Rembert Explains the ’80s: Jem and the Holograms

Editor’s Note: Welcome back to our series Rembert Explains the ’80s. Every so often, we’ll e-mail 24-year-old Rembert Browne a video from the 1980s that he hasn’t seen. Rembert will write down his thoughts as he’s watching it, then we’ll post those thoughts here. This week’s installment was selected by Grantland editor Dan Fierman: Jem (Season 3, Episode 7: “The Day the Music Died”). If you have an idea for a future episode of Rembert Explains the ’80s, e-mail us at

Rembert’s Note: I listen to the Jem theme song about once a week, but have never seen a second of an actual episode. JEM IS EXCITEMENT, OOOOOOH JEM.

0:01 Hold the phone. This is the wrong theme song. I can’t believe the one time I get a Jem episode, it’s from a season with a different theme song. This is starting off horribly.

0:11 This theme song version is the worst. Why mess with perfection?

0:16 Whoa. They just abruptly ended the intro. What on earth is going on?

0:20 Jem just broke the fourth wall. One of the (cartoon) characters is talking to the audience, alerting us that there won’t be a story today. This is weird. I’m sort of into it.

0:21 JEM’S GONE? NO.



0:31 Wow, this girl’s side ponytail is righteous. I’m kinda in love. Ladies, take note.

0:35 The episode’s called “The Day the Music Died.” Pretty aggressive title, no? That’s like me referring to the money dispute I just had at the deli as “Burr v. Hamilton.”

0:58 Whoever this boss is, she’s telling off everyone. Really rude. Horrible workplace environment.

1:14 Interesting. The one they call “Jerrica” is the boss.

1:19 A lot of names are flying around right now. There’s a dude named Rio, a girl named Shana, and some chick named Kimber. None of this is normal.

1:47 Oh yes, there’s a Jem flashback. She’s so perfect.

2:09 Kimber: “I know, she’s my sister.” Who is she talking about, Jem or Jerrica?

2:11 Wait — she’s talking about Jem and Jerrica like they are the same person. Double wait — why are they called “The Holograms”? Triple wait — oh no.

2:24 New bandmate with pink hair, doing a flashback about Jem.

2:37 New information: There is a band called “The Stingers,” and their lead singer’s name is Riot. It’s two girls and a guy. Kind of like a reverse City High.

2:45 Wow. They are performing the best song ever. It’s called “Under My Spell” by The Stingers, and I know that because they write that out at the bottom of the screen like I’m about to watch a music video. Am I about to watch a music video?

2:52 This dude Riot is cartoon Zeus. I hope he turns into a swan and tries to woo Jem.

3:03 Yep, just happened. Leda Jem didn’t stand a chance.

3:15 Riot and Jem are already on a date. That was 12 seconds. By the beard of Zeus, that was quick. Great Odin’s raven, that was fast.

3:33 Riot has no problem with PDA. He will cheek-to-cheek with Jem onstage in front of 20,000 without even hesitating.

3:40 CLASSIC. The other girls in the band are hating. CLASSIC. This is probably what happened that time Destiny’s Child had four members and Jay-Z paid them a visit. Jay-Z = Riot.

3:51 The music video’s over. I think that was a teaser trailer for the full-length.

4:03 Jem ran off with Riot. That’s so Yoko of him.

4:24 Surprise surprise, Riot is not a good guy. He’s taken her to some island and who knows what’s about to go down. Jem, puh-lease be careful.

4:44 Line of the year (as a boat pulls up):

Jem: What’s this?
Riot: It’s a boat.


5:13 Riot just hologram-napped Jem. Does that mean he has Jerrica too? I still don’t really know what’s going on, outside of Riot being a scumbag.

5:39 New line of the year (as they look off onto the water):

Jem: I feel like we’re the only people in the world.
Riot: And we are.

The man’s got all the game.


6:04 So apparently that was also a flashback (I can’t keep up). The girls expected Jem to return in a few days, but she still hasn’t come back. RIOT, DON’T YOU LAY A HAND ON HER.

6:24 Wow. Apparently the fate of the music industry rests on Jem’s return. This girl must be a star. I’m impressed.

6:53 Jem just sent the girls a postcard (sit down for this; it’s devastating):

Dear Kimber, Aja, Shana, and Raya: I’m having a great time in Mexico. Riot is more wonderful than I ever dreamed. I’ve decided that I’m totally in love with him and I’m going to stay with him from now on. I won’t be returning to the Holograms. Tell Rio he’ll always hold a special place in my heart. Love, Jem.


7:32 Jem and the Holograms are no more. Rival band The Misfits have taken over control of the streets. Leader of the misfits, Pizzazz, is evil.

7:48 Oh yes. Pizzazz hates the Holograms not only because they are rivals, but also because RIOT WAS HER MAN FIRST. Oh, this is too good. Women be fightin’.

8:08 I’m confused. Pizzazz is talking in the past, present, and future tense simultaneously. I have no idea what she’s talking about.

8:28 Starlight Music, the record label that the Holograms are on, is in bankruptcy court. This is super real.

8:56 Wait a second. Bankruptcy court was only the tip of the real iceberg. Apparently Starlight Music is half a record label and half a foster care center. And if they have to sell all their assets, the kids have to go back to the foster care system. There is no way I saw this coming one second ago.

