the series, Eric Raymond constantly plots to become owner of Starlight Music and get revenge on Jem and the Holograms for having cost him control of the company. Jerrica also deals with a complex and emotionally draining faux love triangle involving her alter identity, Jem, and Rio Pacheco, longtime boyfriend of Jerrica. Rio romantically pursues both women, not knowing they are one and the same. Later in the series, Jem is also romantically sought after by Riot, who becomes infatuated with her – adding further complications to her relationships.

In the final episode of the series, the Misfits and Jem declare a truce when Ba Nee, one of the most troubled foster girls in Starlight House, is claimed by her long-lost father. Her father is found by Jem and the Holograms with the help of Riot's father. Riot's relationship with his father is mended with the help of Jem.[7]



Main article: List of Jem episodes
Season Episodes Originally aired
1 26 October 6, 1985 (1985-10-06) March 15, 1987 (1987-03-15)
2 27 October 21, 1987 (1987-10-21) January 12, 1988 (1988-01-12)
3 12 February 2, 1988 (1988-02-02) May 2, 1988 (1988-05-02)


Conception and staffing

Hasbro hired advertising agency Griffin-Bacal Advertising, the founders of Sunbow Productions, to create the 65-episode animation series. Griffin-Bacal (Sunbow), as well as Marvel Productions, had previously created the successful G.I. Joe series for Hasbro. G.I. Joe writer Christy Marx was hired to create the series based on the line of dolls and the original concept, which consisted of the two girl bands, Synergy, the boyfriend Rio, and the Rockin' Roadster. Marx created the full character biographies and relationships, including the love triangle aspect between Rio and Jerrica Benton/Jem, Starlight Music and Starlight House, the Starlight Girls, the villain Eric Raymond and various secondary characters. Later, Marx was asked to develop new characters as they were introduced.[8]

Marx wrote 23 of the 65 episodes. Other writers for the series included Cary Bates, Greg Weisman, Paul Dini, Buzz Dixon, Ellen Guon, Steve Mitchell, Michael Reaves, David Wise, Marv Wolfman, Mary Skrenes, Beth Bornstein, Roger Slifer, Richard Merwin, Sandy Fries, Cheri Wilkerson, Misty Stewart-Taggart, George Arthur Bloom, Jina Bacarr, Barbara Petty, Chris Pelzer, Michael Charles Hill, Eric Early, Clare Noto, Carla Conway and Evelyn A. R. Gabai.

The Executive Producers were Joe Bacal, Jay Bacal, Tom Griffin and Margaret Loesch. The story editor was Roger Slifer and Christy Marx featuring industry veteran Wally Burr as the series' voice director. The series' directors and supervising animators included many veterans of the DePatie-Freleng cartoon studio including Gerry Chiniquy, John Gibbs, Norm McCabe, Warren Batchelder and Tom Ray.


Samantha Newark provided the speaking voices of Jem and Jerrica. Despite having toured as a child singer in Africa, she did not do the singing for Jem. The voiceover cast never auditioned for the music side of the series and vice versa. The music for Jem was all cast and recorded in New York and Atlanta and the voiceover actors were cast and recorded in Burbank, California. They matched the speaking voices of the cast to the singing voices.[9] Britta Phillips, who had never before worked professionally as a singer, was cast as the singing voice of Jem after obtaining an audition through her father who worked on jingles in New York. The initial take from the audition was used as the first opening theme song, "Truly Outrageous".[10] The remaining Holograms speaking voices were provided by Cathianne Blore (Kimber Benton/Aja Leith), Cindy McGee (Shana Elmsford), and Linda Dangcil (Carmen 'Raya' Alonso).

The Misfits's speaking voices were provided by Patricia Alice Albrecht (Phyllis "Pizzazz" Gabor), Samantha Paris/Bobbie Block (Roxanne "Roxy" Pellegrini), Susan Blu (Mary "Stormer" Phillips), and Louise Dorsey (Sheila "Jetta" Burns), the daughter of Engelbert Humperdinck. Ellen Bernfeld provided the singing voice of Pizzazz.

The Stingers's speaking voices were provided by Townsend Coleman (Rory "Riot" Llewelyn), Ellen Gerstell (Phoebe "Rapture" Ashe), and Kath Soucie (Ingrid "Minx" Kurger). Gordon Grody, a vocal coach who later worked with Lady Gaga, provided the singing voice for Riot.[11]

Other notable cast members included Charlie Adler, who had already had a lengthy voice-over career, as the central villain Eric Raymond. He also provided the voices of both of Eric's major henchmen Zipper and Techrat.[12] the late Vicki Sue Robinson, famous for the 1970s discothèque-oriented hit "Turn the Beat Around", who provided the singing voices of both Rapture and Minx, and Ari Gold, pop singer and songwriter, who provided the singing voice for Ba Nee.[13] [14]


Beat This by Jem and the Holograms (Britta Phillips)
30 second sample from the music video "Beat This" featured in "The Talent Search Part 2".

