Julie and the Phantoms debuted on Netflix in 2020 as a musical dramedy aimed at a younger audience, but viewer response made it clear that the show was a hit with viewers of all ages. Kenny Ortega of the High School Musical and Descendants franchises helped bring the show to Netflix as an executive producer, and fellow producer Shawn Williamson spoke with CinemaBlend in November about the series.
Brightlight Pictures' Shawn Williamson, who worked as a producer on Netflix's Julie and the Phantoms as well as Descendants 2 (2017) and Descendants 3 (2019) for Disney Channel, explained working with Kenny Ortega to bring Julie to streaming:
Starring Madison Reyes as the titular Julie and featuring a trio of ghostly bandmates that only she could see except when they played exceptionally catchy songs together, Julie and the Phantoms Season 1 is a heartwarming (and occasionally heartbreaking) experience. Luke (Charlie Gillespie), Alex (Owen Joyner), and Reggie (Jeremy Shada) make up the band of ghosts (or musician spirits, as they prefer) after death via hot dog, and Kenny Ortega recruited Descendants veterans Cheyenne Jackson, Booboo Stewart, and Jadah Marie to fill the ranks.
Although Julie and the Phantoms is listed as a "Kids' TV" show on Netflix, I can safely say as somebody more than a couple of years over the target demographic that the show doesn't just appeal to a younger audience, and I'm certainly not the only person no longer qualifying as a kid who fell in love with the show. Producer Shawn Williamson explained the broad appeal of the show, saying:
While Julie and the Phantoms isn't a musical in the same vein as The Descendants or High School Musical films, the songs that come from the actual band are about as catchy as anything on the radio, and even the songs from rival Carrie and villain Caleb are easy to bop along to. And, even though few viewers probably related to the evil soul-stealing ghost magician, there is a lot to relate to with this show, not least because of the levels of representation.
As veteran binge-watchers likely knew going into Julie and the Phantoms, Netflix isn't exactly known as the place to be for shows that incorporate music so deeply. Producer Shawn Williamson noted that while Julie and the Phantoms "was incredibly difficult to produce," it "was very fun." He explained the challenges of making something so revolutionary for Netflix:
All the appeal of Julie and the Phantoms as well as the work that went into building the world for Julie, her ghost friends, and everybody else raises the question: what about a second season? Although there is no confirmation one way or the other about Julie and the Phantoms Season 2, Shawn Williamson weighed in on whether or not there are places for the show to go in a second season if Netflix gives the order for more:
While fans await news of whether Julie and the Phantoms is renewed for Season 2 or goes the way of some other shows that were unexpectedly cancelled within the last year, it's never too soon to hope or even speculate about what will happen next. There are plenty of questions that could use answers after how Season 1 ended, which wasn't without its share of cliffhangers.
For now, you can always watch (or rewatch) the nine episodes of Julie and the Phantoms Season 1 streaming on Netflix. You can also find all the installments in the Descendants franchise streaming on Disney+, including Descendants 2 and Descendants 3 hailing from Shawn Williamson's Brightlight Pictures and featuring some familiar Julie and the Phantoms faces.
The three High School Musical entries are streaming on Disney+ as well for an extra fix of Kenny Ortega's musical and choreography skills on the small screen. For some additional viewing options now and in the not-too-distant future, be sure to check out our 2021 winter and spring premiere schedule and 2021 Netflix premiere guide.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).