High School vs. High School Musical

Troy and Gabriella walked so we could run…right?

Sophia Meyer, Reporter

Chad? Sharpay? Troy? Gabriella? What’s not to love about these famous East High characters? (The Disney Channel/Kobal/Shutterstock)

High school is exactly like High School Musical. Well, maybe not exactly like it, but why else would the film be given that title if there weren’t at least a few similarities? Let’s start at the beginning and analyze where the film’s script writers went right and wrong in portraying the high school experience.

Unlike East High, STA is home to a beautiful courtyard to give students a breath of fresh air during the busy school day.

We all know the basic outline of High School Musical – basketball star Troy Bolton and brain whiz Gabriella Montez share a special karaoke moment on New Year’s Eve, expecting to never see each other again after that night. Gabriella then transfers schools, ending up at none other than East High School, which also happens to be Troy’s school. After sneaking into auditions, they both unexpectedly sing a magical duet together. They experience obstacles along the way that are attributed both to drama queen Sharpay Evans and pressures from friends, but they ultimately earn the lead roles.

So what exactly about this movie makes it so unrealistic? It could be the coincidence of Gabriella meeting Troy again at East High, the immediate connection they have, or the basketball-player and smart-kid stereotypes that makes the movie all-the-more interesting. It could even be the overly happy students, homework-free environment, or enhanced drama. But overshadowing all of these, the most unlikely aspect of this movie is definitely its musical features.

A daily occurence? The High School Musical cast performs the lively “Stick to the Status Quo” number in the iconic East High cafeteria. (fanpop.com)

When have you ever broken out in song and dance in the middle of lunch? Probably never, unless you’re in choir (even then, probably not). Have you performed “Breaking Free” with your soulmate in front of hundreds of people in the theater after a gym evacuation? It’s possible, but most likely not. It’s these unrealistic elements of the movie that make people’s standards of high school so high. It’s fun to watch it unfold on the big screen, but in reality most people are just minding their own business rather than planning their next dramatic moment in the hallway. Enter Sharpay Evans, our antagonist. 

Can you picture Troy and Gabriella performing together in STA’s theater?

Sharpay, living up to her eccentric name, is East High’s drama queen. Sharpay immediately pins Gabriella as a possible threat to her acting career, and does anything in her power to keep herself the center of attention and Gabriella from getting both the spotlight and Troy. In all of my four years of high school, I have never experienced a Sharpay. Sure, there are competitive aspects of high school, but no one I’ve seen goes to the lengths she does to get what they want. However, sometimes I understand Sharpay to a certain extent. Under her glamorous facade there is just an eager and passionate girl who has a drive to achieve her dreams, and I respect that.

Sharpay Evans surveying the scene, moments before the spaghetti lunch disaster. (teenvogue.com)

Another aspect of this movie that I find a little over-the-top is its commitment to portray stereotypes. The ideas that “basketball players can’t sing” or “smart kids can’t be friends with athletes” are definitely prevalent throughout the film. Watching High School Musical before you’re actually in high school can be misleading because the stereotypes and social hierarchy portrayed just don’t always apply. You can do anything you want in high school, and it doesn’t matter what people think. Just don’t run into upperclassmen with your spaghetti lunch and you’ll be okay. 

While High School Musical is an iconic film, it’s not the best “how to do high school” guide out there because of a few misleading details when it comes to the film’s strict social hierarchy and student portrayals. It’s simply for entertainment purposes (I don’t even remember the students doing actual schoolwork!). It is up to you on what you want your high school experience to look like, just don’t expect it to be an exact recreation of High School Musical.