/ Index / Episode Guide / Culture Clash


Culture Clash

Written by David Wise

Jem and the Holograms are shooting their new music video in New York. The Misfits plan to make their stay there a disaster. But that doesn't seem to be necessary, since Fitzgerald Beck, their artistic video director, is quite a disaster.

Jem and the Holograms, The Misfits, Eric, Lindsey, Video, Anthony, Fitzgerald Beck, Maria Castello, Alex Falk, bartender, reporter, technician, presenter, police detective, policemen.

Locations & vehicles:
New York, airport in New York, limousine, Maria's nightclub, garbage boat, hotel in New York, Castello Gallery in New York, Misfits' hotel in New York, theater in New York, Fitz' studio in New York, Misfits Music.

"Surprise! Surprise!" The Misfits
"I Believe In Happy Endings" Jem and the Holograms

Part of songs:
"I Believe in Happy Endings" by Jem and the Holograms, "Surprise! Surprise!" by the Misfits.

Humor, Action, Adventure.

Original airdate:
22 February 1987.

Released on VHS. Released on DVD.

Italy: Aired on TV. The episode title was "Arte Moderna" (Modern art).
France: Aired on TV. Released on DVD. The episode title was "Vive La Culture" (Long Lives The Culture).
Holland: Aired on TV.
Venezuela: Aired on TV. The episode title was "El Debate Cultural" (The cultural debate).
UK: Aired on TV. Released on DVD.
Australia: Released on DVD.

Two sets in particular in this episode deserve a mention. These are quite different and cool designs, and each of Jath get their own matching version. Infact some of these seem to stand out so much in their design, that I'm surprised they later show up on only one character matched with completely different outfits for the others. Infact Raya who had not been introduced yet in this episode, got her own fashions to fit these sets later on.

If you like this episode, check out the Jem episodes with some similar themes and/or genres: Rock Fashion Book, Broadway Magic, In Search Of The Stolen Album, Hot Time In Hawaii, One Jem Too Many, Music Is Magic, Trick Or Techrat, Renaissance Woman, Journey Through Time.

David Wise was also a writer of alot of Transformers episodes at the same time as he wrote a couple of episodes for Jem, infact he wrote more Transformers episodes than anyone else on the original series. So the robots included in this story is likely a homage to Transformers. They may not transform, but most of them move around alot and have cool unusual functions that are more than oldfashioned stiff robots. He infact wrote a story also for Chip & Dale Rescue Rangers titled "Robocat".

In one scene we get to hear a part that is not included in the song "Surprise! Surprise!" by the Misfits, that says "wait till you see what's in store for you".

Although Fitz' work was supposed to be featured in the Jem and the Holograms music video "I Believe In Happy Endings", the only music video they do end up appearing in is the Misfits' "Surprise! Surprise!", even if not officially.

Maria's last name "Castello" is the italian word for "castle".

Airport, New York, music video, art director, limousine, conceptual art, TV, spoons, desert, explosion, night club, party, sculptures, robots, shoes, tire, toaster, gumball machine, the allseeing eye, grand piano, mallet, chainsaw, skyscraper, paint, garbage boat, sabotage, wires, remote control, cruise ship, steering wheel, control box, blankets, atlantic, gallery, guitar, plunger, iron, truck, warehouse, hand, trash can, chauffeur, present, giant robot, pie, mirrors, jack in the box, cobra, water hose, staircase, umbrellas, jester, playing cards, theater, diamonds, jewels, police, knock, running, studio, suitcase, NYPD, whistle, stopsign, loft, boxing, music studio, hand cuffs, bouncer, stage, spotlights, street, camera.


This is an episode of robots, jewelry, and art in many forms, set in the inner city of New York, and with alot of running and action. This is Jem, but expect anything to happen in this episode.

