I’m just gonna come right out and say it:
Zac Efron, you stole my career sir! It should’ve been me as Troy Bolton in High School
Musical. We both dance, act, and sing…except one
of us doesn’t need autotune *cough cough* who performed as kids, we were born less than
a year apart, and we can rock the short and the long hairstyles. And look at that steely gaze! We are EXACTLY the same! We are MOSTLY the same! Hello internet, welcome to Film Theory, the
show that encourages viewers to getcha, getcha, getcha, getcha head in the game, if the game
is reinterpreting beloved franchises. If you’re not onto it by now, you probably
don’t even Disney Channel original movie, bro, because today’s episode is all about
High School Musical. That’s right, here on Film Theory, we only
tackle the freshest, hottest movie series that haven’t had an installment in nearly
a decade (unless you count Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure, which I obviously do). When I was still acting in theater, I was
in a big regional production of High School Musical as Troy’s understudy, and that gave
me plenty of time to overthink the plot. Inbetween bouts of icing our vocal chords. I mean this kind of thing was my life when
I was a teenager: musicals, theater, show choir. You name it, if there was a chance to perform
onstage and not have to interact with popular people, well boy howdy was I involved. And after spending so much time studying the
show, I’ve ALWAYS had a bone to pick with HSM. Well, a few bones to pick because there’s
no way Juilliard is really going to send acting scouts to a random public high school in Albuquerque
to watch a show written by a student. Anyway, the movies bend over backwards trying
to convince you that Sharpay, the quote-unquote spoiled, rich, theater diva is the villain
of the story…but she’s NOT. In fact, when you stop and actually look at
the series, Sharpay is the ONLY one with redeemable qualities. You hear that Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron! Your empire of fame is built on LIES! Lies I say! Think it’s just a chip on my shoulder? Well let’s look at the evidence and “Bop-bop-bop,
bop to the” bottom of this case. Now in case you need a cram session before
this High School Musical final exam, here it is in a nutshell. In the original High School Musical, our heroes
Gabriella and Troy meet when they do karaoke together at a New Year’s Eve party, conveniently
finding out shortly thereafter that Gabriella is transferring to Troy’s school. She’s a science nerd who wants to find a
new place for herself at this school, and he’s a star basketball player who wants
to find a new place for himself in Gabriella’s pants. On a whim, they decide to audition for the
high school musical…oh I get the title now! Even though they’re rejected for being too
late and don’t prepare anything, they get a callback for the lead roles. This doesn’t sit well with Sharpay and her
twin brother Ryan, who are the diehard members of the drama club…which, now that I’m
writing it out, when the villain of your movie is supposedly a THEATER KID, you should already
be asking questions. Oh no! They’re going to shame me with their BOX
STEPS! Don’t you do that in my direction! Oh they’re pulling out the viewpoints! She’s commenting on my stance! Sorry the theater kid is coming rushing back to me! Anyway, Sharpay and Ryan convince the drama
teacher to move the callbacks to the same day as Troy’s basketball championship and
Gabriella’s scholastic decathlon. Troy and Gabriella’s other friends think
they should choose between the activities they’ve already committed to or this musical,
but NAH, they’re the hot protagonists in a made-for-TV Disney movie, so they don’t
and Troy and Gabriella win everything, including the leads in the musical, the decathalon,
and the last shot of the basketball game. Wow, growing up is so difficult when you’re young and beautiful. High School Musical 2 is pretty much the same
thing but over the summer and with a country club talent show instead of a musical, and
High School Musical 3 is pretty much the same thing as HSM 1 but now they’re seniors and focused
on college. Got it? Good. So what makes Sharpay the villain? Well, ask anyone who knows these movies, and
their arguments fall into one of three camps: 1) She’s a diva who won’t share the spotlight;
2) She’s trying to steal Troy away from Gabriella; and 3) She’s a spoiled rich girl
who expects everything to be handed to her. That’s what these movies want you to believe,
but if you actually stop and objectively look at her actions across these cinematic masterpieces,
you see that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Complaint #1: Sharpay is a diva who won’t
share the spotlight. Very early in the first High School Musical,
we establish that Sharpay is super mean. Just look at this conversation: “Oh, were you
going to sign up, too? My brother and I have starred in all the school’s
productions, and we really welcome newcomers. There are a lot of supporting roles in the
