"The book is a film that takes place in the mind of the reader." ~ Paulo Coelho

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Why I Love Julie and the Phantoms Season 1, Episode 1, “Wake Up”

Hello, friends!

You mightʼve seen the title of this post and thought, “Is MC crazy?” 

Well, “Weʼre all a little crazy.”


Itʼs that time of the month where I talk about Julie and the Phantoms! I have reviewed all of the episodes in the first season, so what else is there to do while I wait for the second season? Just talk about every single detail that I can, of course!

I have reviewed every episode in season 1 (episodes 1-3, episodes 4-6, and episodes 7-9) and all of those have been spoiler-free. I wanted to share the show with the world and get more people to see it without giving away any of the marvelous things that happen. Now that thatʼs done I just want to obsess about it. This is going to be the kick-off of a new series Iʼm planning on starting, called “Why I Love...”! In this series Iʼll explain why I love certain books and movies so much, because sometimes itʼs controversial (One day you will see why I have The Last Jedi in my top STAR WARS movies) or sometimes I just want to talk about it in all the fabulous details.

Sometimes this series will have masterful essays (ha, I hope!) while other times Iʼll simply have a list of some sort to point out all my favorite details. It depends on the day and the topic! My intent is to cover EVERYTHING I love about it, but I am sure that Iʼll miss things, so thatʼs why this is a conversation starter! Tell me what YOUR favorite things about my subject are.

Because of that, THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS POST! The purpose of this is to talk with other fans about all the things that make it so awesome. I would love for you all to join me, but only if you have seen the show! Please, watch it first before reading this post. Don't read through it or even just scroll because there will be some pictures that might give things away, too. You are missing out on my favorite show ever, so what are you waiting for?

This is about me saying as much as I want, but Iʼm going to dial it back at certain points. After the first scene I had written 250 words and in total it was almost 2,500 words. Which is why I am a day late posting this, as I had to edit it a lot to make sure that it is fun and not tedious. Let me know if I was successful in this!

First, I love that this is the introduction to the series! From a rock and roll song, to years in the future, to struggles while coming to grips with loss, to ghosts discovering they can be heard but not seen, to a song for a new beginning. We immediately care for the characters and it introduces things that will be faced later on. It is truly brilliant!

 “Now or Never” is so much more than just another rock song. It is awesome! The lyrics are amazing and the tune is a blast. We get Luke, Alex, and Reggie all singing! It is so rare to see a drummer sing, and it makes me so happy that he isnʼt forgotten. My smile is too big for my face every time Reggie says, “Weʼre the revolution thatʼs been singinʼ in the rain!”

So much energy! These boys are on fire...all for a couple of people in the room. That was worthy of a huge concert, and it was simply the sound check! The tightest they couldʼve played. Can I give a shout out to how all of the actors are playing their own instruments? Fantastic!

“Thank you! Weʼre Sunset Curve, tell your friends.”

I love how we are thrown into the the group of Sunset Curve first thing. The boys are so playful with fist bumps and hugs and it is clear they love what they do. You can see they are a team that will watch each otherʼs backs and give unending support. It makes me ridiculously happy.

“Could you just own your awesomeness for once?” 
“...Alright, I was killing it!”

It shows their personalities of how Luke and Alex are trying to hide who they are from their fans with Luke pulling up his hood and Alex turning away to cover his face, then Reggie doesnʼt get the memo and gives away t-shirts. Speaking of, Reggieʼs smooth talking earlier kills me every time.:
“Hereʼs our demo and a t-shirt, size beautiful.”
Which is perfectly accompanied by Alexʼs hurried explanation to not wipe down the table with the shirt because it falls apart when it gets wet...

Iʼll talk about this more in the episode that I first noticed them in, but the Easter eggs and clues here? If I had been paying attention, then this scene reveals a lot.

ʻ“Thatʼs a new flavor.”
“Chill, man. Street dogs havenʼt killed us yet.”ʼ
When my sister and I started watching the show we knew the premise so we figured they were going to die somehow, but we were so shocked by this! Who wasnʼt? Will we forever think of this when eating hot dogs? (Guys, the day I'm writing this up I ate hot dogs. My sister and I shared a very knowing look)

Now itʼs 2020. When we first see Julie she has her head down and everyone is taller than her so it immediately conveys how she feels and how sheʼs hiding.
ʻ“Hey, underachiever.”
“Hey, disappointment.”
Flynn comes and makes her smile which lightens all of our moods after the dark thing that just happened.

Nick slays on the guitar! I am interested to see if in season 2 (when it eventually comes!) if we get to see people from the music program perform. This teacher is so sweet! I love how she encourages Julie to take her time.