A flashy start of an episode, with Jem and the Holograms arriving at an airport to answer the questions of excited reporters, and photographers taking pictures. Jem and the Holograms tell us they are in New York to film their new video. This is not the first time they are in New York, since they also went there in the episode "Broadway Magic", where they were met by lots of reporters aswell. Infact it seems even the episode "Old Meets New" took place in New York since Eric referred to it as the east coast. Like in those episodes, The Misfits are again right there in N.Y. too. They probably arrived with the same plane, and like in "Adventure in China" and "Princess and the Singer" they don't get much of a welcoming compared to Jem and the Holograms. The Misfits, being the bad guys, plan to make Jem and the Holograms' stay in N.Y. a disaster, although it's not very obvious what they have in mind at this point.

If some of that seemed like a typical start of an episode, the rest is quite unconventional. Anthony and Video, who are friends, are both excited about Fitzgerald Beck and his art. Wise introduces us viewers to a conceptual artform. Watching this episode first as an adult, I'm very fascinated by what kind of art Fitz does, and curious what he planned to be the outcome of his Holograms video, and without even revealing anything to them in advance. But I guess the unexpected part of it is what caught Video's and Anthony's attention, and that's the excitement and charm of this episode.

Jem and the Holograms walk into a party Fitz is throwing at a nightclub, where we are supposed to understand more about what Fitz does. The reason Wise included a nightclub, may have been because his sister was a VJ at a famous club in New York called Danceteria (operated 1979-1986) around that time, well atleast that was the reason he included a nightclub in a Transformers script around the same time, according to this interview (offsite link).

There are lots of robots, infact about 21 of them, referred to as "sculptures", but most of them are actual walking/moving robots with legs, hands, faces or something like that. I would love to see the script for this episode because I'm not sure who created these actual robot designs, some are quite imaginative. And some, which are part of the story, must have been planned in detail by the writer. Did he even draw some directions for some of them? If you look attentively at the robots in particular, you'll notice that the animators certainly didn't just invent them as the story went along, but it's actually the same designs that keep appearing and looking the same throughout the entire episode, even in the Misfits music video. And this was as much as 12 episodes after Techrat had been introduced, and the last one pictured here kinda resembles one of Techrat's gadgets seen in the later episode "Trick Or Techrat". And although Techrat is an inventor and not an artist, Fitz surely did some inventive features aswell that are far before their time, and even today it would be impossible to recreate some of their functions.

It's kinda funny and out of character how Jem and the Holograms are critical to Fitz' art already from the start. It's like David Wise wants to build up the "culture clash" strongly from the start to show what a disaster their cooperation will be. Or is Wise making an injoke on conceptual artists through the voices of the Jem characters?

David Wise is a great writer, also known from series like the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, aswell as Transformers, He-man, Defenders of the Earth, My Little Pony, Rescue Rangers and what not. David Wise is a legend infact in that sense! I guess he was bound to do something extraordinary with Jem aswell. But this was his first Jem episode, and he didn't write it to develop the characters, but made them go on a somewhat unexpected adventure. He later wrote the episode "Renaissance Woman", which would seem even more unrelated to the career of the characters, even if they seem perhaps more in character there. But "Culture Clash" had scenes cut out, which I will get into in a moment, which Wise had no control over since they were cut out at the last moment, and in "Renaissance Woman" he was kinda forced to include an unused song he did not originally request to be made.

Next, we are suddenly taken to a scene where the music video filming is already about to start. This is actually quite a jump from night to daytime, and from party to work, without explanation. And since there were scenes missing somewhere in this episode, I can't help but to think this is one spot where one was. Jem is suddenly asking whether Fitz bothers to show up for anything, as if he has failed previously to show up. Fitz never did show up at the nightclub though, as far as we see anyway, and I feel there should atleast had been a scene at the party where Jem and the Holograms meet Fitz, or ask for him, and maybe are told to go to this location nex day. Anthony does introduce Fitz to Jem here, but that introduction could consist of added voice overs that were added later since there is nothing in the animation that corresponds with Anthony talking, nor with Jem and Fitz introducing themselves. A model cel has shown up of Kimber which looks like she is dressed to enter some kind of mine, maybe that scene went right before here. On the other hand, that model cel has a higher production number than the outfit that Kimber wears here, so the missing scene might have taken place later, but production numbers of model cels didn't always correspond with the order they appeared. Could a song had been cut out even? Because although we get the start of a song here, it doesn't actually fully play until much later, so there's no early song nearby in this episode.

