‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series’ Season 2 Finale: Tim Federle Interview

In some ways High School Musical: The Musical: The Series looks like a tv outlier. It’s not simply the various authentic songs, a number of of which have been written by the present’s younger and immensely proficient solid. It’s the present’s kindness. Disney+’s sweetest authentic persistently avoids well-worn TV tropes, at all times selecting to focus on the goodness and optimism of its youngsters somewhat than turning them into the bullies of most YA dramas.

That kindness is a aware alternative on the a part of collection’ creator and government producer, Tim Federle. Decider spoke to High School Musical: The Musical: The Series‘ head about Season 2’s emotional finale. He additionally elaborated on EJ (Matt Cornett) and Gina’s (Sofia Wylie) budding romance, the similarities between Olivia Rodrigo and Nini’s rise following “The Rose Song”, and what may very well be forward if the present will get a Season 3.

Decider: I first need to discuss EJ and Gina, as a result of as soon as that relationship began occurring, I used to be totally on board. When did you need them to start out being a pair?

Tim Federle: Oh, my goodness, I’m not even certain if they’re a pair but. But I believe that every one the way in which again in Episode 10 when EJ flew Gina in. As performers, they’ve extraordinary chemistry, interval, and are each actually good actors. They’re actually enjoyable with each other.

We wished Gina to go on a journey of determining if she belongs in a single place, in East High, determining if there’s something nonetheless left with Ricky [Joshua Bassett], which I personally suppose continues to be probably not a full story but. And finally, realizing that EJ is basically reforming himself and deciding to be a very good man. He actually exhibits up for individuals he cares about. Around the spring break episode, we actually wished to lean into EJ because the form of pal who exhibits up.

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Season 2 Episode 12
Photo: Disney+

You touched on one thing that I’m at all times impressed by in the case of High School Musical: Musical: The Series. Ricky’s an incredible instance. He’s with Nini lots of the time, however he has some chemistry with Gina and Lily [Olivia Rose Keegan]. You discover how characters can have futures with totally different individuals, however you guys by no means devolve into dishonest storylines or take the simple path. How onerous is it to string that needle?

It’s onerous, but it surely’s a very enjoyable problem. It’s onerous as a result of we’re by no means going to be the edgiest teen present on TV. There’s not going to be a Ritalin story. There’s not going to be a vaping story. There’s not even going to be R-rated stuff that I believe really occurs whenever you’re that age. And so it’s important to take a look at what the chance is.

The apparent one is we’re the one present with the phrase “musical” in its title twice. Let’s be actually musical. We would have frankly been much more musical had COVID not slapped us so onerous as a manufacturing. But in the case of telling pretty healthful tales, it’s really a pleasant distinction. I’ve heard from childhood associates of mine, who now have 10-year-olds, and so they’re like, “Hey, we just watched your show. That actually opened up a whole conversation for us because they had never seen two boys slow dance together.” That, to me, is a very highly effective factor that the present’s capable of do. It’s one of many causes I’m actually glad Disney is so behind the present, as a result of it’s a platform that screams household in such an enormous means. It’s actually an honor to inform tales that present what all totally different sorts of households can appear like.

At the top of the day dishonest, and so forth, I believe each present wants a certain quantity of drama and shocks and twists to maintain the followers coming again. But the writers tried to set a aim for us: What if we present mainly good individuals mainly be good to one another? That will not be essentially at all times essentially the most dramatic factor, however I believe it’s a welcome respite from the remainder of the world.

Yeah, it appears very optimistic.

We’ve tried to, and it’s onerous to be an optimist in 2021. But we strive for a half hour every week to indicate what the longer term seems to be like just a little bit. This solid being so authentically younger and bright-eyed, it’s highly effective after they band collectively and attempt to make good choices to assist one another.

I need to discuss one other central relationship: Nini and Ricky. They’ve had a tough patch all all through Season 2. Where do you suppose their relationship goes to go if there’s a Season 3?

