“High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” is nothing like the movies, but still a fun reboot

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Disney Channel, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons

Disney+ launched on November 12, 2019 and with that launch came new shows like "High School: The Musical: the Series."

Grace Cochrane and Joey Trella

As a kid, Disney was a household name for their original movies being huge hits. One of Disney’s best original movies, High School Musical, is still so popular that they made a “reboot” of it. Well, we wouldn’t call it a reboot per se. They made a show called “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” on their new streaming site, Disney+.

Here’s the idea behind the show: A new theater director comes to East High. She realizes the school has never put on a production of High School Musical which was filmed at their very own school. The two main characters, Nini and Ricky used to date during their sophomore year but ultimately broke up right before summer because Ricky wasn’t ready to say “I love you” to Nini who said it first. During the summer, Nini went off to theater summer camp and met EJ who is a grade above them and is usually in a starring role in theater productions. 

The new school year starts: Nini and Ricky are juniors and EJ is a senior. EJ and Nini are now dating which makes Ricky upset because he told Nini he just wanted a break, not a full-on break-up. The theater director, Miss Jenn, holds auditions and everyone who has been a part of the theater crew before is also there. We meet a sophomore transfer student, Gina, who honestly is quite full of herself and believes she’s better than anyone who auditions. The auditions happen and in true TV fashion Ricky, who hates musicals, runs in late and auditions. Miss Jenn decides to take on the underdogs because what musical hasn’t? Nini who has been in the background for past plays lands the leading role of Gabriella and Ricky gets Troy. Then the show starts and each episode following is about the progress of the play, tension between Ricky and EJ over Nini and more. 

There are a few things that stuck out to us that are different than the usual Disney Channel norms. Disney just started stepping out of its comfort zone with “Andi-Mack” when one of the characters came out as gay. This was a big step for Disney and it was only last year this happened. The reason we point this out is that Nini has two moms meaning her parents are lesbians/bi (their identity has not been shown yet) but for the main character to have two moms was an even bigger step for Disney.

Disney is starting to show more realistic families today than they ever had before. Right off the bat, they show Ricky’s dad telling Ricky that his mom isn’t coming home from Chicago because the parents are going through a rough patch. It makes us think that they are about to get a divorce and we don’t know a show that represented a family like that before. 

The fact that the first episode showed kissing (not just a peck) is very non-Disney and a big shock to me. ”

— Grace Cochrane

Another thing that stood out is that the show is directed like The Office. Each character at least gets the camera panned to them at once and they can look at the camera like when Jim looks at the camera when Dwight says something completely wrong. This style is effective because it gives the viewers an insight into what a character is thinking about at that moment. 

Lastly, it doesn’t follow the unspoken Disney Channel rules. For example, most shows are not allowed to have swearing but a stage crew character swore (it was, of course, bleeped out) but it was acknowledged. Kissing and intimacy are very rare on Disney Channel as they only show it in special episodes or they build up to it when a couple is hugely shipped. The fact that the first episode showed kissing (not just a peck), which is very non-Disney and came as a big shock to me. 

Overall, the show is not anything like the actual High School Musical movies. Disney has already stepped out of its own norms within the first two episodes and the show has been renewed for a second season. Overall the show is worth watching, and I, personally, can’t wait to watch the next episodes every Friday. You can watch “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” on Disney+.