I’m not stopping here! We’re going FULL EPISODE.

9:11 The only way they could prevent that from happening is selling Starlight to Pizzazz and the Misfits. This is bad news. Jem’s the worst.

9:39 Pizzazz just celebrated by kicking a stack of papers three feet high off her desk. Someone’s going to have to clean that up. Probably Kimber.

9:41 NEW MUSIC VIDEO: “Top of the Charts” —The Misfits

10:14 The Misfits are now a huge girl group, consisting of the original Misfits, Riot’s old backup singers, and the remaining Holograms, with Pizzazz as the star. Their rehearsals must be awk-ward.

10:55 That song was awesome. Can’t even front.

10:59 Back on the island, with Jem and Riot.

11:00 Riot: “Have you ever seen such an idyllic existence?” THIS GUY.

11:19 In a flashback, Jem tells Riot she had no clue three days had passed. He definitely drugged her. This is so inappropriate.

Jem: Oh Riot, we have to get back, I have responsibilities, the Holograms, the Starlight Foundation …
Riot: What’s the rush, Jem? You haven’t seen me water ski.
Jem: Are you good?
Riot: Ha, I’m terrific.

No one has ever switched up a conversation like that, ever, in the history of ever. This guy might be a creeper genius.

11:39 He’s really good at water skiing, though.

12:05 Still in flashback, Jem tells Riot that she’s still with Rio (why are their names so close together? That seems dumb, unless it’s important).

12:06 Riot, on Rio: “But I’m smarter, stronger, more … clever than he by far.”

12:27 Riot admits to being a creep by sabotaging Jem and Rio’s relationship and, thus, making Jem vulnerable to a rebound guy, that guy being Riot. Jem is angry. Very angry.


Jem: Riot, take me back right now.
Riot: No.


12:54 Jem attempts to drive off in the speed boat, she and Riot struggle, and then they crash into a pile of large rocks. This can’t be good.

13:21 Jem was knocked unconscious, starts to come to, and has no idea where she is. Riot is pumped.

14:00 Riot’s two backup singers are complaining that Riot is gone. Rio is sulking with the postcard that Jem sent, because his boo ran off. Pretty sad scene going on.

14:30 One of Riot’s girls says that the postcard wasn’t even written by Jem.

14:32 Kimber: “Of course it was written by Jem, I know my own sist— Jem’s handwriting.” Okay, so Jem and Jerrica are the same. How, I still don’t know, but they are. Thanks for the helpful slip-up, Kimbo Slice.

14:42 Oh. SNAP. Riot forged Jem’s handwriting and wrote the postcard.

14:51 Apparently Riot puts a special “R” on anything he writes. It’s his mark. So yeah, everyone knows what’s up. This is about to get good.

15:30 Rio and the girls hop in Pizzazz’s car and head to the location that the postcard was sent from. Operation Rescue Jem has begun.

15:56 They show up to the boat-rental place, guy tells them that they never brought it back because the Coast Guard reported an accident at sea.


16:17 They keep on the Jem hunt. But first, they split up. Always the worst.

16:57 Some accountant named Eric just showed up at the Misfits office and ends up taking a look at Starlight music’s financial troubles. Apparently they are more in debt now then before Pizzazz took over. Pizzazz is the worst. BUT THAT’S NOT IMPORTANT:


17:44 Rio and one of Riot’s girls run through the woods and locate Riot and Jem, in hopes of rescuing Jem. What they see however, are the two, lounging on hammocks, seemingly enjoying themselves. Rio’s crushed, does not disturb them, and walks away.

18:00 Riot’s girl, however, has no shame and wakes them out of their slumber. She tells Jem that Rio is here, and Jem runs away like she’s finally free from her kidnapper. Because she’s finally free from her kidnapper.

18:05 Jem jumps into Rio’s arms, tells him that Riot tricked her.



18:28 Riot and Rio have a standoff. They square up and start boxing each other. It’s like a tropical Burr v. Hamilton.

18:42 Jem steps into the middle and says “I’m not something to be fought over. I do what I choose, and I choose to leave.”

18:45 That actually worked. Go figure.

19:14 Rio stole Riot and his girls’ spark plug to start their boat. So Riot makes the girls paddle while he throws his feet up. What a guy.

20:18 Jerrica returns to the Starlight house to see mayhem. Pizzazz gladly gives the company back to Jerrica, because she hates kids in need of a home. What a lady.

20:32 NEW VIDEO YES: “All’s Right With the World” —Jem and the Holograms

20:52 Wow, this song is awesome. Jem can sang.

21:38 Video over, show over.


(Jem) Jem is excitement, ooooh Jem.
Jem is adventure, ooooh Jem.
Glamour and glitter, fashion and fame.

(Jem) Jem is truly outrageous.
Truly truly truly outrageous, whoooah Jem.
Jem, the music’s contagious, outrageous.
Jem is my name, no one else is the same.
Jem is my name.

But for real, why can’t people figure out that Jem and Jerrica are the same person? It’s not like Batman and Bruce Wayne, where they hang out in different circles. Jerrica is Jem’s boss, they look alike, Kimber slips up and calls Jem her sister every other sentence, and they disappeared and reappeared at the exact same time.

Or maybe I’m just really smart.

Filed Under: Rembert Explains