High School Musical: The Musical: The Series

Cast of High School Musical the Musical The Series

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Kristin Smith

TV Series Review

Ever heard of a little thing called High School Musical? Sure you have, with Vanessa Hudgens as the academically gifted Gabriella Montez and Zac Efron as the athletic Troy Bolton. They both try out for a musical. They both get the leading roles. They both fall in love with each other.

It used to be a pretty big deal, and it made both Hudgens and Efron big-time stars. But students at East High School, the birthplace of High School Musical, have long forgotten about the whole thing. Until they’re reminded by a new, quirky, slightly crazy drama teacher, Miss Jenn, who comes along with her aspiring assistant, Carlos, and a masterplan to revive the beloved musical.

The musical was a success, naturally. But high school theater programs can’t rest on their laurels. For the spring show, Miss Jenn has bigger fish to fry—in some ways literally.

See, Jenn’s old boyfriend, Zack, is back in town, directing the theater program for rival North High School. And given that he played a starfish in the Broadway production of The Little Mermaid, he’s bringing the production to North in search of a prestigious state theater award. “The high school musical Canon is not going to get us the gold,” she grumbles, and she dives into a production of Beauty and the Beast instead.

But Nini, who played Gabriella in Miss Jenn’s first production, may be on her way to a prestigious arts program in Denver. Nina’s boyfriend, Ricky, is reeling from a number of massive life changes. E.J.’s already focused on college. Really, the whole drama department is filled with …  drama.

A Musical Isn’t a Musical Without All the Stuff

I imagine that when Disney+ unraveled High School Musical: The Musical: The Series they thought themselves quite clever. And if they didn’t, they should have.

This very meta, high-school focused series is like a mix between the mockumentary style of The Office, the vocal talents of Glee and the drama-filled moments of Riverdale, all without the hyper-salacious content.

But though the content is nowhere near Riverdale status, it still exists in this PG-rated show.

In the first episode, “h—” is used once and the s-word is bleeped out, though it’s clear what’s being said. High school relationships exist, as does flirting, kissing and general moments of affection. Carlos, Miss Jenn’s drama assistant, is gay and is now in a relationship with a guy named Seb, . Outfits can be slightly revealing. Drama abounds in adult relationships as well as those of teens, and some marriages are a little rocky. (One couple legally separated in Season 1.)

The show is closer to Glee than it is to the original squeaky clean High School Musical, which will dismay many a fan. But still, , the show does aim to stay lighter than most these days. There’s no murder, no overtly risqué behavior on screen (yet), and no overarching darkness pulling at the plot.

Episode Reviews

May 14, 2021: “New Year’s Eve”

As Ricky glories in his rejuvenated relationship with Nini, she ponders how to tell Ricky that she’s leaving Salt Lake City and East High School for a prestigious program in Denver. Meanwhile, Miss Jenn is set on producing High School Musical 2 for the school’s spring production. But when she encounters an old flame—one who’s leading the drama department of a rival school—she changes her mind.

Three couples take center stage for the episode: Ricky and Nini, who kiss on occasion; Ashlyn and Red, who exchange their first official kiss at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve; and gay couple Carlos and Seb, who don’t kiss but who are wildly affectionate with each other. (Carlos also sniffs at the thought of “straight guys in theater”.)

Given that it’s the Christmas season, we see several ugly sweaters and secular Christmas displays. One character wears a Chanukah sweater, graced with a menorah, that contains the phrase, “Get lit.” Students gather for a New Year’s party but—in a welcome departure from form regarding most teen parties on TV—there’s no booze present; a latecomer even totes in a case of Shasta soda. One character says that she’s “screwed,” but that’s the only thing even close to profanity here.

Nov. 12, 2019: “The Auditions”

Juniors Nini and Ricky break up at the start of a new school year. Ricky plans to get Nini back by auditioning for the part of Troy in High School Musical. Nini auditions to be Gabriella but hopes that her new boyfriend, E.J., will get the part of Troy instead of her ex.

In a flashback, Nini flirts with and kisses Ricky. Later, she kisses her new boyfriend and looks at his shirtless picture. Ricky makes a joke about guys who willingly wear tights. Carlos, a gay drama assistant, wishes to be noticed by a fellow male student. A female teacher flirts with a young male student. A few girls wear slightly revealing tops.

Ricky’s dad hints at divorce with Ricky’s mom. Nini gets mad when her boyfriend doesn’t say “I love you.” Other moments of drama ensue. Nini’s best friend, Kourtney, gives a speech about fighting for feminism. Ricky jokes about his stinky feet.

The s-word is bleeped out and “h—” is used once.

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Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).

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