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‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series’ season two: An early review

| Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Claire Reid | The Observer

Okay, yes, I like HSMTMTS, and all I want is for that to be okay.

Season two of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (HSMTMTS) will be streaming on Disney+ starting May 14, and it is set to drop the name of the spring musical for the Wildcats along with the start of a whole lot more drama for the group of theater kids that took over the Disney franchise. After a sneak peek and watching episode one of season two, HSMTMTS looks promising in developing characters, relationships and storylines.

I, for one, am appreciative the plot will center around a different musical other than HSM. (Spoiler alert: it’s Beauty and the Beast.) Less HSM substance means more original songs — which have already been bangers based on the releases of “Something in the Air” and “The Perfect Gift” (*heart eyes*) in December — and more of a focus on the characters the series gives us.

Forget the outside drama of the show between lead actors Olivia Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett, the two are still on-screen romantic interests, with Rodrigo playing Nini and Bassett playing Ricky. Season one ended with Nini and Ricky back together and ready to celebrate Ricky’s first, if a tad impractical, theater performance.

But, we left with a cliffhanger — Nini wanting to accept an invitation to a different high school. The first struggle will be a send-off between our two leads, but with the logical thought process of HSMTMTS plots, let’s assume they say a tearful goodbye, facetime tons and then Nini moves back to Salt Lake City and all is well.

Since we spent more than enough time on Nini and Ricky’s relationship in season one, season two serves as the perfect opportunity to build up relationships between the other characters. First up, we have Big Red and Ashlyn, who shared their first kiss in the extra scenes of the season one finale. Then, there’s Carlos and Seb, the first out gay couple written into the HSM franchise storyline.

Frankie Rodriguez, who plays Carlos, the dance choreographer and sidekick to drama teacher Ms. Jen, said the experience to serve as this representation is rewarding.

“To be the representation I didn’t see as a kid and get to now do that and just have a whole new generation of not only kids but like adults who have reached out and said thank you for what you’re doing — it’s just so exciting and it’s very touching,” Rodriguez said.

Seb is played by Joe Serafini, who broke out as Sharpay in season one. Serafini agreed that the characters’ stories reflect real experiences young students endure today.

“It’s really just being honest and not really taking it too seriously but honest storytelling and just seeing those characters …  find out how to be their most authentic selves,” Serafini said.

There’s also the option to ship E.J. and Gina, who I predict will be together, because why not?

Meanwhile, it looks like Kourtney, Nini’s best friend played by actress Dara Reneé, will be auditioning for the musical and exploring her musical talents.

“I feel like, season two, we really push for me to have my own individual storyline and to focus on me growing as a person and Kourtney finding her own way without having to be the support of someone else,” Reneé said.

Kourtney’s storyline serves as a reminder that the friendships between her and Nini, Big Red and Ricky, Gina and Ashlyn and really the whole cast should be celebrated more than they are and not put on the back burner to focus on the romantics of high school love.

Oh, and Dancing with the Stars legend Derek Hough is introduced as Ms. Jen’s new rival down the street at North High, because everyone needs a little competition to push them to new heights — and sporadic decisions.

Let’s just say I am here for the feelsy songs, electric returning cast members, cringe “Bachelor”-style confessionals, Beauty and the Beast content, lots of drama and awkward relationships. But I’m not here for what Nini does at the end of episode one. Tsk, tsk, I am still upset. Ricky deserves better after his epic speech at the end of season one.

P.S. — can we get another song from Matt Cornett please? Season one did him dirty with “A Billion Sorrys.”

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About Alysa Guffey

Alysa is a sophomore pursuing a major in history with a minor in journalism, ethics and democracy. While she calls Breen-Phillips her home on campus, she is originally from Indianapolis. She currently serves as the Notre Dame News Editor.

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