Is “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” Worth The Watch?

Julia Conant, Arts & Entertainment Editor

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With the release of Disney+ came two new original series. One of these shows was “The Mandalorian,” a highly anticipated space opera taking place in the Star Wars universe that became the most in-demand streaming series in a matter of weeks.

The other show? “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” You may know it as the show that produced the song, “All I Want” which has been trending on TikTok for the past month.

As someone who started watching the series only to make fun of how stupid it was, I was suprised to find out that it was actually good. Others feel this way too, as the series has earned a 79 percent on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer, while the original “High School Musical” only has 63 percent.

“High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” is a mockumentary-style show with characters making comments to the camera in individual interviews and sometimes staring directly into the camera during an awkward exchange embodying Jim from “The Office.”

It’s filled with romance, friendship and of course, lots of singing.

The show takes place at East High School, where the original “High School Musical” movie was set. A new theater teacher, Miss Jenn (Kate Reinders) gets hired and is appalled that East High has never put on a production of “High School Musical.” The show follows the students as they struggle to put on the best performance they can. Which is not easy, as much drama occurs behind the scenes.

Nini (Olivia Rodrigo), the girl playing Gabriella, and Ricky (Joshua Bassett), the boy playing Troy, are exes. But Ricky still has feelings for Nini. In fact, she’s the only reason he auditioned for the musical in the first place and Nini might be harboring some lingering feelings for him as well.

Nini’s new boyfriend EJ (Matt Cornett) is Ricky’s understudy, but he wants the role of Troy for himself. While another classmate, Gina (Sofia Wylie), is Nini’s understudy and wants the role of Gabriella as well. And honestly, Gina is more deserving of the role as she has more acting experience and is a far better performer in general. This results in EJ and Gina teaming up and scheming to sabotage Ricky and Nini to steal the leading roles.

So what is it about “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” that keeps people coming back each week? I believe it has everything to do with the actors. Firstly, the casting directors did a great job of actually hiring actors and actresses that are high school aged. This adds to the authenticity of the show, since you know that you’re not watching 30 year olds pretending they’re 16.

The actors also have genuine chemistry that shows through the screen. Rodrigo and Bassett are both songwriters in real life. They were given a chance to collaborate on an original song for the series, writing “Just for a Moment.” This was not only an opportunity to show off their musical talents but it was also a bonding experience, which is important for two actors whose characters are meant to be in love with each other.

However, the show is not without fault. There are still plenty of aspects to laugh at or criticize. For example, (spoiler warning) Nini gets invited to a prestigious acting school despite putting on an awful performance throughout most of the musical. Also, Miss Jenn lied on her resume when applying to be the new theater teacher, but didn’t get fired just because the students sang a song about how much they love her.

“High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” obviously isn’t for everyone. Viewers who haven’t seen the original “High School Musical” movie may not understand certain references or be as invested in the story. Also, people who hate musicals or romance may want to steer clear.

Is “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” worth the watch? If you like musicals, are a sucker for a romantic subplot or just like poking fun at cringe-worthy plot points, then the answer is yes.

Season one wrapped up on Friday, Jan. 10, and season two has been confirmed but doesn’t have a release date yet. You can watch the first ten episodes now on Disney Plus.