show. I’m sure we can find something for you.” Okay, there’s definitely a tone issue, but
let’s think about what she’s actually saying. She isn’t discouraging the pretty new girl
from auditioning — in fact, she even says that they WELCOME new people into the club,
going so far as to say there are lots of roles, so she’d be likely to get in even if Gabriella’s
a complete newb to performing on stage…which, let’s not forget, SHE ABSOLUTELY IS. This girl is so inexperienced she freezes
up at the freaking audition: “I can’t do it, Troy. Not with all these people staring at me.” Oh you can’t do it can ya? Well, it’s not like people are going
to be staring at you if you’re the lead character in a musical or anything? Sharpay is definitely full of herself to assume
she’ll be the lead, but then again, no one else signs up to audition FOR the lead. We see the sign up sheet. And even if they did, look at the other talent
she’s had to go up against! East High… Not quite the strongest arts program. And yes, at first, it might seem underhanded
that she convinces Ms. Darbus the theater teacher to change the callbacks to the same
day as the basketball game, but Sharpay is just testing Gabriella and Troy’s resolve
to see if they’d really be committed to the show. Because let’s face it, Gabriella and Troy
have other activities, other friends, and each other; what else does Sharpay have besides
theater and a brother who wears stupid hats? Now, the idea of testing their commitment
may seem absurd, but her fears are well-founded: In High School Musical 3, Troy actively ditches
out of the first act of his senior show so he can drive to visit Gabriella when she’s
away at another school. Troy Bolton just sent me a text. ‘Been driving all night. I’ll try and get there for the second act. Break a leg’ Break a leg? What does that mean? Dude, I think it’s showbiz for ‘you’re
going on’.” “Yeah guys, sorry for completely trashing
the months of work we put into this thing…I had to go make out with my girlfriend. Don’t worry, I’ll be there to grace the
show with my six-pack abs in the second act” But let’s not forget, a true diva would
rather not be a part of the show at all instead of playing second fiddle to someone else. Well in NONE of the High School Musical movies
does Sharpay get the glory, but she comes around in all three! After Gabriella gets the lead in High School
Musical, Sharpay is cast as her understudy but still congratulates her and tells her
to break a leg. “Well congratulations… I guess I’m going to be the understudy in case you can’t make one of the shows, so break a leg.” And we find out in the beginning of HSM 2
that Sharpay even gave Gabriella vocal exercises that helped her in the role. “Sharpay we got off to a rough start, but you really came through. I mean you helped me with the winter musical. Those vocal exercises…” That’s…surprisingly gracious for someone
who is supposedly so egotistical. Now look at the end of that movie: Sharpay
and Troy are slated to sing together at the country club’s talent show. Her brother Ryan and his stupid, STUPID hat betrays
his sister by giving Troy a new song to sing with Gabriella so that Sharpay can’t participate
in the one thing she was hoping for the entire summer. So what did she do? Instead of making a scene or wrecking the
show, Sharpay recovers, chooses to sing as part of the group, wins the Star Dazzle Award
as best performer, then GRACIOUSLY gives the award to the brother who just stabbed her
in the back! “And this year’s Star Dazzle goes to…of
course…my brother Ryan Evans.” And at the end of High School Musical 3, when
Sharpay isn’t chosen for one of the scholarships to Juilliard–even though her brother is and his stupid hat is–we learn that she’s going to help run the high school’s drama department the following
year, a role for which there will be zero glory. Sharpay is just committed to making her school’s
drama program great. She always wants to be the star, but are we
really faulting someone for wanting to be the best? A true diva wouldn’t let anyone near her
spotlight, and clearly Sharpay is still along for the ride even if she isn’t getting all
the glory. Complaint #2: Sharpay is trying to steal Troy
away from Gabriella. So perhaps a bigger sin of Sharpay’s is
that she has goals to date Troy who is (sometimes) happily in a relationship with Gabriella. So what nefarious deed does she do to win
him over? Does she kiss him? Push Gabriella off a cliff? Drug him and shave off that mop of hair so
she can swim deeper into his cool blue, winter crystal eyes? NO! Sharpay’s evil plan is to get Troy a job
at her family’s country club, get him promoted so he’ll be paid better, and then also introduce him
to members of the University of Albuquerque basketball team so that he’ll have a better
chance of getting a scholarship the following year. “What a shame that Troy is only washing dishes all summer given that he is a potential star for Alma Mater daddy.” “The Red Hawks would be very interested in him.” “Troys very concerned about college.”
