By Elly P. ’21
On the day Disney Plus was released, I saw a tweet saying that “you don’t love Disney, you just haven’t been happy since you were 11.” While I personally don’t find this to be true and sincerely hope that you, dear readers, don’t either, it does speak well to the absolute glorification of Disney. “We miss the old Disney,” write countless nostalgia themed Instagram accounts; “Suite Life on Deck was released 108962 days ago…feel old yet?” they inquire. Within this absolute adoration for all things Disney Channel, the High School Musical trilogy reigns supreme. While my data is perhaps anecdotal rather than scientific, I can vouch that of the twelve people I asked about this issue across multiple grades and schools, all but one eagerly told me of their love for the HSM movies. Nora Estrada ’21 gave what may be her hottest take when she admitted that “I just think [High School Musical is] stupid … I don’t get the hype.” With the obsession of the movies in mind (albeit with the exception of Nora), it comes as no surprise that with the release of Disney Plus came a spin-off mockumentary entitled High School Musical: the Musical: the Series.
Following the “real” students of East High, the school where the original movies were filmed, the show documents (mockuments, if you will) the trials and tribulations of a journey to perform the stage version of the first High School Musical movie. The show was renewed for a second season before the first was even released, and I firmly believe that this choice was correct. Although only four episodes have been released at the time of writing, I can say that there has been nary a dull moment in the show given its descriptor tags including “romance,” “romantic comedy,” “drama,” and “music.” The romance and romantic comedy tags can be attributed to the love triangle Ricky (Joshua Basett), Nini (Olivia Rodrigo), and EJ (Matt Cornett) find themselves ensnared in. The drama is easy to find, as the show is based around a group of high school theater kids—the show absolutely plays into stereotypes about how theater kids act, with cutthroat battles for roles and a surprisingly large amount of pick-pocketing. And the music? If I were a chef, I would dramatically kiss my fingers in celebration of it.
As with all spin-off series, not all agree with my reverence for the show. As Thomasina Hare ’21 says, “Why tarnish the iconic name of HSM with a series that could never live up to the originals?” Of course, there is a point here: Disney spin-offs rarely are very good (Girl Meets World, I’m looking at you!), but HSMTMTS sets a higher standard of excellence for future spin-offs. Bis Macenka ’21 agreed, saying “[HSMTMTS] is the show of the decade; Ricky is the perfect character, with a good back-story and the voice of an angel”. Sadie Golen ’20 confessed a similar love for the show, but highlighted the chaotic name: “High School Musical: the Musical: the Series is just so long and unwieldy. It doesn’t roll off the tongue.” Perhaps this critique is true, but if readers are willing to look past the unfortunate name, they will find an enthralling experience of a TV show.