For anyone who didnʼt know about Julieʼs mom, the scene where Julie talks with her dad perfectly conveys in a subtle way what has happened. Julie looks so sad that it makes all of us feel miserable.
ʻ“Mom would like that.”
“Yeah, she would.”ʼ

There is such a melancholy feeling for the scene where she enters the studio for the first time. Especially when she apologizes to her mom that she hasnʼt been in there. I love that listening to a CD her mom had is what she decides to do to start. Music makes us feel closer to people! The way Julie bops her head while listening to music is exactly what I do every time I hear this song.

And, the boys are here! Thereʼs yelling! Followed by groaning because they all hit the floor hard. All of the terrified screams are so realistic! It is exactly what any of us would do if it happened to us. I love how the boys cling to each other for safety, as it shows that they support each other!

I love that Julieʼs dad goes and checks on her. Ray is so caring! Heʼs willing to listen and wants to do anything to make her feel better. The little finger handshake makes me incredibly happy.

Julie is so brave to go back out to the studio! I wouldʼve stayed far away. All of the following dialogue is brilliant!:
ʻ“What are you doing in my momʼs studio?”
“Your momʼs studio? This is OUR studio! Trust me! Fine, the grand pianoʼs new...” 
Lukeʼs face as he realizes something weird is going on is priceless. It is interesting how quickly the boys accept the fact that they are ghosts compared to how shocked they are by the time that has passed. I wouldʼve been more surprised that I was a ghost! Itʼs hilarious how each person has a different method for dealing with Julie from the start: Luke tries but gets very confused, Reggie assumes sheʼs a witch, and Alex is smoothest of all with a softer touch: “WHY ARE YOU IN OUR STUDIO?”

ʻ“Last night was supposed to be a really big night for us. It was going to change our lives.”
“Iʼm, uh, Iʼm pretty sure it did.”ʼ
All the feelings come swooping down! That was their dream. None of us would blame them for getting emotional about this.
“All we did after we floated out of the ambulance was go to that dark room where Alex cried.”
“Well, I think we were all PRETTY upset.”
 “Wait, so it has been 25 years? I have been CRYING, for 25 years? HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?”
“Well, youʼre a very emotional person.”
“I am NOT!”

A great “introduction” to all of them! We already knew their names, but this what was needed. The little, “ba da!” is so cute. 

How Julieʼs reaction is that she is so done with this and doesnʼt care cracks me up.
“Julie seems nice!”
“Did you miss the part where she kicked us out?”

Julieʼs aunt is quite a character. Sheʼs a little pushy, but only because she thinks itʼs what is best. All of Julie talking to the boys and having it be misunderstood by the other people in the room is a joy to watch. Julieʼs glare! I wouldnʼt want to be on the receiving end of that.

“Youʼve got to rip that band-aid off and get the pain over with!” 
*Julie sees all of the guys coming over to her*
*the boys freeze and everyone looks at her*
“Thatʼs me, ripping off the band-aid, ʻahhʼ!”

The names Carlos and Luke are Kenny Ortegaʼs tribute to Cameron Boyce because those where the names of characters he played. I canʼt express how that makes me feel besides the typical, “puddle of emotions”.
I am going to break in here with an ode to Carlos. He is one of the best representations of siblings that Iʼve seen in a fictional story! He is very curious and he wants to keep his big sister safe. It is precious!
Favorite moments from him:
-How his first response to hearing about ghosts is: “Cool!” Then later, “Howʼs your ghost friend? Is he hideous?”
-His prayer before dinner reminds me of so many kids I have babysat.
-Him getting rid of the kiss from his aunt!
-ʻ“So Julie, want to hear how I slid into home and was almost safe?”
“Youʼre a good brother. Thatʼs not going to work.”ʼ

The song the boys play in the studio is SUCH A BOP! Julieʼs angry stomps to tell them to be quiet are heightened by the slippers. The boys are all so proud of themselves! I donʼt want their smiles to stop.
Alex: “What kind of ghosts are we?”
Luke: “Who cares!? People can hear us play!” 
Reggie: “We might be dead, but our music isnʼt.”

“You do know how rad this is!?”
Luke's talk with Julie is so sweet. You can see his passion for music! We were inspired by him from the beginning with his energy and enthusiasm, but we later on we really feel for him. Here we see the beginning of pep talks and he inspires Julie while at the same time defending himself and his friends. Heʼs so kind through it all.

“Iʼm sorry you had a bad day. But three guys just learned that they had a bad 25 years! And then they found out the one thing, THE ONE THING, they lived for in the first place, they can still do. Thatʼs pretty rad.”

I think that his talk about how music makes him feel alive is the thing that clicks for Julie. Plus, three dudes who are ghosts and are dealing with their own grief find time to say sorry to Julie for the loss of her mom? I want to hug them! The way their smiles begin when Julie says, “I guess...” and how they grow even bigger warms my heart! I could watch this group of friends all day (*cough*which is what I do*cough*).

Here we are with “Wake Up”. I could spend the next few pages ranting about Madisonʼs voice. She is incredible!

