Jem & The Holograms Vs. Josie & The Pussycats: Which Vintage Cartoon Girl Band Rocks The Hardest?
It is a known fact that all-girl bands have a propensity for being awesome. Even cartoon female bands like Jem and the Holograms and Josie and the Pussycats have built up fanbases so dedicated, you’d think they were real rock stars. The upcoming release of the Jem and the Holograms movie got me reminiscing about the other animated riot grrls I’ve adored since childhood, and I wondered how Josie and the Pussycats would stack up against the ‘80s glam rockers. So I put together this very scientific comparison of Jem and the Holograms vs. Josie and the Pussycats to find out which cartoon girl band reigns supreme.
Josie and the Pussycats did hit the scene first. They made their pop culture debut in Archie Comics in the 1960s, then made the jump to television in 1970 and lived on in Saturday morning syndication for a few decades after. Audiences met Jem in 1985, as if that timing weren’t made completely obvious by the Holograms’ neon hair and lightning bolt earrings. Though they hit television a good 15 years apart, Jem and Josie are often mentioned in the same breath, since they’re both about girls who can shred and who can only succeed by being themselves. Here's where else those bands compare:
The Josie and the Pussycats theme song, like many of its time, is overly descriptive. Cute, but with far too much info. "Long tails, and ears for hats!" I can see that for myself, thank you.
Jem and the Holograms had a theme with more edge and sex than the average cartoon opener. And it solidified "truly outrageous" in the pop culture lexicon of the decade.
Ginger Josie is the leader of the Pussycats, striking the balance between brainy Valerie and ditzy Melody. Don't look for much character development in the cartoon, though; Josie's life consists of playing guitar, foiling crimes, and holding on to her boyfriend. Her inner life is nil.
Jem is more intriguing, seeing as she technically has two personalities. Her mild-mannered alter-ego is Jerrica Benton, a record company executive. It's cool enough that this show gave young viewers a heroine who's young, smart, and in a position of power, but add in her holographic public identity and she's even more of an icon. Hannah Montana can eat her heart out.
Josie shacked up with her road manager Alan, who isn't anywhere near exciting enough to have Josie and her nemesis Alexandria fighting over him.
Rio has his own set of problems. He runs game on both Jem and Jerrica without realizing they're the same girl. Does it count as cheating if he doesn't know about your secret identity?
Josie and the girls really ran with that cat theme, didn't they? They usually perform in speckled leotards and the aforementioned "long tails and ears for hats." Gotta love a band who finds a concept and sticks to it.
Jem and the Holograms, on the other hand, are poster girls for the early-stage MTV generation. Their nice-girl take on the aggressive color scheme of the decade is in contrast to their rivals The Misfits and their poisonous acid greens.
Best Piece Of Tie-In Merchandise
Josie and the Pussycats superfans can still find vintage Archie Comics featuring the girls on Ebay, Etsy, or by rifling through used comic sales.
The must-have piece for a Jem collector is a Rio doll, particularly the purple-coiffed version. This little number was a status symbol for kids in the late '80s, because his punk swagger was worth dozens of boring Kens.
Live-Action Movie Adaptation
The 2001 movie adaptation of Josie and the Pussycats is an underrated masterpiece. It dropped the characters into the TRL mania of the early '00s and satirized the state of pop music and celebrity culture with glee. And the soundtrack is too legit.
The success of the Jem and the Holograms movie is still in question, but fans of the original had a lot to say about the apparent changes after the first trailer dropped. Jerrica isn't the head of a record company in this version, there's no sign of the Misfits, and wait, where are the actual holograms? Yet without knowing what's actually shown in the full movie, this category is a draw.
Winner: Jem And The Holograms
It's hard to imagine a movie version of Jem — or any girl-group movie, for that matter — comparing to the masterpiece that is Josie. But otherwise, Jem and the Holograms comes out on top in fashion, female empowerment, and friendship. Truly outrageous for life.