In the words of Jan Sport on an episode of the podcast Las Culturistas, the girls are girling. We are now three seasons into High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and the show has never been more confident in itself, its ideas, and its characters. This is especially telling as this season takes a big risk by sidelining a good chunk of its cast and introducing a bucket of new characters. Yet, it all works. It works so gosh darn well.
After a full school year following the East High Drama Department, it’s time for summer vacation. Some stay behind the tend to the farm (Seb, I miss you so much already. Please visit your boo at camp soon, you recurring character, you!), some go on road trips with the fam, but most head to Camp Shallow Lake. Billed by EJ as his second home, the crew head to theater camp to enjoy each other’s company and scratch their performing itch.
Everyone is at the top of their game comedically, with Frankie Rodriguez (Carlos) and Dara Renee (Kourtney) operating on another level. There’s a lot of talk in the culture right now about the half-hour comedy and how there’s a lack of consistent capital-J “JOKES,” but these two heard the call and are delivering.
The new characters all feel warranted and not shoveled in, as sometimes Disney+ and Disney Channel shows are known to do (Looking at you, season 4 of That’s So Raven). Maddox, Jet, Duey, and Val all are adding something to the chemistry between the OG Wildcats and the overall energy Camp Shallow Lake is providing.
The biggest surprise in the first three episodes given for critics is the amount of Nini we were given. While Olivia Rodrigo, understandably so, has gone into a recurring role, we see a lot of her to kick off the season. She also provides a killer song that immediately jumps into the all-timer club.
Speaking of, this season is firing on all cylinders when it comes to originals. The covers are great (The arrangement of the Frozen auditions is silky smooth), but the originals in the first three episodes are out for blood. They said “I’m giving budget” and I am over-the-moon.
If you’re a Laughing Place reader, you know that HSMTMTS and I go hand-in-hand. It is not only my comfort show, but something I watch to live out my out and proud high school drama fantasies. As someone who went to a school without a drama department and was deeply in the closet, I never got to experience the thrill of a cast list going up or the joys of getting cast alongside a beau. That being said, if the show ever goes down in quality, I’m the first to speak out because of my passion for the characters and stories presented.
Heading to Camp Shallow Lake was a risk and a semi-reset for a show that didn’t necessarily need one, but it is still able to shine. Season 3 is in great shape and I can’t wait to roast some marshmallows and dive into more Wildcat shenanigans. Once a wildcat, always a wildcat…even if school is closed for the summer.