“Really…? How’s coach Bolton these days?” How DARE she? And what insane favor does she ask of him in return? That he perform with her in a talent show… “She’s basically offered you a college education just to sing with her in the talent show.” which, it probably should be mentioned when push comes to shove, he doesn’t do. Meanwhile, let’s look at what some of the
“good guys” do back at High School Musical 1: In order to get Troy and Gabriella’s
heads back into the game, their best friends trick Troy into saying he doesn’t care about
Gabriella in front of a hidden camera and then they force her to WATCH IT! Who’s the bigger villain: the person trying
to win over a guy in a relationship by being nice to him, or the people using hidden cameras
to break up their friends’ relationship when it doesn’t serve their needs? But oh, it’s okay for them. But Sharpay’s actions are unforgiveable? Yeah… I don’t think so. And complaint #3: Sharpay is a spoiled rich
girl who expects everything to be handed to her. Now, the rich part is right: Throughout the
High School Musical movies, we learn that Sharpay’s family owns a resort and uses
a private helicopter. But expecting everything to be handed to her? Nothing could be further from the truth. In the straight-to-DVD classic, Sharpay’s
Fabulous Adventure, Sharpay moves to New York City to try to make it as an actress, and
her doubting father gives her one month to make a career for herself or else she’ll
have to return home. Does Sharpay kick and scream about it? No, she actually goes and tries to make the best of it, and tries to network with a director who voiced interest in casting her. “I’m going to meet with that casting director, get the part, be a star, and have a palace.” And when she finds out that director was actually
interested in casting her dog and not her, sure it sucks, but she seizes the opportunity
and gets hired as the personal assistant to the star of the show, who then makes her run
errands all night and scrub toilets. Does Sharpay refuse and resolve to destroy
the star’s career? No, once again she recognizes that getting an in with
someone in the industry is how people get a shot in show business, so she does all the
star’s menial chores…THEN destroys her career. The point is, across all four installments
of the franchise, Sharpay gets knocked down time and time and time again…losing the lead
role, getting betrayed, not getting into the college she wants, getting passed over for
a dog…but she never once gives up on what matters to her, she never stops believing in herself, “What about your dream of being a star.”
“It’s still there.” “It’s just a little bit more of a dream than a reality.” and she’s even gracious enough to help others out like Gabriella and this weird snooty kid with a performing King Charles Spaniel in Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure. By the end of the series, she gets the satisfaction
not only of coming out on top but also of doing it entirely on her own. And that my friends the most noble, hero-esque arc we
see from anyone in the whole series. Zeke had it right all along: “If you actually
get to know her…” And the heroes of these movies don’t even
let him finish talking about keeping an open mind to a fellow classmate…well done Wildcats. Well done. “That’s all well and good MatPat” you’re probably saying right now. But HSM needs a villain… So who then IS the villain? Well, you’re in luck, because the series
does have someone who is truly spoiled, someone who doesn’t deserve the things they have
coming to them, and then is ungrateful for the opportunities that come their way. It’s none other than the six-packed, autotuned
wonder, Troy Bolton. I mean, it starts all the way back in the
first movie: When the time comes for Troy and Gabriella to audition, they chicken out,
and only gather enough courage after it’s too late. “We take these shows very seriously
at East High. I called for the pairs audition and you didn’t
respond. Free period is now over.”, but apparently
not seriously enough since Ms. Darbus hears them singing and gives them a callback anyway. “Bolton, Montez, you have a call back.” And if you want to talk about someone who
won’t share the spotlight, look no further than Troy Bolton in High School Musical 2, when Troy is invited to play pick-up basketball with the players on the University of Albuquerque’s team,
an opportunity I should mention he only gets thanks to Sharpay. His friends on his high school team ask to
go and Troy doesn’t even consider it before he refuses. “Hey hey, Bolton, come on!”
