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Series / High School Musical: The Musical: The Series

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-"I've seen the original movie thirty-seven times. And the first 15 minutes of both sequels."
- Carlos
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Okay. Everybody knows High School Musical; it was the film series that set a template nearly all Disney Channel Original Movies since have attempted to emulate. It was a huge success for the network, and launched many careers. BUT, what if we have a show set at the school where the films were set, about the kids of that school staging their own version of High School Musical? Hence, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (yes, we know, it's a mouthful), a Disney+ original series. In this somewhat meta-piece of work, East High School, the inspiration for the fictional school in the films, puts on a stage adaptation of the original film.

Unlike the original High School Musical, which was set in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this show acknowledges that the real East High is located in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is shot on location there.

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Before the series debuted, it was renewed for a second season that will be about the students of the school performing the Beauty and the Beast musical.


Tropes

  • Arc Words: "Trust the process," which is uttered several times throughout the show.
  • And Starring: As always, given to the token adults in the cast: "with Mark St. Cyr and Kate Reinders".
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Nini and Ricky have known each other since they were in, at least, kindergarten. They didn't start dating until sophomore year of high school.
  • Colon: Cancer: See Long Title below.
  • Cross-Cast Role: Seb Matthew-Smith, who is male, is cast as the female Sharpay in the musical.
  • Dark Comedy: "My mother bounced back from an autopsy."
  • Darker and Edgier: While not overtly so for obvious reasons, being on a streaming service allows for more mature storytelling, though not to any particularly extreme measure.
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  • Faux Documentary: The show relies on Talking Heads, continuing the trend of mockumentary series such as The Office (US), Parks and Recreation, Modern Family and the like.
  • Gay Guy Seeks Popular Jock: When describing E.J. to Ms. Jenn, Carlos laments that he doesn't know he exists.
  • Has Two Mommies: Nini has two moms.
  • The "I Love You" Stigma: Nini writing a song about how she loves him and posting it online is what prompts Ricky to want to take a break. His reaction is clearly a result of seeing his parents' dysfunctional marriage slowly falling apart at home.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Andrew Barth Feldman and Roman Banks will be guest stars in season 2; they were both in Dear Evan Hansen together, making history as the youngest Evan and first Black Evan, respectively.
  • Kubrick Stare: E.J. has a killer one that he uses at Ricky throughout the latter’s audition.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The pilot's opening scene tricks you into thinking Disney+ has stalled, when it's actually Ms. Jenn watching the original film on her phone.
  • Local Hangout: Students and faculty alike tend to frequent Publik Coffee, a Real Life Salt Lake City coffee chain, outside school hours. (The location shown onscreen is about a ten-minute drive from the East High campus, or about an hour's walk. Ironically it's the farthest location in the chain from East High - there's one just a ten-minute walk from the campus, west along 900 S.)
  • Long Title: The fact that it has a colonized title after another colonized title is an indicator that this show will not be taking itself seriously.
    • The behind-the-scenes special takes it even further: High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: The Special.
    • This seems to be a Running Gag regarding material related to the series. The behind-the-scenes series is titled High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: Extra Credit, the sing-along version is titled High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: The Sing-Along, and the OST is titled High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: The Soundtrack.
  • Love Triangle: One of the central plots revolves around Ricky, his ex girlfriend Nini and her new boyfriend E.J.
    • E.J. is pretty much gone from the equation by mid-season... just in time for Gina to enter into it.
    • In the season 2 premiere, Gina is shown giving Ricky longing looks when looking at him and Nini being lovey dovey.
  • Missing Mom: Ricky's mom travels for work a lot as a way to get away from her loveless marriage. She was gone both in the six weeks ago flashback and in the present, and it is unknown if she returned home between them. Ricky's comments about his father's cooking abilities indicates that this may be a more recent development, however.
  • Mockumentary: The series takes on this tone, as the creator and show runner was inspired by Waiting for Guffman. In-Universe, no real reason is given for why a documentary crew might be filming them, and the characters - many of whom are underage - seem to have no problem letting the cameras follow them into very intimate places, including their own bedrooms and the school bathrooms.
  • Playing a Tree: Nini had always done roles like this or the back of a cow, with this being her first starring role so she’s extremely excited about it.
  • Precision F-Strike: The use of "crap" and "hell" throughout a couple episodes prove that we ain't on Disney Channel no more.
    • In the original trailer, Natalie says, "Buckle up, Wildcats. Sh*t's about to get real." When it aired on television, it was changed to "...it's about to get real." The censored line appears in the Disney+ version.
  • Product Displacement: Surprisingly averted, and not just for the benefit of Disney-owned brands. In particular, Instagram (owned by Facebook) is mentioned by name in every episode.
  • Rearrange the Song: As expected, the entire original HSM catalog gets revamped alongside new songs performed especially for this series.
  • Self-Deprecation: The show openly acknowledges that a sports star also being into musical theater being some huge shocking idea was already kind of silly when the franchise started, and no one at all finds it the slightest bit unusual anymore.
  • Show Within a Show: The High School Musical series is in-universe for this show.
  • Tempting Fate: Lampshaded by Nini in the pilot.
  • The Ghost: The character of Ryan in the musical. He's definitely there and someone was cast as him, he appears during 'Stick to the Status Quo' and is featured on the in-universe poster for the musical, but we never quite learn who was cast as him and his role is significantly reduced to a non-speaking, non-singing prop for Seb's Sharpay. In Real Life, the performer who plays the student cast as Ryan is primarily a dancer and cannot sing. (This creates a fun irony in that Lucas Grabeel, the original Ryan, is usually regarded as the strongest singer among the cast, and indeed Grabeel returns for a Remake Cameo in which he sings co-lead.)
  • Two-Teacher School: Miss Jenn and Mr. Mazzara are the only teachers seen with any regularity. Both also appear to be the only teachers of their respective subjects (Drama and STEM), and considering East High has an enrollment of 2,000, they must both have very packed workloads.
  • Truth in Television: East High's real mascot is indeed the Leopards, not the Wildcats, as depicted in the films.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Ricky's mom decided to invite her boyfriend to the show without telling him as a surprise which didn't work out to say the least
    • The boyfriend came in the middle of Ricky's big moment causing him to freeze, drop the ball, mess up the dance, and leave the stage early.
    • Ricky finds out that a recruiter for a school Nini wants to go to is there but don't want to mess it up for her so he gets his understudy E.J. to replace him.
    • Ricky doesn't tell Nini in time so she gets surprised seeing E.J. on stage instead who is her ex and doesn't have any chemistry with due to not practicing together.
    • This causes her to mess up big time in front of the recruiter and the show goes downhill from there.

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