Fitz reminds me a little bit of a young Andy Warhol. Much like Fitz, Andy Warhol was both appreciated and very critized at times. And maybe there's something familiar about his looks, but I don't know enough about Warhol's personality to compare that though. Perhaps Wise and/or the model designers had him in mind when creating Fitz. Perhaps Wise, or rather his sister, who was a VJ at Danceteria, even met Andy Warhol in that club at some point, since Warhol did visit Danceteria (offsite link) during those years, so maybe Wise decided to make a tribute to Warhol with Fitz? Just speculation. Sadly, Andy Warhol died of heart failure after recovering from a surgery, on the exact same day that this particular Jem episode first aired, February 22, 1987.

I looove all the craziness of this episode, like the garbage boat where Fitz thinks it's artistic for Jem and the Holograms to perform on. Setting up an episode with so many unexpected situations is clever, because it kinda makes anything possible, and it makes it easier to set up a situation that can get exciting, like when the Misfits are tampering with the boats' controls.

In a way, this episode reminds me of the setup of the episode "The Rock Fashion Book", where Jem and the Holograms are brought to several very different locations to take pictures for a fashion book and disasters happen. Nice views of the buildings in the background while they are on the boat, which reminds us they're in N.Y. And it becomes a scene where they are about to crash into a cruiser, much like the episode "Disaster".

I can't help but laugh with Wise' great humor throughout this entire episode, like the line "great art doesn't happen without suffering". Is that a quote from somewhere? It's just so good, but then again anyone who loves the Ninja Turtles for example, knows Wise is great at writing lines! He doesn't include humor in a noticable cliché way, but his subtle lines become funny because of how they are tied into the different situations in his scenes. And the voice actors really seemed to understand where he was going with the lines, so the lines came out perfectly. If I were an actor of any kind, I'd love Wise to write lines for me!

Eric is suddenly in N.Y., where he seems to have an office, and we learn he has no idea Fitz is doing a Jem and the Holograms video. I like how this story includes Eric by giving him his own reason to be in N.Y., which is that he loves the robot sculptures. We've seen art in Erics office in previous episodes, but apparently he's into more things than what's flashy or profitable to him, and infact has an actual interest, and artistic appreciation in these sculptures, which even overshadows his interest in the Misfits in this episode. Maria Castello and Alex Falk are giving away a whole lot of clues though to what they are up to, but of course that's for us viewers to get the clues. Even though Eric wasn't smart enough to catch the clues, Pizzazz certainly was. And Roxy knows just how a girls best friend sounds inside the sculptures, and of course we've seen in other episodes how much Roxy loves jewelries, like in the later episode "Roxy Rumbles".

Here starts the music video "Surprise Surprise" by the Misfits which a very clever Jem fan has found the missing recordings (offsite link) of, because this song was supposed to be longer! How they got the idea to cut in a song, I will never understand, especially since there were only two songs in this episode. Infact a longer music video was likely animated for this song, because there is also an unused animation cel of Jem that has shown up that seems to fit in this video. This Misfits music video is so crazy, even more full of all kinds of crazy scenes than regular Misfits music videos. None of it is a reference to what is going on in the story of the episode, neither the surroundings, outfits, nor actions. It's like all rules are off, even gravity. And with Ellen Bernfeld's talent and presence by making the most of delivering lyrics, going from high and low notes, this song becomes so extraordinary with it's kind of spoken and acted out lyrics.

Now it's time for Jem and the Holograms to perform at a theater, which I don't know why they are doing at this point, but maybe it's part of their music video, since robots are meant to move around on stage. But on the other hand it's advertised outside the theater like a show, so there must be a live audience at the same time. I'm surprised no one was hurt when the robots exploded on stage and the Misfits seem to have known no one would be hurt, or maybe they were willing to take the risk. Infact it was Stormer who activated them, not entirely in character for her to do that though, without being noticably pushed into it.

