HSM10: A Wildcat Retrospective


It was January 20th, 2006. A Friday night. The movie premiered and I was…I don’t know, probably playing my Wheel of Fortune CD-ROM game on the computer. Who knows. However, January 23rd, 2006 was bananas. School that day was not about the curriculum, it was about who had seen High School Musical. It hit the campus like a freight train, and we were in the 4th grade. Nothing had ever overtaken the school like that. When I went to my daycare after school, everyone actually had the time to dissect the film and all it’s parts. it was nuts.

I ended up watching it and falling in love with Sharpay Evans, Troy Bolton, and Taylor McKessie. The songs were great (I may have recreated “Stick to the Status Quo” at my pool many a time. “This is not what I want!”), the story was sweet, and the cast had some real shining stars.

What that first movie brought us wasn’t surpassed until Frozen, and even then, I’d argue HSM did it better. Theme park stage shows, live concert, an ice skating production, live theater productions, guest starring roles on other Disney Channel shows (remember when Vanessa and Monique recurred on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody?!)…it was everywhere. And us tweens appreciated it.

The 2nd film came out the following year (Also, kudos on the turn-around time, since I think that helped the obsession stay prevalent) and the craziness continued. I remember going to a viewing party at a friend’s house, and we already were singing every song. To this day, if someone asks me “What time is it?” I reply with “Summertime,” as if it’s burned into my brain.

It was a phenomenon that Disney Channel has tried to recreate, but never will be able to. Think back to the time from January 2006-October 2008 where the 3 movies premiered. It was complete madness. Everywhere you looked, every cast member was plastered on some sort of media. The songs were played everywhere. (Hollywood Studios doesn’t make me as happy as it did when “I Want It All” was being pumped in through the speakers)

Camp Rock, Let It Shine, Teen Beach Movie, Disney Descendants. All of these shared one goal: become the next DCOM sensation. While all have their pros and cons, nothing has been able to top the sheer momentum that High School Musical brought us.

Whenever I’m in a new situation, whether it be in a new class at UF, or in a new classroom at work, whatever the case may be. The great equalizer is High School Musical. A reference, a song, a line; it always connects people. I know it sounds cheesy, but the films also bring back my high school experience. Did I work at a resort and spa during the summer will all my friends, then dance in a junkyard with my bro? Of course not, but the friendships and songs bring back so many memories. “A Night to Remember” is the imaginary soundtrack to my Prom experience, while “High School Musical” is what I thought of while singing my alma mater at graduation.

It speaks volumes that not only did the franchise thrive during that 3 year period, but that it continues to thrive today. I hear current 2nd and 3rd graders talk about how obsessed with the movies and music. The amount of people who lost their minds at the reunion TV special announcement could start their own army. The movies also introduced a generation of kids, me included, to the musical. For that, I am eternally grateful. I would argue the medium wouldn’t be flourishing like it is without the films.

It still blows my mind that Disney hasn’t announced they are working on a new film. All the cast loves the franchise (Zac a tad less so, but I think he’d be on board for the right price) and Disney loves money, so why not bring it back?! High School Reunion is an obvious and warranted idea that needs to happen. The money wouldn’t stop coming in. The fans would be over-the-moon. It’s a no-brainer!

Tonight at 8pm on Disney Channel, they will be re-airing the film, along with a reunion of the cast. I know I will be watching with that same 4th grade fascination and adoration. WHAT TEAM? Wildcats.

(P.S. I still love you Drew Seeley)

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Marshal Knight
Marshal Knight is a pop culture writer based in Orlando, FL. For some inexplicable reason, his most recent birthday party was themed to daytime television. He’d like to thank Sandra Oh.