Bet on this to brighten your day: After the successful first season of Disney+'s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, the newest generation of East High Wildcats officially returned to screens Dec. 11 with an epic holiday special.
In case you're just hopping on the bandwagon, we should note this isn't your millennial version of HSM, which launched the careers of Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale—and shattered ratings records for Disney Channel. No, it's a fresh take, with tongue-in-cheek references, modern updates and original songs as a new crop of characters at East High—where HSM was filmed—decide to take on High School Musical as their theater production. Think Glee meets The Office, with the cut-throat auditions, drama club, well, drama and love triangles blending seamlessly with docu-style confessionals and Jim Halpert-worthy glances to the camera.
It totally works, managing to be meta and sincere all at once. And while we love the next phase of HSM mythology, respect must be paid to the three-film franchise that came before it and unexpectedly became a full-blown pop culture phenomenon.
Directed by Kenny Ortega and also starring Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman, the legacy of High School Musical still lives on and the films are as popular as ever, despite the OG Wildcats graduating more than a decade ago.
So what time is it? It's time to reveal some behind-the-scenes secrets you might not know about the original franchise, like which star didn't actually sing in the first movie, which Disney Channel idol turned down a role and who was evicted from the apartment after they returned from shooting the original film...
(This story was originally published on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 at 4 a.m. PT.)