This past week, Disney released the final season of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” on Disney+ around the world. The show debuted with the launch of Disney+ in 2019 and is set at East High School, “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” introduces members of the drama club and their faculty advisers as they work their way toward the opening night of the musicals that they produce. New romances blossom, old friendships are tested to their limits while new ones are formed, rivalries flare, and lives are changed forever as these students discover the transformative power that only high school theatre can provide.
Season four sees the Wildcats returning to East High, where they prepare a stage production of “High School Musical 3: Senior Year.” But, in a meta twist signature to the series, plans are disrupted when Disney announces the long-awaited “High School Musical 4: The Reunion” movie will shoot on location at their beloved high school.
The show was so popular, it launched notable careers such as Grammy Award-winning artist Olivia Rodrigo; Tony Award-nominated Julia Lester; singer-songwriter Joshua Bassett, who recently completed a sold-out world tour; and Dara Reneé, who made her songwriting debut on the series and stars in the upcoming Disney+ Original movie “Descendants: The Rise of Red.”
Earlier this year, when the fourth season was announced, it was also confirmed that this would be the final season of the show and during a recent interview with Variety, the show’s creator Tim Federle spoke about why he decided he wanted the show to come to a close.
It was sort of half practical and half emotional. So the practical side was that this streaming era is a very different era of TV, and I felt like the cast and the crew have put four years of their lives into this show. What I didn’t want to have happen is to start producing Season 4, end on a cliffhanger, the show doesn’t come back and it’s just all sort of a bummer. The emotional side was that the vibes on set were so strong in Season 4. It was such a return to the vibes of Season 1, from the acoustic music to the genuine joy and joking around. We got past the COVID season, we had this summer camp palette-cleansing season. And I felt like maybe the way to go out strong is to go out when everyone loves each other. So I took the cast out midway through the season for dinner and said, “You’re about to get an email with the final script and we’re going to do the table read tomorrow. It is not just the season finale, it is the series finale.” We got to kind of own that together.
Tim also explained another reason why he wanted to wrap up the show after the fourth season:
I think that’s one reason we wrapped up the show, or why I wanted to wrap up the show, because how do you out-meta Season 4? I felt like at a certain point it dips into jumping the shark and being too silly, as opposed to what we have done which is to own the meta aspects while also being somewhat emotionally grounded.
Fans of the show were, as you might expect, upset that one of their favourite shows was coming to an end, but in reality, most Disney Channel shows rarely go beyond a third season for a variety of reasons. First off, actors get older. While most of the cast of the show were still old enough to go high school when they started filming, most of them are now in their early to mid-twenties! For many of the actors involved in the show since the first season, they’ve been working on this franchise for over six years, so it’s understandable that they might want to move onto other things. Though, the show maybe could have continued with a brand new cast as the current team could have graduated, rebooting an established show with new characters rarely works.
Streaming networks, and especially Disney Channel shows, also rarely go past a third season, due to the costs of creating shows vastly increasing, due to contract negotiations. Throw in outside problems caused by the pandemic and the actor/writer strikes, all of which didn’t help.
All four seasons of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”, along with the original film trilogy, are also available to stream now on Disney+.
What do you think of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” coming to a close? Let us know on social media!
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.