REVIEW: ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,’ Season 2, Episode 1 – “New Year’s Eve”

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HSMTMTS Season 2 - But Why Tho?

The wait is finally over as the HSMTMTS Season 2 premiere, “New Year’s Day” has aired. The previous season saw several students of East High put on a production of High School Musical, with the help of HSM fanatic Miss Jenn (Kate Reinders). Nini (Olivia Rodrigo) was stuck in a love triangle between Ricky (Joshua Bassett) and EJ (Matt Cornett) but ultimately chose to get back with Ricky. Ricky was able to land the lead role in the play but also had to deal with his parents’ divorce. The first season culminated in the cast putting on a great production of the play and Nini getting the news that she had been accepted into a performing arts high school in Denver.

“New Year’s Eve” opens with the cast flying high after a successful opening-night performance. The entire cast gathers at Ashlyn’s (Julia Lester) house for a New Year’s Eve party. While shopping for costumes that will be used in their next production, Miss Jenn and Carlos (Frankie A. Rodriguez) run into Miss Jenn’s successful ex-boyfriend, who happens to work at East High’s rival school as the theatre teacher. Her ex-boyfriend mentions that their school is competing for a prestigious art award, which inspires Miss Jenn to do the same with her students. While at Ashlyn’s party, the kids are waiting for Miss Jenn to announce the Spring musical and Nini struggles to tell Ricky that she’s moving to Denver.

After watching “New Year’s Eve,” it’s clear that the chemistry between the cast has been fully solidified. The interactions they have with one another in every scene are incredible. For instance, the scene that Rodrigo and Bassett share towards the beginning of the episode is full of immensely great chemistry. They’re able to play off each other very well and make their characters’ affections towards one another believable. Another great scene was towards the start of the party between Carlos and Seb (Joe Serafini). They’re one of the show’s most captivating and authentic couples, which makes it easy to root for them. The scene also included one of the best lines of the show: “I’m Mexican and gay, this is my inside voice.” I look forward to many scenes with Carlos and Seb as the season progresses.

The Season 1 finale of HSMTMTS left off with a major cliffhanger of Nini being accepted into a performing arts high school in Denver. “New Year’s Eve” focused heavily on Nini struggling to tell Ricky the news. It makes sense that this plot point would be included in the Season 2 premiere, but there were times where it felt like it dragged on forever. It built up the suspense so much that by the end of the episode, any worry about the situation disappeared. The news should have been broken in the first few minutes of the episode so the remainder of the episode could focus on the fallout. Having to wait another week to see how both Ricky and Nini deal with everything is disappointing.

It was already known that Season 2 of HSMTMTS would not have its cast put on a production of HSM2. Instead, the cast would be adapting Beauty and the Beast, an Alan Menken musical. While it is disappointing that fans won’t get to see the sequel be adapted on the show, deciding to include a new musical brings opportunities to branch out. Being familiar with the second High School Musical film’s plot, it’s not hard to imagine that the show would end up having similar scenarios as the first season. Performing Beauty and the Beast is a good step in the right direction, since it can lead to many possibilities in terms of casting. However, it was great to see “New Year’s Eve” include several songs from HSM2. The nostalgic feeling of seeing those songs performed made this episode much more special.

Ultimately, “New Year’s Eve” is a strong premiere for HSMTMTS Season 2 due to the solidified chemistry between its cast and with the show deciding to include Beauty and the Beast as this season’s musical. However, the episode choosing to drag on the focus on Nini trying to tell Ricky the truth was disappointing. So much more could have been included in the episode had the conversation happened earlier. However, it’s hard not to be overjoyed that the show is back for another season and the many directions the story can be taken.

HSMTMTS Season 2 is streaming now on Disney+ with new episodes airing Fridays.

HSMTMTS Season 2, Episode 1 - "New Year's Eve"
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

Ultimately, “New Year’s Eve” is a strong premiere for HSMTMTS Season 2 due to the solidified chemistry between its cast and with the show deciding to include Beauty and the Beast as this season’s musical. However, the episode choosing to drag on the focus on Nini trying to tell Ricky the truth was disappointing. So much more could have been included in the episode had the conversation happened earlier. However, it’s hard not to be overjoyed that the show is back for another season and the many directions the story can be taken.