High School Musical: The Musical: The Series





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.

Not everyone’s on board. Teachers such as Mr. Mazzara think student musicals are a waste of time and that kids should focus more on academics. But the students are hyped.

That’s especially true of Ricky Bowen, a junior who only wants to try out as Troy to win back his ex-girlfriend, Nini. And Nini, well, she’s really into theater and has wanted the part of Gabriella for forever—even if her ex refuses to leave her and her popular new senior boyfriend, E.J., alone. And then, of course, East houses a whole bunch of other eager students who hope to snag the part of their dreams … at any cost.

It might seem like it’s all happy endings at East High, but there’s always a surprise around the corner. Besides, it’s not really a drama production without all the drama. Right?

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 makes a few comments about other guys. Outfits can be slightly revealing. Drama abounds in adult relationships as well as those of teens, and some marriages seem to be a little rocky.

But so far it seems that, even with those elements, the show will 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.

It’s like the High School Musical of days gone by, but with a twist and a bump from a G-rating to PG.

Episode Reviews

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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