Man, I’m nonetheless not over Season 2. That treehouse scene is such a heartbreaker. I don’t know the reply to that. I’m not saying that to be cagey. I don’t know if now we have a Season 3, so I’ve to have a look at what we’ve made in these 22 episodes and say, “Are we proud of this?”

I used to be actually glad that we bought the chance to inform the story of a wholesome breakup, earlier than issues bought actually unhealthy, which isn’t one thing I had a lot of an instance of in mass media rising up… I do know they get again collectively, and that was form of the entire level of Season 1. But day one writers room, pre-pandemic, a yr and a half in the past, we have been like, “I think they can’t stay together this season.” One of the elemental truths of simply being alive, however definitely being younger, is that simply whenever you get issues precisely the place you need them, one thing adjustments. We wished to inform tales that confirmed how individuals deal with that versus simply have every part go the way in which they dreamed.

It does echo one thing about that age group. That’s the primary time you begin to understand that two individuals could be good collectively, however the circumstances simply don’t line up. And it’s actually heartbreaking.

Yeah, it simply doesn’t really feel honest. All of these firsts are so highly effective. That is the rationale I can nonetheless cry at Taylor Swift songs a few first breakup. I’m lengthy divorced from that, however I’m like, sure. When you’re 15 and anyone tells you they love you, you’re going to consider that. Even whenever you heal from it and develop up from it, I don’t know if that scar completely goes away.

I really feel prefer it doesn’t. Everyone roughly my age, all of the millennials I do know, are sobbing over Olivia Rodrigo’s songs. Like why do they hit so onerous?

It’s so onerous. She faucets into one thing that’s so genuine, that’s extraordinarily relatable at any age. In some methods solely turns into extra poignant whenever you become older.

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Season 2 Episode 12
Photo: Disney+

Speaking about Olivia, Nini has her “The Rose Song” narrative this season. She begins to turn out to be well-known, and there are hints that she might turn out to be even greater. How a lot was that plot level influenced by Olivia Rodrigo in actual life? I do know that’s onerous to reply for the reason that timelines don’t actually match up.

That’s the half that’s so form of quirky and Twilight Zone-y about it. The sincere reply is that we had the thought for “The Rose Song” pre-pandemic. I keep in mind sitting within the workplace in Los Angeles earlier than we’d even gone to Salt Lake to start out capturing Season 2. This concept that Nini was gonna take off in an enormous means after which must reconcile with relationships in life in highschool, all of that proceeded Olivia’s actual life, breakout enormous success by months and months. I’ve the scripts to show it, which is so loopy.

That being mentioned, yeah, there’s some wild parallels and wild similarities, however in the identical means Romeo and Juliet continues to be a traditional love story for a motive. It was not possible to foretell, essentially, that Olivia was going to have this type of Whitney Houston debut album. But anybody who was near Olivia or close to Olivia or listening to Olivia write these songs, I form of knew that one thing sometime was going to occur. It all simply occurred on this loopy condensed timeline as so many issues appear to throughout this pandemic.

Absolutely. That speaks to one of many present’s enormous strengths. Your authentic songs are simply out of this world. Like I used to be trying on the Spotify streams for “The Rose Song”, and it’s at 12 million streams.

Aside from Libby and Josh writing for us, we’ve bought this unbelievable steady of songwriters. It’s so humorous as a result of I used to be within the automobile the opposite day on just a little mini street journey, and I placed on songs to sing within the automobile, like a random playlist. “Born to Be Brave” got here on, and I used to be like, “Oh, I should listen to this and see if it still moves me.” I used to be screaming alongside to my automobile as a result of I keep in mind when that tune was picked and when that second was constructed in Episode 5 being like, “Let’s do something a little different for Disney, about this boy and a homecoming and feeling stood up by another boy.” We are so fortunate with the songs we get within the present. We actually are.

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Season 2 Episode 12
Photo: Disney+

At the beginning of the season, you mentioned that for Season 2 you have been transferring extra into authentic songs. How have you ever seen followers have reacted to that?

