This week, Disney debuted High School Musical: The Musical: The Series on its new streaming service, Disney+. But the new show is a big step away from its previous incarnation thanks to a long list of woke characters and progressive plot lines.
When the original series debuted in 2006, it was a different era. Sure, political correctness was in full blossom, but it had yet to bleed into every last kids show like it has today, and when the Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens vehicle hit screens, it was a traditional boy-meets-girl story with peppy songs, well-choreographed dance numbers, and tried-and-true teen angst.
This week, though, the new updated version that dropped on November 12 was chock full of transgenderism, female empowerment, protests against the “patriarchy,” and LGBTQ themes.
The pilot, entitled “The Auditions,” introduced high school junior Ricky (Joshua Bassett) and his ex-girlfriend Nini (Olivia Rodrigo). Viewers discover that Rickey dumped Nini during the previous summer after she professed her love for him on Instagram. But as school begins, Ricky is regretting his decision after seeing her with another boy, E.J. (Matt Cornett).
Ricky decides that he wants to win Nini back, and to do so, he sets out to win the lead in the school’s stage production of High School Musical. Naturally, he wins the lead male role setting the stage for the series.
So far, so good. But the episode quickly sets its PC table by deviating from the flavor of the original series.
In the first ten minutes, one of the first woke characters is introduced in the new series when viewers meet Nini’s friend, Kourtney (Dara Reneé), who encourages the show’s star to dump Ricky. Kourtney is portrayed as a sassy black teen who is a self-professed “feminist.” Kourtney also proceeds to tout “intersectional values” and the importance of dismantling the “patriarchy.”
Two gay characters are also introduced — or at least two prototypical effeminate school drama class characters are seen, anyway. One such character is the school’s drama class choreographer Carlos (Frankie Rodriguez), who is so excited for the stage show because he has seen the movie “37 times.”
Even more to the progressive plot is Seb (Joe Serafini), a teenage boy who decides to audition for a girl’s role because it would be “so fresh” to do. The Daily Beast celebrated the transgender character as a “queer-positive joke and message.”
Series creator Tim Federle complimented the new generation’s wokeness and explained away his need to pump the series full of progressive ideals citing the bravery of the “Parkland Generation” and teen climate high priestess Greta Thunberg.
“I don’t think it’s that much of a reach, in that we are living in the Parkland generation – and thank goodness we are,” Federle told The Daily Beast. “I think Greta Thunberg is rewriting the rule book on climate change because she’s certainly not seeing the grown-ups do it. And I think that if there’s any statement I’m trying to make with the show, it’s that you should always count on the theater kids, which is really a proxy for anyone who feels disenfranchised individually. But when you group up together, you can sort of David-versus-Goliath the whole world, one stage at a time.”
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