The Complete History Of The Real Ghostbusters, The Animated Series You Probably Forgot About

In the late 1980s, ABC was keen to compete in the kids market, and the network wanted to make sure it was getting the most out of its cartoons. Execs turned to the Q5 Corporation, a consultancy firm that used cold, hard data to inform marketing decisions. They decided that Janine was not child-friendly enough, and the character got a major overhaul. Initially, the Ghostbusters’ secretary was presented in a very mature way, with decade-appropriate hair, pointy glasses, and a feisty attitude. Come Season 3, gone were her sharp glasses and more angular hair, replaced by a softer and more gentle design. The new design was “warmer” according to Jennie Trias, ABC’s vice president of children’s programs, but not everyone agreed with the changes.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in 1987, story editor J. Michael Straczynski said that Q5 wanted them to “knock off all the corners” when it came to Janine’s look. “Janine was a strong, vibrant character. They wanted her to be more feminine, more maternal, more nurturing, like every other female on television.” He went on to call Q5 “a truly insidious organization” and accused it of making tone deaf decisions. “I think they reinforce stereotypes — sexist and racist. I think they are not helping television, they are diminishing it.” Straczynski has not softened his stance over the years. In 2018, he went into more detail about Q5’s overhaul of Janine in a tweet, claiming that the character’s iconic pointy glasses were axed because the firm’s research showed that sharp things scared kids. “I said show me your data. They fell back on High Priest logic, PhDs etc.”

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