Teen series ‘Julie and the Phantoms’ praised for queer romance

A new teen series is being praised for its inclusion of a queer romance between some of its central characters.

Julie and the Phantoms is a new drama based on the Braziallian series Julie e os Fantasmas. Its directed by Kenny Ortega, who previously was behind the High School Musical film series. It tells the story of teenager Julie who is grieving the death of her mother. When Julie finds an old CD of an 80’s garage band she summons into her life the ghosts of three members of the band.

Luke, Alex and Reggie are surprised to learn they’ve been dead for 25 years and it’s no longer 1985, but they soon get to work helping Julie rediscover her love of music.  One of the show’s storylines is how drummer Alex, played by Owen Joyner, meets another ghost Willie and strikes up a romance. Twilight actor Booboo Stewart plays his love interest.

Fans are posting to social media how much they love that Alex’s band mates never have an issue with his sexuality and just accept that he’s gay without any questions. Speaking to PopBuzz, Oretega said he thought it was time we moved from coming out stories and just presented LGBTI characters amongst everyone else.

“I think that today’s a day when we should be able to tell stories that have gay characters that don’t have to be coming out and going through the pain of coming out. Alex’s life’s complicated and he’s an anxious young man but not because he’s gay and I thought that that was really wonderful because that wasn’t my story.”

Oretega recalled that in his youth there were simply no role models for young gay people to look up to.

“I had no role models. I had no characters on TV or at the movies who were telling me, ‘Hey, Kenny it’s okay, you don’t have to hide or live in the dark’. So it’s really wonderful that today in this world we can put characters out here like that.”

Since he began his career as a choreographer in the late 1970’s Oretega’s worked with some of entertainment’s biggest names. His work with 70’s band The Tubes saw him work on the musical Xanadu,  since then he’s worked with Cher, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Gloria Estefan and Miley Cyrus. He was the choreographer on the films Dirty Dancing and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

He’s also directed films including Hocus Pocus, Newsies, and the film This Is It about preparations for Michael Jackson’s tour before his unexpected death. On television he’s created episodes of Ally McBeal, Chicago Hope, Gilmore Girls and the television remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Julie and the Phantoms is streaming on Netflix.

OIP Staff


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