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HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE MUSICAL: THE SERIES, Season 2 review of Episodes 1-3

There are two types of people in the world, those who haven’t indulged in the gloriously acronymed HSM:TM:TS whilst browsing on Disney+, completely fallen in love with it and binged the entire series including the behind-the-scenes special, and those who are missing out. And I say that with genuine sincerity. What could have been a terrible show ended up being a knowing nudge and wink at its own ridiculousness, lampooning and satirizing modern high school dramas, musicals, Disney fans and so much more.

And so, when the opportunity crossed my (socially distanced, working from home) desk to watch and review the first three episodes of season 2 I couldn’t say no.

For those not in the know, season 1 ended with our group of high schoolers putting on an impressively successful version of High School Musical, and season 2 picks up just after it finished its run as the kids are about to enjoy a well-earned Christmas break. These being fictional drama kids of course they spend the holidays wondering what show they’ll be performing next semester, all assuming it’ll be the sequel, but instead being shocked to find out it’s going to be Beauty and the Beast (yes, that does mean this season’s acronym is the stupendous HSM:TM:TS:BATB and I love it). And so, once again we begin the process of auditions, rehearsals and impromptu musical numbers.

There are a few big changes here compared to early season 1, the main being the fact that our leading lady – who secured herself a spot at drama school last season – is now living there. I suspect I won’t be the only person to wonder whether the forced distance between she and her male romantic interest and co-lead is due to their fairly public break up. Remember that song ‘drivers license’ that was everywhere last year about how Olivia Rodrigo’s ex dumped her for someone else and she still loves him? Yeah, this is her, and he’s the ex. Drama. It’s all a bit odd, the two share barely any scenes in the same room together, and instead rely on copious amounts of FaceTime instead (how very 2020). Maybe this was all part of the original plan for the season, but I’m doubtful.

Photo Credit: Disney+/Fred Hayes

Of course, much of the fun of season 1 came from the drama amongst our core group of characters, but at this point they’re great friends. Not a single one has been rejected, is having a fight, nothing, so the show looks for its drama elsewhere. The trailer made it out that an opposing school was going to be a continual villainous entity throughout the season, but by the end of what I’ve seen there’s not much to write about. I’m hopeful they pull it off well, as some good inter-school drama is always a classic, but as of yet I can’t say either way.

On-screen and off-screen drama notwithstanding, everything you loved about season 1 (and you did love season 1 right?) is back here with aplomb. From the absolute bop of an opening number through to the belter of a true Disney classic that closes episode 3, the music is excellent. They’re clearly spacing out the Beauty and the Beast songs as they did with HSM last season, and I am incredibly interested to see what they do with one in particular, because this show is no stranger to turning things up to 11. There’s plenty of original songs in here too, and they hold up too. Obviously they’re not Menken and Ashman level, but they’re fun.

Photo Credit; Disney+/Fred Hayes

Let’s be honest, there wasn’t much of a chance that I wouldn’t like this, and I very happily sat and powered through the three episodes Disney provided without a care in the world. Yes, this show is hokey nonsense, but this show loves the fact that its hokey nonsense and what that allows it to do. Over-the-top, utterly unrealistic characters whose narrative arcs just make no sense if you think about them are the name of the game, and it’s a game which I will gladly keep playing once the rest of the episodes drop.

HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE MUSICAL: THE SERIES, Season 2 premieres on Disney+ on May 14th 2021.

Do you plan to watch the series? Let me know in the comments!

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