A hologram of Fitz is projected outside the door, which isn't possible without an earring being there. But then again, later on, there's a hologram of Eric which Maria appears to be touching, while holograms aren't supposed to be solid and touchable. Two hologram bloopers in this episode, but not very obvious unless you're very picky. These are the kind of holographic-rules that need to be broken once in a while in Jem episodes to get the most out of stories I guess.

Perhaps depending on what version you have of this episode, a scene is misplaced here, of shadows running down the fire exit stairs of Fitz' studio. Another view of the same building was supposed to be shown there instead, where there are no shadows shown running down those stairs, because Jem and the Holograms arrived at that point. Those scenes of Fitz' building from the outside, were just switched around.

Fitz falls in love with Jem it seems, and he confirms this later in the episode. And Jem then mentions there is someone else. But you can't blame him for trying, since Rio is actually Jerrica's boyfriend, and Jem has no official boyfriend. I like that there is atleast a reference to Rio. Although, I wouldn't have mind actually seeing Rio in this episode, a favorite character of mine. Infact even Jerrica isn't in this episode at all, it's infact the first episode in the series she is not in! But I don't consider it a mistake, since Christy Marx does it herself, excludes Jerrica entirely, just a few episodes later, and other writers do it afterwards aswell. And I'm happy that Anthony appears though, and this is his first appearance since Christy Marx's Starbright trilogy, and throughout the entire series he only ever otherwise appeared in episodes by Christy Marx and one by Roger Slifer (unless you also count being pictured in "Mardi Gras").

Jem talks about tracking down the Misfits, although Jem and the Holograms never met them in this episode other than in a music video. How do they know they are in N.Y.? Perhaps if they arrived on the same plane though. But there could had been a missing scene where they met, prior to this scene?

Jem figures out Fitz' sculptures can catch Maria, so they even take the chance to go back and risk being caught at Fitz' studio, just to get help by bringing some robots. This may not be a logical descision, but atleast it's fun seeing as much of these robot sculptures as possible in this episode, and having them actually take direct part in the action with alot of humor, and more realistic than having the robots suddenly arrive or activating themselves.

Why is Misfits Music suddenly located in N.Y.? Did the animators accidentally add the Misfits logo to a building that was supposed to be just a N.Y. studio? Then how did Jem and the Holograms know where to find them? Or is there a missing scene that explains it? Or perhaps Wise changed his mind and meant for them all to still be in L.A. at this point, and just forgot to re-write the beginning where they arrive in N.Y. Not sure why they needed to go to N.Y. anyway since there are no direct references to famous locations in N.Y. Other writers also went back and forth between N.Y. and L.A. in Jem episodes though, like Lindsey having a studio in N.Y. in "Broadway Magic".

Very clever of Jem, or the writer I mean, how he has Maria reveal where she keeps the stolen jewels. I love this kind of ideas. It's not a quick solution to end the episode, but very clever. Maria runs right to the jewels.

Maybe I should get this reference, but I don't, at Maria's club there's a female background character wearing a sign that says "In 1900 the end was near". On an unrelated note, I like the colorful style of the muscular guy that dances next to her. BTW, do you see the guy behind him, what a scary face, what's that all about?

Funny how that robot beats up the nightclub bouncer, it really gets going on him there, and the poor guy was just doing his job. And I really like the twist at the end of this episode, where Jem is arrested (reminds me of the episode "Frame Up"). When the robot that breaks the glass at the right moment, it's just wonderful and humorous in combination with Maria's interrupted line at that point. I absolutely love Wise's writing! And I hope his fans from the many other series he has written for, discover this gem of an episode aswell.

