'High School Musical: The Musical: The Series' & How It's Way Better Than Expected

In March of 2016, entertainment news was sent into a frenzy when Disney executives officially announced that High School Musical 4, a continuation of the iconic trilogy, was set to be made and air on Disney Channel. Even though no details of the project were given along with the announcement, at the time, it set off a mix of emotions for the community who grew up on the franchise and its memorable soundtracks. The valid concern with the reboot, coming from someone who adored the original movies heavily, is the idea that it would ruin the world of the Wildcats that was so known and loved. Luckily, the people over at Disney seemed to understand that perspective. In 2018, it was announced that a movie set in the same universe as the original films was no longer the direction Disney wished to go in, which is when High School Musical: The Musical: The Series was born.  

The Disney+ original series centers around the student body that attends Salt Lake High School East in Salt Lake City, where the made-for-TV musical hit was shot. We are first introduced to Ricky: a high school junior, who can easily be coined as the Troy Bolton of the series, a guy with little to no experience in musical theatre, who makes the decision to audition for the school play in hopes to woo his ex-girlfriend, Nini, back. (Cue immediate investment!)  Meanwhile, it takes a deep dive into the personal lives and struggles of the East High Leopards in a very self-aware, mockumentary style; it's intentionally ironic and humorous as they prepare to stage a live production of High School Musical: The Musical. What is now being referenced as a Glee meets The Office experience, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series encompasses what all three High School Musical films had: love triangles, heartfelt moments that are guaranteed to tug at your emotions, and of course, catchy original music. 

The genius behind this concept is that it’s acknowledged that these kids are not the Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efrons of the world and that they’re not trying to be. Instead of trying to squeeze a new set of actors into what people would say was already a perfect conclusion to the story of the Wildcats, Disney made a choice to pay homage to one of their most successful franchises in Disney Channel history in a witty, realistic, clever and admirable way.  

It is inevitable that when even the tiniest whisper of a reboot for something as classic as High School Musical is mentioned, there is immediate push back and disapproval. For a lot of us, it set up pretty significant memories and moments of our childhood and the thought of that being touched can be quite disturbing. However, I see it as a perfect way for a new generation of kids to experience a part of how great High School Musical was to so many of us. Meanwhile, the show still sneaks in little winks and inside jokes to original lovers of the movies, who, let’s be honest, were expecting it to be unbearably corny and cringey. Truthfully, some scenes have their moments, but that’s what gives it that true Disney heart. Frankly, I was anticipating only to watch one episode and dip, but what can I say? I’m hooked. 

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