High School Musical, By Grace Bryant

Whenever you mention “High School Musical” to anyone, you get one of two reactions: loved it or hated it. A lot of people have negative things to say about HSM because it’s relatively cheesy and far too happy. But I’m a lover, through and through.
I vividly remember going to see the final movie of the trilogy in theaters with my best friend in elementary school. We loved it so much and knew all the songs by heart. I would like to make a case for the storyline on the whole and say that it is invaluable and kids can learn a lot from it because it is about a group of kids who push the boundaries of high school cliques and learn a lot in the process.
On Jan. 17, 2006, “High School Musical” premiered on Disney Channel. Little did the company know that this Romeo and Juliet-esque movie about the trials of high school in Albuquerque, New Mexico would get its own 10 year anniversary special.
Sure, high school in reality isn’t all happily ever after, but the writers of HSM did tackle some pretty real issues in reference to social stigmas as well as the stress that is college.
Here’s a breakdown:
Film One: The main messages of the first movie are to break the status quo and that you don’t have to run in the same social circles to get along. This idea is brought to life as the jocks and the brainiacs find themselves working together to pull apart the stars of their teams: Troy the basketball captain and Gabriella the brilliant new girl who could help win the Scholastic Decathlon. When Troy and Gabriella get a callback for a musical, their respective friend groups team up to pull them apart because they want to keep their social cliques separate and keep things as they are.

Although they are successful, it is soon apparent that they did the wrong thing. Of course everything works out in the end and everyone, including Sharpay, the meanest girl in school, sings and dances during a full cast rendition of “All in This Together.”
Cheesy, right? Yes, it’s cheesy and far too happy-go-lucky, but they make a pretty valid point in that first movie. They say that it’s OK to do something outside of what you would normally do, because everyone can learn something in the process.
Film Two: There aren’t very many positive things to say about the second movie, which starts with the kids complaining about the wonderful jobs that Troy managed them at a country club. The kids ignore the many bonuses of those jobs such as: they get to work with their friends, they get paid well (working at a country club is a job any high schooler would be overjoyed to have), they get two free meals a day, and best of all they have a job for the entire summer. But they all start complaining because the man in charge of them is rude to them on their first day. Suck it up Wildcats.
Film Three: The third film took on the stress of life after high school, and the pressures that come with senior year. Throughout the course of the third movie the main cast of characters are bombarded with the expectations of following in your father’s footsteps (in Troy’s case) or wanting to go to your dream school (all of the Juilliard hopefuls: Ryan, Sharpay, and Kelsi) or even deciding whether or not to accept early admission to Stanford (Gabriella’s situation).
Although it’s highly unlikely that they would all get exactly what they want in the end, which (spoiler) is what happens, they characters still experience tangible problems and legitimate stress–any senior would be able to sympathize with an issue presented in the third film.
So even though the series overall was cheesy and very “Disney” it tackled some legit problems that students face throughout the course of high school, which in my opinion makes it a series that shouldn’t be ignored or simply mocked.
Overall, HSM was an exploration of making the best of the situation you are in. “High School Musical” taught me a lot about some of the things that teens have to deal with in their last years of high school and although they only scratched the surface, they tackled these ideas with class and brought us an entertaining set of movies.


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