“Hey! Why don’t you tell them to come over here and mix it up?” “Show em’ some game.”
“I don’t think that’s how they roll. It’s a closed practice.” “But we can play two on two after work…?” Just flat-out ditches them. Speaking of being a bad friend, he breaks
pretty much every promise he makes to his girlfriend Gabriella in HSM 2, then uses Sharpay’s affection
to get more money and access to people who can help him out “An entire table of university boosters are coming to see you… THANKS to me!” “So I’ll be their waiter, they’ll be thrilled.”
“Troy, Troy this could change your life!” “I’m more interested in what my friends think of me.” All in return for singing a song in a talent show
with Sharpay that he acts like is a huge chore the entire time and ultimately doesn’t deliver on. “You’ll sing some other time though… With me. Promise?”
“Promise.” Well sorry, Mr. Swoopy Bangs, didn’t mean
to give you an opportunity to pay for the college you say you can’t afford. “Troy’s very concerned about college.”
“Really? How’s coach Bolton these days?” “Oh, fantastic!”
“Outstanding” “Next time I see country club princess I’m gonna launch her and her pink car straight into the lake.” “Build the ramp buddy.” Speaking of that job, Troy spends most of
the movie worried about money, but then spends most of his time at the job getting others to completely
ignore their duties. “I’m sorry I’m late Mr. Fulton.” Or just slacking off with his friends:
“Mr. Fulton this was my idea she had nothing to do with it.” “I generously overlooked your previous break violation, but then came the golf course incident.” “And now… this. Two strikes.” It’s a JOB! You gotta do your job to EARN the money. You’re going to have to earn your way into that college, Troy! Or maybe you don’t…because life hands
Troy Bolton whatever the eff’ he wants. At the end of High School Musical 3, it’s
announced that Troy will attend UC Berkeley because he chooses “basketball…but I’ve also choosen theater”. Yeah, Troy? Are they letting you play basketball at Berkeley? Who did you Coach father have to pay off to
let that one happen? Because THAT’S a big time, Division I sports
school — which, for everyone who doesn’t talk sports translates to, these guys are
SERIOUS about their athletics. In the 2017-2018 college basketball season,
no starting player on their team is shorter than 6 foot 3. Zac Efron is 5 foot 8. He is shorter than me! Which begs the question: How is Troy Bolton,
the theater-basketball double-threat able to manage that? Could it be because things just get handed
to him? His spot on the basketball team, his job at
the country club, and let’s not forget that he never even formally auditioned for the
show in the original High School Musical! If you’re looking for somebody to hate,
maybe look away from the hard-working rich girl and look more at the popular kid who
always gets whatever he wants whether he deserves it or not. I guess good things come to those with abs….I’m
gonna go do some crunches. But hey, that’s just a theory. A Film Theory! Annnnnd… You know, as hard as I tried I couldn’t
figure out how to prove that High School Musical was in the same universe as Breaking Bad (even
though Gabriella is a science whiz who has been moving every year and might be being
chased by the DEA or Gus Fring’s daughter or something; hey, if you can make an air-tight
connection, let me know because that would be the best theory ever). High School Musical is the prequel to Breaking Bad? In the meantime, hit the subscribe button to ensure you get more theories sent to your door that will ruin your childhood. You can bet on it, bet on it, bet on it…bet
on ME! And if you want MORE Disney ruined for you,
check out how Moana and Maui are secretly related…along with her pig. That’s the box to the left! Now if you’ll excuse me, I do really need to do those crunches.

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