Review by Camden Ferrell
High School Musical: The Musical - The Series first aired on Disney+ in 2019, and they are embarking on their fourth and final season. Created by Tim Federle, this was a show that was able to quickly cash in on some nostalgia and meta humor thanks to the popular 2000’s film trilogy. A show that started out earnestly and decently has slowly lost its charm and become an occasional cringe-fest that’s hard to look away from, and this final season continues this trend we’ve seen for the last few years.
Summer camp is over, and everyone is back at school. Their lives are changed in unique ways thanks to their experiences last season as well as the fallout of the documentary that was filmed about them. Their drama club is attempting to put on a stage production of High School Musical 3, but fate has other plans. Disney is filming High School Musical 4 at their school, and this greatly conflicts with everyone’s plans. Relationships are tested and changed, and these kids reconcile with their imminent futures. It’s the same stakes and drama you’ve come to expect from this show, so audiences should know what to expect.
From a writing perspective, the show is still rather weak. It definitely feels like fully grown adults trying their best to relate to young audiences, and it feels disingenuous. Awkwardly shoehorned Gen-Z phrases and forced pop culture references don’t ever let this show feel natural or relatable. Otherwise, the writing is just standard teen Disney+ fare, and it’s tolerable at best.
After a season of summer camp, most of the main cast returns to their original posts, and we see newcomers from last season remain in these characters lives. There are some notable omissions, but not many that weren’t already alluded to in previous seasons. The ensemble delivers performances on par with previous seasons for better or worse, not noticeably improving or worsening. Like past seasons, there are a handful of cameos for fans of the franchise, but it’s underwhelming and doesn’t make up for the cast’s shortcomings.
One thing I can credit the show with is appearing to have a steady and natural progression towards a conclusion for its characters. In its first 6 episodes, it’s nicely planting the seeds for all their characters to get a proper ending without rushing it unnecessarily. It shows planning on the part of its showrunners and writers even if it all feels far too predictable. I’ll also credit the show for leaning heavily into their more progressive aspects even if it can make an already unnatural show feel even more forced and pandering.
High School Musical: The Musical - The Series does not do anything to surprise viewers. You will likely feel the same way about this final season as you did about previous ones. Borderline unwatchable at times, but that’s to be expected at this point from the series. Guilty pleasure at best, but overdramatic teen cringe at worst, this season should hopefully give our characters a satisfying send off years in the making.
High School Musical: The Musical - The Series Season 4 premieres on Disney+ on August 9. Six out of eight episodes have been reviewed.