Fitz decides to quit the video, which made me laugh alot. It took all these events, and he at last decided to quit the video himself. He is just too funny to realize it at this point. Oh no, now I'm making fun of him too. Well, I like him as a character. And Jem does tell Fitz that she knows someone who thinks he's a genius, but... unfortunately we never find out who that in particular is. Was there an ending scene where Video, Anthony or even Eric met with Fitz personally and showed their appreciation, before the ending music video? Sounded like they were setting up for something like that. Or was there a female love-interest included in a cut out scene, that Jem introduced to Fitz in yet another cut out scene?

Jem and the Holograms finally get to sing that song of theirs that they tried so many times. Btw, very funny thing of Wise to do, have a song start and stop so many times before it actually plays, and the title now reveals to be "I Believe In Happy Endings". They sing it as a closure to the episode, with fitting lyrics at this point. But on the other hand it's never revealed why they are doing a concert at this point. But logically this became the recording of their music video in a more simple and ordinary way, and there are cameras there filming it. Poor Fitz, they could have included atleast one of Fitz robots on stage though, one of the safer ones.

Although they aren't among my very favorites, I like both songs of this episode, both are different for being Jem songs, and have their own special touch.

The repeat of the Misfits music video at the end of this episode, is cut slightly differently than in the episode. Infact both music videos were repeated at the end of this episode, which means alot was cut out of the actual episode to make room for that. Funny thing, both music videos of this episode were even re-used in later episodes, one in "The Fan" and one in "Mardi Gras" (still the cut version), so Sunbow or the other writers must have liked them alot, or they just fit in there aswell. Also at the end of this episode a superstar clip appeared, cutting even further scenes from the actual episode. I'm very sad they decided to cut in Jem episodes, especially one by Wise, and it was only because they decided to repeat music videos and include those superstar clips.

To sum it up, this episode stands out so much and I'm happy the writers were allowed to do episodes like this. Regardless what cartoon you are a fan of, I think you will find this entertaining, it needs to be watched!!! Who can come up with stuff like this?

This is the kind of episode I can always watch (and yes I do enjoy rewatching all Jem episodes quite often, is that strange?) whenever I'm temporarily tired of watching other Jem episodes, this is so over the top and hilarious it's just so relaxing to watch.

This is also the last episode before alot of changes happen in the series. Alot of time seems to have passed until the next episode, which is an episode written by Christy Marx to introduce alot of new styles, and even the roadster is replaced then. And in the episodes after that, Raya, Jetta and Craig are introduced. But since this is a standalone episode, there is no closure that suggests something new is coming up.

For fun stuff:

Beginning: It has scenes that sets everything up, before all the surprises and chaos starts.

Question: What is Wise trying to say with the art in this episode?

Best thing in the entire episode: The funny and clever robot designs, humor, and how it creates a whole new angle on Jem and the other characters.

Worst thing in the entire episode: Of course that they cut out stuff, which seems to have caused plotholes. Some characters were a little out of character, and some bloopers about holograms and Misfits Music.

New style: The matching outfits Jem and the Holograms wear on stage in the middle of the episode, are impossible to miss, very nice creations that stand out in their design. And this episode brings a feeling almost of a different dimension of Jem, and how twisting some things around can make an episode feel as it's own interpretation of Jem, which in this case seems to have alot of Wise-style to it.

Surprises: Well the title of the Misfits song describes this episode very well, it's all very unexpected and some you don't get even if you try. But a few twists stand out, like the situations Fitz' put Jem and the Holograms in (well we're even thrown into them as sudden that I think scenes were missing inbetween), how Eric likes art, Jem and the Holograms are a bit mean to Fitz, the wellwritten humor that is not always a big part of Jem episodes, and how wellwritten the secondary character Maria is.

Most exciting moment: Exciting and fun when Jem and the Holograms escape after being arrested.

What should be cut out: In this episode, full of strange stuff, it seems kinda unfitting to have such a common scene as Jem and the Holograms appearing on a stage with a regular performance. I think the Misfits didn't appear to their full potential, so I wonder if they really even needed to be in this episode, since we got a couple of other badguys anyway, and considering how much trouble Fitz is himself.

