Title Card - High School Musical The Musical The Series Season 1, Episode 3 “The Wonderstudies”

As we come to see the dark side of Nini and EJ, we’re reminded there are no antagonist or protagonist, just a bunch of kids trying to navigate newfound stress.


Directed By Tamra Davis
Written By Zach Dodes
Air Date (Disney+) 11/22/2019

Recap

Haters Gon’ Hate: Mr. Mazzara, Ms. Jenn, Carlos

Mr. Mazzara mean mugging.

With Mr. Mazzara losing four members of his robotics team to Ms. Jenn’s musical, he is pissed. After all, that not only means the team has less of a chance of going to China, but when it comes to funding, among other things, that might be threatened. So, to turn the tide, he looks into Ms. Jenn’s past and finds out she wasn’t featured in the original High School Musical. What she was is an extra.

This he uses to confront her with, and as he does so, Carlos comes in to defend his mentor and teacher. Leading to Mr. Mazzara getting nasty with him and saying Ms. Jenn is the only friend he has. In turn, Ms. Jenn, while admitting she fudged her resume, shows Mr. Mazzara all the work she does isn’t trumped up but very much real. Also, that he should be ashamed of himself for talking to a student as he did.

The Beef Is Real: Gina, Kourtney, Nini

Gina doing a split.

Due to Nini thinking Gina stole her phone, which she did, but not to the extent Nini thinks, she decides to start stealing herself. Then she kicks it into a whole other gear by bringing Kourtney into it, who goes beyond Nini’s stealing of sneakers and takes Gina’s laptop. Mind you, as that happens, we don’t really see Gina’s reaction to all these things being taken from her. So how she reacted to her things being gone is not mentioned at all. All we know is Nini feels guilty, eventually, and gives the stuff back. Setting up a reveal that could shake up her current relationship.

Comment Down Below
  1. Considering we saw Gina crying in the trailer, anyone else thought that maybe she was from a working-class family or under pressure to perform to have a better future? Making it so losing sneakers, a laptop, all that Nini and Kourtney took, would matter?

And Unseasoned: Ricky, EJ, Ashlyn, Nini

EJ noting he isn't going to apologize about taking Nini's phone.
EJ: I’m not gonna fall on my sword and confess about the phone now.

The more we get to know EJ, the less appealing he becomes. Especially as Ashlyn continues to help us see that behind the abs and athleticism is a deeply insecure young man. One threatened by his girlfriend’s ex even though those two had a rather nasty breakup.

Yet, lest we forget, even if a senior, EJ is still young and these feelings are rather new. So dealing with Ricky still being around, and aggressively trying to get Nini back, you can see why that would drive him crazy and lead to him acting out of character. But, as Ashlyn makes clear, that doesn’t excuse his behavior so when he talks about making an apology song, while she doesn’t like what he comes up with, she respects the effort.

However, in the long run, he decides against apologizing just because Ricky busts his lip. Mind you, it was due to, during an improvisation, EJ deciding to throw a basketball aggressively at Ricky and Ricky doing the same and EJ not expecting it. This ultimately makes him not want to apologize for between starting a tiff and going through Nini’s phone, there is this fear it could make him look bad, and Ricky look good.

But, unbeknownst to him, Ricky decides to confront Nini about the voicemail he left, and EJ deleted, and this leads to her realizing that EJ had her phone.

Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs

Review

Highlights

Everyone Is A Bit Unlikable, But Not Worth Hating

Thinking big picture, as much as Miss Jenn sometimes seems like she is exploiting the children, in order to live vicariously, we’re reminded she is building a community so gossipers like Carlos can still make friends. Also, as much as you could hate Mr. Mazzara for trying to blackmail and ruin Miss Jenn, at the same time, she is spending a lot of money on trinkets while his clubs are given a shoestring budget. Does that make him snooping into her purchases and trying to expose her, right? No. However, you have to understand as much as she is trying to go to bat for her outcast kids, likely so is he.

Then when it comes to the EJ situation, I will forever remember Rowan Blanchard, in some interview, mentioning how much adults forget how new things are to teenagers and tweens, and why that leads to some of their reactions. So as much as you want to call him negative things and side-eye him, he is this high school senior who isn’t necessarily touted as a ladies man. Yes, he gets a lot of attention, at school and home, but you don’t hear about exes and things like that. So who is to say Nini isn’t his first serious relationship?

Also, let’s take into consideration, Nini’s ex isn’t some guy who she will never see again. Unlike in many adult relationships, there isn’t breaking things off and going separate ways. Between class and hallways, Ricky is still there. Then when you add him being in the musical, and Miss Jenn wanting to feel off that, you can understand why EJ may feel a bit shaken and insecure.

The same goes for Nini. While Miss Jenn sees something in her, Gina clearly has the kind of experience that goes beyond what Nini currently has. I mean, the girl can do splits, high kicks, bend like a contortionist, and while Nini can do choreography and sing, their talent doesn’t necessarily even up. So with the idea that theater, if not entertainment, is cruel, can you blame her for stealing stuff when she thinks Gina stole from her?

Heck, with Gina, as noted previously, can you blame someone for being mad that they didn’t get a part due to someone else having potential vs. being able to show it and have a resume to exhibit consistency? This is all to say, what I’m starting to love about this show is that there aren’t any good or bad people but just people. And also, for those we deem to be wicked, the show doesn’t employ some sympathetic storyline to change how you see them. They just flesh them out and allow us to see their side to things, and how they are the hero in their own story.

On The Fence

Kourtney Really Is Going To Be Stuck In A Trope, Isn’t She?

Kourtney talking to Nini.
Kourtney: I could have told you that.

On Twitter, Jackee Harry, of Sister, Sister fame, noted that sometimes a role is about a check, exposure, and just because someone is playing a character you may not like or fits into your respectability politics, doesn’t make them a bad character. I agree, but it doesn’t make me any less worried that Kourtney is being trapped as Nini’s best friend and may not evolve beyond that.

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Kourtney Really Is Going To Be Stuck In A Trope, Isn’t She? - 70%
Everyone Is A Bit Unlikable, But Not Worth Hating - 89%

80%

Trajectory – Plateau: As of now, the show is still laying down its foundation, so it is hard to say whether it is getting better, as it makes the characters more human, or worse, as some still fit into tropes. So, we have to wait and see what may happen.


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