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Arts & Entertainment 'HSM' series defies expectations of cringe

‘HSM’ series defies expectations of cringe

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“High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” is a lovably wholesome and quirky show with a unique take on the trend of rebooting movies and shows. Instead of remaking or continuing the story of the “High School Musical” movies in an effort to pull in nostalgic viewers, the show takes a meta approach that pays tribute to the movies in a fun way. 

“HSMTMTS” is one of two non-scripted original Disney Plus shows. The series is set at East High School, where most of the “High School Musical” movies were filmed. The series covers the school in a mockumentary style as its theater department puts on its first production of “High School Musical: The Musical.” The show also follows the typical teen drama of the musical’s cast members as they prepare for their performance. 

Fans of the movies might be hesitant to watch the show due to fear of it ruining a childhood classic, but this show is aimed at original fans of the movies as much as it is those who grew up after the “High School Musical” craze. 

There are subtle references and hints to the movies throughout the first two episodes that fans will notice. These allusions usually aren’t too obvious and over the top to avoid being cringy. The show does poke fun at the movies a few times, but in a way that would make any good-natured fan laugh.

The show’s mockumentary style also contributes to its self-aware tone and helps to set it apart from the movies. Scenes with individual characters talking directly to the camera help add depth to personalities that usually are not present in shows aimed at teens. 

Another relief upon watching the show is that the characters aren’t complete replicants of the original characters. They each have unique personalities that might be somewhat reminiscent of the movie characters but aren’t too similar to be seen as remakes. Main character Ricky may be a boy who auditions for the musical without any past interest in theatre, but he’s not a clone of Troy Bolton. 

Like in the movies, the characters act like teenagers, but without being exaggerated Generation Z stereotypes that are seen too often in media. Importantly, most of the actors that are supposed to play teens are actually teenagers or at least look like it, which is uncommon. 

The new cast of characters also brings more LGBTQ representation than the original movies. There are two gay teen characters in the show, and  one is cast in the traditionally female role of Sharpay. One of the main characters, Nini, also has two moms. It’s nice to see LGBTQ characters fit in seamlessly in “HSMTMTS” given how the movies refused to acknowledge Ryan’s sexuality.

Being a show about a musical, the music is an important part of the show that fits into the plot and isn’t painful to sit through. Unlike in the movies, characters don’t dramatically burst into song for no reason. Instead, the songs are usually kept to being part of a rehearsal for the musical and are acknowledged in the plot. While most of the music has been from the movies, the one original song so far was impressive and shows potential for the series to have its own unique music. 

Defying expectations of a series created to profit off nostalgia, “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” is a witty take on a childhood favorite that both old and new “HSM” fans will enjoy. 

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