There is a reason a lot of Julie and the Phantoms viewers are adults. There is also a reason why this show reaches deep into our tired bones and tugs on the parts of us that still want to believe our dreams aren’t just ghosts within.
It’s a story about friendship, and it’s a story about the power of having a support system, whether human or in this case, spiritual. Belief helps us stand tall and the literal representation of that coming through in the form of a song in the finale is still something I can’t stop thinking about.
“Stand Tall” is a number that is crucial for both Julie and The Phantoms. So often moments and songs like this could border on extremely cliché territory, but ultimately, it’s a reminder of what we all need. A reminder to understand that even when we are alone, we aren’t lonely, we aren’t less than, we haven’t failed.
It’s a reminder that we’ll be okay even if we don’t achieve our dreams or even when we do. It’s a moment for Julie to really see that she can shine after her mother’s death.
It’s the showcase of what signs mean, and the power they hold. When she places the dahlia flower on the piano, she visibly carries her mother’s strength with her.
When she woke up to the possibilities of singing again in the first episode, she fought to ensure she didn’t revist that dark place even when things got tough. And therefore, to stand tall means to try. If the boys never made it to the performance, if Julie didn’t make it onto the stage, they would still stand tall because that’s the essence of this show.
It’s the emphasis on trying to stand up even when every part of us knows it’d be easier to stay down. And the actual manifestation of this comes in Luke’s refusal to give up even while he is still being pulled back by Caleb’s tether. Because again, even if he didn’t make it, the effort is monumental, and the effort is everything.
And sometimes, putting effort into something even while it’s hard exhibits that we did in fact, stand tall. Whatever happens is a lyric that screams for viewers (or listeners in this case) to really see that no matter the circumstances, effort is still everything and effort matters.
Julie performed because she wanted to, and Julie made it through with the Phantoms not only because they were meant to, but because they each chose to. In the same way that forming this band was a decision they made, this performance was a choice to set the boys free, and to show the world what Julie Molina was always capable of.
“Stand Tall” is the last number, but it’s not their current call. It can’t be. It’s the promise to keep going, the promise to keep trying, and for each of them, it means something different.
It’s embracing the parts of themselves they might have not understood. It’s embracing the parts of themselves that have been tethered to pain. It’s embracing their abilities, and their strengths along with their weaknesses.
Again, there’s a reason so many of us who’ve clung to this show and continue to question Netflix’s silence on a renewal because it’s spoken to the parts of us that have struggled.
It has spoken to the parts of us that feel small, invisible, and anything but tall. It’s spoken to the parts of us that are desperately wanting to be seen but have no idea how to. (Or rather, not to be seen, but to do the very thing we want to do. Whatever that may be.)
Is it performing at The Orpheum or is it trying to figure out where we’re meant to go from where we’re standing. The point of it is, every step matters and every step equates to a victory, especially when it’s hard to or it doesn’t seem like we’ll ever get there.
“Stand Tall” is a reminder of the fact that even when it doesn’t seem like it, so many of us are on the same boat of uncertainties, and so many of us are looking for ways to get through the darknesses in our lives.
Listen to “Stand Tall” below and come cry happy tears with us in the comments.