There’s lots of love for the unique songs. I additionally suppose there’s a certain quantity of on-line chatter… We dwell in an period of instantaneous nostalgia. I believe timelines are so condensed due to how reactive we’re. I laughed so onerous, as a result of anyone the opposite day wrote one thing like, “I’m late to the party, but this is what I think about the movie Old.” I’m like, “Late to the party? This came out yesterday.”

We’re all form of so obsessive about getting our sizzling takes on the most recent factor, which I perceive — I’m responsible of it too — that there’s a certain quantity of, “Oh, the Season 1 songs were better.” In the identical breath, with Season 1, the predominant fan voice on-line was like, “Don’t screw with our original High School Musical.” We’re very nostalgic for previous issues till these previous issues turn out to be our new previous issues. I completely, completely stand by these Season 2 songs which might be gonna stand the take a look at of time. Some of them, the ultimate tune of the season, “Second Chance”, completely makes me cry. I believe it’s so stunning, and it’s like one in all my favourite songs we’ve ever finished on the present.

That one is so nicely finished. The cinematography and directing for that tune, it’s so nicely finished.

I keep in mind holding my breath the primary time I noticed the episode reduce collectively by our editor. I simply burst into tears when Josh got here down the steps carrying that first costume as a result of I keep in mind being on set that first week of High School Musical Season 1 feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing. We have been so in over our heads that we have been a launch title together with The Mandalorian, and there was a lot strain. Yet the solid by no means let me down. This is a solid of people who find themselves simply so gifted. So I used to be actually glad that tune got here out the way in which it did.

To shift gears just a little bit, on the finish of the season, Miss Jenn [Kate Reinders] doesn’t reveal the scores from the Alan Menken Awards and everybody decides to drop out of the competitors. Why did you resolve to go in that course? And will we ever know the scores?

Maybe we are going to. If we get to Season 3, that’ll be the primary secret factor we reveal. We went in that course as a result of I believe that scores are — am I watching the Olympics? Yes. Do I believe that scores are so arbitrary in the case of the humanities? One hundred precent, sure. Most mass media awards, which by the way in which, I might like to win each single one, don’t get me incorrect. But I believe most are like a reputation contest, or it’s concerning the sum of money the studio places into selling one thing. Oftentimes, it’s actually rating the incorrect factor.

Especially in highschool, like, oh, my god, you may have your complete life to be aggressive. Please simply get pleasure from this time with these individuals. It was necessary to me, ultimately, when Miss Jenn flew too near the solar and bought too concerned in her personal ego with the present, for the children to indicate her that we don’t really care. The entire level of us doing the musical at college is in order that for 45 minutes day by day, now we have someplace to go the place individuals settle for us and love us. This is our secure place. We don’t have to rank it. That seems like a fairly good message for the younger people on the market who watch the present.

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Season 2 Episode 12
Photo: Disney+

It looks like a return to kind for what the theater is meant to be versus — I imply, I really like Glee to dying and clearly your present at all times invitations Glee comparisons. But that present at all times grew to become enormous season-long arcs about are we going to win this competitors? And whenever you get too aggressive, you form of lose sight of what really issues.

Yeah, whether or not that makes for the spiciest TV or not, I don’t know. I believe there’s a motive for very, very cutthroat dramatic, so-called horrible TV, when it comes to how individuals deal with one another. That’s programming that has clicks and viewers for a motive. I don’t at all times know the way large of an viewers there may be for individuals who mainly deal with one another nicely. So there’s that, from only a pure commerce standpoint. But when it comes to standing by the tales we’re telling, I’m glad on the finish of the day we at all times attempt to return to “You Are the Music in Me.”

The solid really sang that dwell as a shock for me and form of as a thanks for us getting via the pandemic season. And I used to be like, “Oh my god, this is perfect. We’re gonna put it in the show.” It’s so stunning, it’s precisely who these children actually are. They actually do get collectively and say, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we play guitar as a thank you?” which is who they really are as theater children. That to me is price greater than the rest.


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