Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last ten weeks, you know that High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is a new Disney+ spinoff of the original High School Musical films. The first season’s finale just started streaming on Friday, and fans were left very satisfied but begging for more.
HSMTMTS follows a group of drama students who attend East High. The kids’ new drama teacher, Miss Jenn, is appalled that East High, where the High School Musical movies were shot, has never put on a production of High School Musical, so she makes it her first theatre project.
Underdog Nini is cast as Gabriella, while fellow underdog and musical theatre newby Ricky is cast as Troy. At the beginning of the series, Ricky’s motivation for the part is to win back Nini, his ex-girlfriend who’s dating usual leading-man E.J. Ricky’s motives start to change the more he and his fellow castmates become a family, as Nini starts to question her recent decisions.
Throughout the season, the show introduces fresh, new characters and storylines, while referencing and imitating iconic parts of the original classics.
For myself and many others, what makes HSMTMTS stand out the most is the mix of new and original movie music. From “Wondering” and “I Think I Kinda You Know” to “Breaking Free” and “Get’cha Head in the Game,” the cast nails the songs we all know and love while winning us over with their catchy new tunes. Olivia Rodrigo (Nini) and Joshua Bassett (Ricky) even co-wrote an original song for the series: “Just for a Moment.” The songs are definitely a hit, having been streamed millions and millions of times on Spotify and YouTube.
Speaking of the cast, the casting of HSMTMTS needs to be applauded. Most of the cast are true teenagers instead of adults, which is something that many high school-aged shows tend to veer away from. The audience is left feeling the authentic performance that only a teen, who may be going through some of the same problems as their character, can exude. Whether that problem is parents getting a divorce, dating drama or moving away, HSMTMTS tackles very real problems in a way Disney has never truly done before.
Another part of the show that makes it stand out from other Disney works is that it is filmed in a mockumentary style, somewhat like The Office and Modern Family. The series has interviews with the characters throughout and even some close up shots of characters addressing the camera, helping to give a new feel to the High School Musical franchise.
Unlike hour and a half long movies, the TV show has more time to explore the storylines of different characters, so fans are invested in more than just a few main characters. In addition to the characters, the ten or so actors that share the majority of screen time have garnered tons of fame, as children and teens alike have flocked to their social media accounts to see behind the scenes content and keep up with their daily lives.
HSMTMTS has effectively jumped off the screen and into reality through social media. Thousands of TikToks have popped up to the sound of “All I Want,” a song from the show. Snapchat stories have been filled with pictures of people excited to watch the series. Twitter exploded when it was revealed that a critical scene in the finale was somewhat improvised. HSMTMTS’s presence on social media has helped the series explode to even more popularity.
The final episode pulled together everything viewers wanted to see while still leaving some things up in the air for the next season, like fancy musical theatre school offers and questions about moving. Fans will need patience, as filming for season two has not yet started, but it will surely be worth the wait. The 11 years since High School Musical 3 definitely were.