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The inclusion of music videos in Jem was a result of the success and popularity of MTV at the time which began airing four years prior. The placement of the songs throughout each episode was done to complement the story and the use of music videos in the show was considered "radical" for the time. The show contains a total of 187 music videos with 151 unique songs.[15]

The series' format called for three fully produced songs for the featured music videos in each episode. Lyrics for the show's featured songs were written by Barry Harman. The theme song "JEM  Truly, Truly, Truly Outrageous" was the opening and closing theme for the show until late 1987, when Bryant's second theme, "JEM GIRLS" became the series' opening theme for the majority of episodes and "JEM  Truly, Truly, Truly Outrageous" was kept as the show's permanent closing theme.[16] Music videos featured an "in-your-face" style that was directed at the viewer or the more traditional style. The music videos paralleled the style of rock videos found on MTV at the time featuring fast editing, a quick pace, and special effects.[17][18]

A music video featured in the show. A music video that deviates from the normal action in the show.[19]

Ellen Bernfeld, performing as Pizzazz, Britta Phillips, performing as Jem, and Gordon Grody, performing as Riot, the lead singer of the Stingers, along with Diva Gray, Florence Warner and Angela Capelli were the voices of the pop, funk and punk electronica productions, supported by Britta Phillips's father, pianist Peter Phillips, and by guitarist Steve Bill, bassist Tom Barney and set drummer and electronic drum programmer Tom Oldakowski. Anne Bryant, who chose the singers and musicians, created a pure young pop sound for Jem and the Holograms supported by acoustic instruments. The sound for The Misfits was crafted as strictly electronic other than the addition of guitars and an occasional sax solo when the character of Jetta was introduced into the Misfits. This was done to create an identifiable punk electronica style in stark contrast to their rival singing groups. In season three, Bryant introduced the slower, smooth, sexy/funky groove for the third group that entered the show, the Stingers.[10]

No official Jem soundtrack was ever released; however, many of the songs from the first season were released on cassette with dolls or play-sets.[20]


Jem was the #1 Nielsen rated syndicated cartoon series in November 1986 and in 1987 it was the third most watched children's program in syndication with 2.5 million viewers weekly.[21] Jem has aired in multiple countries including Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, West Germany, Netherlands, United States, Italy and France.[22] The show was nominated for the Young Artist Award twice, once in 1986 for "Exceptional Young Actresses in Animation: Series, Specials, or Film Features" for Samantha Newark's performance, then in 1988 for "Best Animation Series".[23][24]

The long-standing popularity of Mattel's Barbie franchise led to a competition between Hasbro's Jem product line and Barbie and the Rockers, a similar product line by Mattel. This resulted in reduced sales for both products. Hasbro discontinued the Jem toyline at the end of 1987 after it failed to meet sales expectations, but despite this, the series continued production and aired until 1988. Jem was partially released on DVD in multiple countries, with a complete set available for the first time in 2011. The same year, Jem began airing on The Hub in the United States, causing a significant increase in the ratings for the channel. It also aired on Teletoon Retro in Canada.[25][26][27] [28][29]

Home video releases

Release name Ep # Company Release date Notes
Various VHS releases[30] 25 (total) Kid Rhino, Family Home Entertainment, Avid Entertainment 1986–1987 (FHE, Avid) 1999 (Kid Rhino) Various home video releases containing between two and five episodes.[30]
Various VHS releases 18 (total) Video Gems, Tempo Video 1986 (Video Gems) 1987–1989 (Tempo Video) Various home video releases containing between two and five episodes.
  • Jem  The Complete 1st & 2nd Seasons
  • Jem  Season 3, Part 1
45 Rhino Entertainment (US)
  • March 30, 2004
  • September 14, 2004
Contains all 26 episodes of season one released as "Jem  The Complete 1st & 2nd Seasons" and the first 19 episodes from season 2 released as "Jem: Season 3  Volume 1". Each DVD release is digitally remastered and contains Dolby Digital 5.1 audio along with the Dolby Digital 2.0.[31]
Jem Truly Outrageous The Movie 5 Metrodome (UK)
  • October 2, 2006
  • June 4, 2007
Contains the first 5 episodes of the series in their TV movie format.[28]
  • Jem et les Hologrammes  Edition VF  4 DVD  Partie 1
  • Jem et les Hologrammes  Edition VF  4 DVD  Partie 2
  • Jem et les Hologrammes  Edition VF  4 DVD  Partie 3
64 Declic images (France)
  • January 15, 2010
  • January 15, 2010
  • April 30, 2010
The episodes are dubbed in French with the exception of the music videos. The set is missing the episode "Fathers' Day".
Jem and the Holograms: The Truly Outrageous Complete Series 65 Shout! Factory (US) October 11, 2011 The complete series on 11 DVDs with bonus material. Bonus material includes the documentary featurettes "Showtime, Synergy! The Truly Outrageous Creation of an '80s Icon", "Glamour & Glitter", and "Jem Girls (and Boys!) Remember", as well as original commercials, animatics, and rare DVD-ROM material. Walmart began offering an exclusive edition in simpler packaging with the series authored onto only eight discs on September 29, 2015. [32]
Jem and the Holograms: Season One 26 Shout! Factory (US) October 11, 2011 All 26 episodes from season one.[33]
Jem and the Holograms: Season Two 26 Shout! Factory (US) February 14, 2012 26 episodes from season two excluding "Britrock".[34]
Jem and the Holograms: Season Three 13 Shout! Factory (US) July 10, 2012 12 episodes from season three and "Britrock".[35]
Jem and the Holograms: The Truly Outrageous Complete Series 65 Universal Pictures UK February 15, 2016[36] All 65 episodes spread over 10 discs, a Region 2 PAL re-release of the US Shout! Factory release, though lacks the 11th bonus material disc.