The whole message of this episode, and even the first season, is that memories are painful, “...but I love that.” They are worth it. Julie sees that as she looks up to the sky, to her mom, after, “Though I wish I could hold you through it.”

From earlier in the show.

The cinematography is stellar! Something that clicked for me from the first and has kept building with each rewatch is the symbolism of the piano as a mirror. The reflection in the piano is her pain. In her class it is too stark and hurts too much to do something. In the studio, it is still there but has been dulled and is not as sharp.
“And you use your pain, ʻcause it makes you you”.
The rising sun adds something to that: love of a memory. It helps block out the pain, which never truly goes away, but lights up the way to show it was worth it all along.

“Life can be a mess,
I wonʼt let it cloud my mind
Iʼll let my fingers fly
And I use the pain,
ʻCause itʼs part of me and Iʼm ready to power through it. Gonna find the strength,
Find the melody,
ʻCause you showed me how to do it.”

Iʼve seen this episode more times than I can count, but Iʼm still tearing up at this song, even with my constant stopping to take notes. Want to see power? THIS SONG IS POWERFUL. It says itʼs okay to be sad. Itʼs okay to be hurt and in pain. USE THAT. Wake up, wake up, if itʼs all you do. Sometimes thatʼs that feels like all you can do, and it tells you thatʼs enough.

“Itʼs not what you lost,
Itʼs what you gained,
Raising your voice to the rain.”

Both Ray and Carlos hear Julie sing! I especially love how adorable Carlos is as he rests his head on his arms. The pure happiness that is on his face now that his sister has found a slice of her own happiness is the most precious thing ever.

I love the hope that this episode carries. That is why I am so obsessed with this show!


Bonus things that make my day:
-Luke: “I want that connection with EVERYBODY.”
Reggie: “Then weʼre going to need more t-shirts.”
-It makes me laugh how the High School is called Los Feliz. The Happy Ones High School?
-Julieʼs outfits! I just noticed that she has a bracelet with her name on it! Iʼd seen her necklace, but not that.
-Flynnʼs earrings that say, “WHAT”
-“Nickʼs a sweetheart!”
“Yeah, youʼd actually have to talk to him to know that.”
-Reggieʼs little shrug when Alex says, “Clearly she doesnʼt get it.”
-ʻ“Nope! Stop talking to them! They arenʼt real. Thereʼs no such thing as cute ghosts.” “Oh, think weʼre cute?”ʼ
-How they all get so defense when Julie calls it Sunset Swerve. Reggie even helps by drawing a curve in the air.
-Setting the table with an extra plate for the mom.
-Ray messing with the instruments and the boys are so offended. They send looks at Julie to help and she shrugs a reply to say that she canʼt do anything.
-“He likes our song!”
“Yeah, he doesnʼt count. Heʼs a dad.”
-“I think sheʼs warming up to us.” Alex is such a sweet character through and through. Also back in 1995 when they vender says that pickle juice helps with the rust: “That canʼt...okay.”
-“Look, Iʼm sorry we came into your life.” The moment where all of us rewatching it say NO!
-“You guys are kinda good.”
“Kinda? You know thatʼs like, 25 years of rust just getting dusted off.”
The hand movements! Thatʼs exactly how dusting things off looks!
-What is written on the song! Julie hugs it!

That's a wrap for me! Thanks for reading! Tell me ALL your favorite things from this episode! Which do you like better, "Now or Never" or "Wake Up"? Does my comparison of the reflection in the piano to pain make any sense? It doesn't hold up for the rest of the show, I don't think. What is your favorite line from this episode?



  1. I loved reading your thoughts! Wake Up is such a great episode (as are all of the Julie and the Phantoms episodes). Your comparison makes COMPLETE sense. It was something I'd never even thought of, but that's so interesting.
    Okay, I didn't even notice that the names Carlos and Luke were a tribute to Cameron Boyce. That's so sweet, and also so sad.
    Ahhhh, don't make me choose between "Wake Up" and "Now or Never". I love them both so much.

    1. *does a happy dance* I'm so glad that you enjoyed it!! I was hoping someone else would besides me. I'll happily write my own thoughts to myself all day, but it's a bonus when others like it, you know? Ack, and you liked my comparison!! The more I said it to myself the less it made sense, so I'm thrilled that it worked out!
      So sad and bittersweet! I nearly cried when my sister pointed it out.
      Same! I listen to both almost on repeat because they are amazing.

  2. Ooh, I think I like Now or Never slightly more, but I love to belt both of them in the car. This was very fun, and I can't wait to see more of these!

    1. Good choice! I will listen to Now or Never more throughout the day whereas I love listening to Wake Up in the morning, for obvious reasons. Aww, thank you! I'm so stoked to do more of these, too!


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"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, where you stop your story." -Orson Welles