High School Musical: The Series (we’ll abbreviate it as HSMTS) was one of the most popular shows on Disney+ in its first release, and it remains popular in reruns on Disney+, Amazon Video, Roku, and Vudu. There are fans who have watched some episodes as many as 120 times.
Even if you haven’t watched any episodes of HSMTS 100 times or more, you might wonder why the series had to end. Sure, Maddox (Saylor Bell Curda) and Ashlyn (Julia Lester) finally kissed, Ricky (Joshua Bassett) finally got into college, and Mr. Mazzara (Mark St. Cyr) and Miss Jenn (Kate Reinders) finally admitted they were into each other.
But why did the show stop in the middle of a semester?
Producer Tim Federle has some answers.
Disney+ Didn’t Want the Show to End on a Cliffhanger
Streaming TV isn’t as secure as network TV, Federle says. They weren’t sure that there would be a Season 5, so the producers want to honor everyone’s four years of hard work by resolving some unresolved issues, just in case the show didn’t come back. (And it didn’t.)
Federle Wanted to Make Sure the Story Lines Made Sense
Shows jump the shark, Federle says, when they start seeming silly to viewers who have been with them since the beginning. Federle wanted to keep the characters in the series consistent with the characters in the movie, without introducing improbable stories.
Olivia Rodrigo (Nini) Wasn’t Available to Come Back
HSMTS was a tremendous boost to Olivia Rodrigo’s career. Her single “Driver’s License” broke Spotify’s records twice for most downloads of a non-holiday song, 15.7 million. It became the first song on Spotify to be downloaded 80 million times in seven days. The song debuted at number one on the Hot Billboard 100, and then another of her songs, Good 4 U, also opened at number one on the Hot 100.
Variety calls Olivia the voice of her generation. She was just too busy to do the last eight episodes of the show, and Federle did not want to limit her to cameo appearances.
Gina’s Goodbye Scene Became a Great Goodbye Scene for the Show
The character Gina (Sofia Wiley) has a seven-minute scene in which she recollects her experience with every cast member by their name in the show. Cast members begin to tear up, not because it was written into the script, but because of the way they actually felt. Alert camera operators captured the reaction of every member of the cast as their name was being spoken, and created cinematic gold.
After doing the goodbye scene, Federle felt he could not ask the cast to get back together for some minor scene. The next day, they shot “Born To Be Brave” in the cast limo, did a hair and costume change, and sang “For Good.” The production company handed out crew awards and served some cake, and then the cast started stealing props to save as souvenirs.