VHS UK history

Broadcast UK history

Current status of the franchise

Christy Marx has long expressed a desire to make a modern-day revival of the animated series, but stated in a 2004 interview that there are a great deal of complications concerning the rights to the Jem properties.[37]

I would like to see that happen. I don't want to go into a lot of detail, but the whole rights situation for Jem is very, very complicated. Believe me, if there were a simple straightforward way to do it, it would be done. But there are some very big complications that are in the way at the moment.
Christy Marx


After almost 20 years, since last airing in the United States in 1993 on the USA Network (in re-runs), Jem returned to syndication. On May 31, 2011, the show was added on The Hub, but it was removed from the lineup on May 27, 2012. On October 20, 2013, Hub Network brought Jem back for morning lineups.[38][39] The series was also aired on Discovery Family from October 13, 2014 to November 15, 2015.

On July 25, 2011, Teletoon Retro, a Canadian channel dedicated to cartoons, announced that Jem would be part of its fall 2011 lineup.[40] On April 5, 2012, Hasbro announced that Jem, along with several other Hasbro franchises, will be available on Netflix.[41]


On September 8, 2011, Hasbro issued a press release announcing its attendance at the 2011 New York Comic Con convention, which ran from October 13 to October 16. The press release stated that Hasbro would be showing new and upcoming products from its toy lines at its booth, including Jem and the Holograms.[42]

On June 27, 2012, Integrity Toys, Inc. announced their plans to release a brand-new series of collectible fashion dolls based on the TV series. The special edition Hollywood Jem doll became available at the Hasbro Toy Shop booth during Comic-Con International in San Diego at an approximate retail price of $135.[43] The Jem doll sold out on day two of the convention.[44]

On October 5, 2012, the four (then-upcoming) dolls in the new Integrity Toys limited edition collectible line were presented with pictures: Classic Jem, Jerrica Benton, Synergy and Rio Pacheco.[45] The suggested retail price is US$119 and they began shipping in late November 2012; pre-orders were accepted via Integrity Toys' network of authorized dealers.[46] As of October 2016, Integrity Toys has produced over forty different dolls based on the classic show.[47]

IDW comic

The Jem comic book was released by IDW in March 2015: written by Kelly Thompson, art by Sophie Campbell and colors by M. Victoria Robado.[48] The comic book offers a modern reimagining of the series with new character designs and different situations, such as the Holograms and the Misfits being unsigned bands at the start with Eric Raymond being hired as the Misfits' manager during the second story arc. In addition, Kimber and Stormer begin a romantic relationship. As of Issue #16, which is Campbell's final issue as regular artist, The Stingers have been introduced to the series, with Raya being featured as a fourth member of the band.

Live-action film

After the success of G.I. Joe and Transformers films, Hasbro began considering a live-action film adaptation or a new incarnation of the animated series with Universal Studios, with which Hasbro had signed a six-film contract in 2010.[49]

On March 20, 2014, a live-action motion picture adaptation of Jem and the Holograms was announced, to be directed by Jon M. Chu.[50] Filming on the production began in April 2014.[51] On April 24, it was announced that Aubrey Peeples had been cast as Jem, with Stefanie Scott as Kimber, Hayley Kiyoko as Aja, and Aurora Perrineau as Shana.[52] On April 30, 2014, actor Ryan Guzman was cast as Rio.[53] On May 20, Juliette Lewis and Molly Ringwald joined the film.[54] The film was theatrically released on October 23, 2015.[55]


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  3. Swenson, John (December 19, 1986). "Jem Is Rocking Fashion Doll Industry as She Battles Barbie for Top Spot". Los Angeles. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
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External links

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