Corbin Bleu pushes the Wildcats to their limit as Camp Shallow Lake’s first Frozen read-through defrosts the drama on High School Musical: The Musical: The Series 3×04, “No Drama.” This mid-season episode tests the theory that love is an open door and reaffirms that Disney Channel history is fabulous.
The latter comes in the episode’s opening number — High School Musical 2‘s “Fabulous.” Carlos and Kourtney, aka the Finer Things Club, restructure the remixed song as more of a duet than Sharpay did with Ryan. The framing of the song’s appearance makes it all the better; it’s supposed to be a surprise for Corbin Bleu.
That purpose creates an organic parallel to the film franchise; Sharpay’s performance ends when Troy Bolton and the other Wildcats — including Bleu’s Chad — arrive at the Lava Springs Country Club. HSMTMTS‘ second rendition of “Fabulous” lets a new generation put their touch on the iconic musical number while paying homage to the original.
It’s exciting that “No Drama” delivers the musical number the pool’s mere existence encourages with color schemes Sharpay Evans would approve of and choreography another generation (Mine!) will have in their bones forever because of the HSM cast’s dance-along.
Beyond those details, there is a significance to the date on which “No Drama” debuts on Disney+ — August 17, 2022. That date is exactly 15 years after High School Musical 2 premiered on Disney Channel in 2007.
The coincidence makes Bleu’s appearance in “No Drama” sweeter because the years between HSM 2 and HSMTMTS contribute to the exaggerated character’s jaded personality. It’s comical to watch Bleu tout the importance of a villain in the documentary while he forgets every camper’s name, shows limited interest in his job, and wears all black.
Corbin Bleu’s disposition makes Joshua Bassett‘s easygoing energy as Ricky Bowen all the more amusing as Ricky repeatedly tries — and succeeds — to hug Bleu. It’s a delightful way to include Ricky’s bucket list and visually represent the tension between Corbin Bleu’s pessimistic adulthood and the Wildcats’ optimistic youth.
The campers’ vibrance and unity perfectly juxtapose Bleu’s lone-wolf persona, making him the ideal person to flip another camera onto their not-so-well-hidden drama. Of course, the delicious irony is that the drama would reveal itself eventually — with or without Bleu.
For example, the camera will find Ricky’s jealousy because it’s getting harder for him to hide, which is a good thing. The last two seasons have seen Gina pine for Ricky, so it’s crucial that Ricky finally confronts his feelings for her. A good love triangle’s success translates via the viability of each pairing, and “No Drama” tests that theory.
EJ and Gina dial up the miscommunication trope as EJ’s pressure to live up to his father’s obscene expectations creates a larger wedge between him and Gina — as if the Frozen production isn’t enough. Then, the twist at the end questions whether EJ will catch himself before repeating history from Season 1 in the name of the “common good.”
EJ’s character development is some of the best, and this quest for success for his friends — for Gina — could jeopardize that as it veers dangerously close to his harmful actions to “help” Nini. But, EJ stepping in as Hans may preface HSMTMTS‘ plans to subvert even EJ’s expectations of himself; he can play a villain in a musical, but EJ is not one anymore.
Relating to EJ as Hans, his duet with Gina as Anna is charming and cinematic, and the lyrics speak to their relationship even if the characters don’t entirely, hopefully. Plus, it’s exciting to see Sofia Wylie as a Disney princess — as it was with Julia Lester with Ashlyn as Belle last season and Nini as Gabriella in the first season.
This episode also squashes any jealousy between Gina and Val while forging EJ’s friendship with the older camper. The comfortability of the shared history between EJ and Val (and Matt Cornett and Meg Donnelly from Zombies 3) contributes to EJ’s trust in her advice. HSMTMTS can’t help but channel a DCOM!
After all, HSMTMTS isn’t coy about the parallels between EJ and Gina’s tension and that of Troy and Gabriella in HSM 2. However, “No Drama” plays with the idea that this season also incorporates elements of High School Musical 3: Senior Year, which isn’t surprising considering the transitional period EJ finds himself in before college.
The HSM 2 energy shines through EJ’s comments about Ricky and Gina’s late-night hiking. Everything down to Cornett’s delivery lands similarly to Troy telling Ryan Evans that he’s had Gabriella’s mom’s brownies.
Then, HSMTMTS introduces the Caswell Success Training School in Saint Louis, which is undeniably more than 32.7 miles away from Salt Lake — unlike the University of California, Berkley and Stanford University. Nevertheless, the similarities to HSM 3 are right there.
Beyond the connection to the source material, this season’s new characters also bring so much life to the show. Val’s aforementioned maturity is one thing, but Val also harnesses a desire to protect the campers — her friends — that makes her an honorary Wildcat.
Plus, HSMTMTS builds on Ashlyn’s odd animosity towards Val, suggesting this show will only gain LGBTQ+ representation in the near future. However, no matter how things shake out with Ashlyn, “No Drama” already confirms more representation by affirming Maddox’s sexuality through her relationship with a former camper named Madison.
Since HSMTMTS made history with Disney’s first LGBTQ+ love song last season, it’s not shocking that the same show would want to continue down that progressive and necessary path, normalizing LGBTQ+ representation on TV.
Similarly, while it stirs drama between its female characters, HSMTMTS doesn’t pit them against each other in an outdated way. For instance, Kourtney and Gina kindly shared the role of Taylor in Season 1, and now they share the stage as co-leads of Camp Shallow Lake’s Frozen. Their friendship is valuable, and HSMTMTS views it as such.
Refreshingly, this show continues to value its characters’ mental health, too. With the evergreen reminder to check on your friends who can act as mirrorballs, Kourtney’s mother doesn’t knock down her daughter’s suggestion that maybe speaking to a professional is the best route to cope with her anxiety.
HSMTMTS is no stranger to facilitating positive conversations about therapy with its young characters. The show’s willingness to discuss that option is one of the reasons why Ricky’s journey in HSMTMTS 2×09, “Spring Break,” still stands out.
So, while “No Drama” catches plenty of characters in tough spots, HSMTMTS‘ history suggests it will follow through on their arcs. The romantic relationships on this show are inarguably compelling, but this storyline proves that Season 3 is also doing a lot of meaningful character work that establishes HSMTMTS as one of the best YA shows on TV.
Other Fabulous Moments:
- No one is better at breaking the fourth wall than Joshua Bassett. The one over Corbin’s shoulder is top-tier quality.
- Who else wants more Dewey Wood on this show?
- Did anyone else audibly cheer when Gina shared that her mom is moving back to Salt Lake? She deserves all the good things!
- Jet and Maddox’s relationship is interesting, and HSMTMTS needs more of it. Hopefully, the show can find a way to incorporate them next season.
- Ricky pausing before saying the word “ice” because it is on the next page is hilarious.
- “Corbin Bleu is just a character in a documentary. He can’t hurt me.” Frankie Rodriguez’s line delivery proves he is a comedic genius.
- The Kenny Ortega name drop got to me. How perfect!
What did you think of HSMTMTS 3×04, “No Drama?” Let us know in the comments below!
New episodes of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series premiere Wednesdays on Disney+!