What else could it had done: Given Video, Anthony and Lindsey more reason to be there, and more screentime, but they probably had that before cuts. And what about the Misfits, yeah they do cause trouble, but why didn't they have more of a plan for themselves, sideplot? With all those robots, there could had been more of a Transformers connection, couldn't atleast one of them resemble an autobot? If they hadn't cut out scenes, we could had found out more why Jem and the Holograms are so negative about Fitz. A third song would had been nice of course. Would had liked Rio to be in the episode.

Biggest argument: Shana and the others getting irritated with Fitz, some of which is the Misfits' fault.

Best look: Got to be the Holograms in those new matching striped outfits in the middle of the episode, I think I prefer Kimber's and Aja's coloring. The Misfits got no new outfits in this episode.

Worst look: Never liked those outfits Roxy and Stormer wear while sabotaging the robots (although in 2021 they were released as doll fashions by Integrity Toys, which look great). But worst has to be the clothes and hair of Fitz, well it's not terrible, just in combination with his personality and all trouble with his art I guess.

Where could the Yeti or Rama Llama fit in: A yeti would seem quite strange even for this episode. But maybe a pink llama would fit in as another artdealer.

What character practically does nothing: I can't say the Holograms, nor Roxy and Stormer, does alot more than being helpful to their group.

This episode has alot of...: Robots, art, running, accidents, water, surprises, jewels, video directors, badguys, and artcollectors.

Someone should make a toy out of this: First of all, some of those robots, and a doll of Fitz, and the two sets of new fashions for Jem and the Holograms.

What character from another cartoon should be brought into a scene: Maybe the Transformers are too advanced compared to these robots, but how about the Gobots? They could just be there, in some scene and... do robot stuff and things.

What would Barbie had done: If anyone at Mattel even began to write an episode about this kind of conceptual art that Fitz creates, I can promise you they would be kicked out emmediately. The only kind of art that Barbie knows is makeup, hair and fashion.

Best mischief-award in this episode goes to: So clever of the Misfits to get Jem and the Holograms in trouble in a way that doesn't really make the Misfits suspects. Jem escaping with the Holograms from the arrest, and taking care of business by the help of Synergy.

Challenge for you while you watch this: Figure out who Jem was talking about when she said she knows someone who thinks Fitz is a genius, was it Eric, Anthony, or a possible love interest, Video? Find a logic or references for the scenes in the Misfits video. Find robots I missed on this page, and figure out what function they have.

How could Jem's identity had been revealed by mistake: She never transforms between Jem and Jerrica in this episode, so I guess, unless she had to identify at the airport going to N.Y., she was safe. She did create some risky holograms though that were touched and suddenly disappeared.

Animals: It looks like a snake in the Misfits video, until it turns out to be water hose.

Where could another song fit in: Hard to put one inbetween all the starts of the song "I Believe in Happy Endings".

Room for timetravelling somewhere in here: Well I bet they would had preferred to have this trip undone, because in the end Jem and the Holograms gain nothing from their trip and meeting with Fitz, other than the experience, adventure, and perhaps a new friend in Fitz.

Would it make any difference if the Holograms switched lines: Well Anthony is in here and Shana has a line about her neck that the other girls may not had said at that time, and Aja corrected Kimber about the Atlantic, otherwise they don't show alot of their personalities.

What made the series take a step forward or back: It feels like the craziness of this episode opened up for alot of posibilites and creativity in Jem episodes. No idea if any of the other writers were inspired or not. But just to see that Jem could have this kind of episode and already in the 80's was a big deal, where humor and surprises are taken to another level. It's just so much fun and different.

Ending: We see no Jem turning back to Jerrica even once in this episode. No resolution nor reaction from the Misfits and Eric when Maria is arrested. Ending with a song may seem a little cliché especially for this series, but it's fine at this point, because we've wanted to hear this song so many times now, three times, before we ge the full song at the fourth attempt.

Back to index