“High School Musical” will always be one of my favorite movies. Is it unabashedly cheesy? Yes, of course. But when you look beyond all the campiness and swoon-worthy teen romance, there’s real pathos there. At its core, “HSM” is about following your heart, so that’s why today (Jan. 20), on the Disney Channel Original Movie’s 10-year anniversary, I’m going to follow mine.
I’ve been shipping Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) and Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale) since the early days of “HSM” fever. I know Troy and Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) were the indomitable OTP of the “High School Musical” universe; they were the king and queen of East High. Troyella was endgame, plain and simple. (Well, as endgame as a high school relationship can be.) But the chemistry between Troy and Sharpay was undeniable.
To borrow a few words from my go-to prophet Taylor Swift, while the rest of the Wildcats lived their lives in black and white, Troy and Sharpay were in screaming color. (And we all know how much Sharpay liked to scream.)
Troy needed someone who could keep him on his toes, and that person was Sharpay. She was aggressive, to say the least, but she had every right to be. You see, I am Sharpay Evans. You are Sharpay Evans. We are all Sharpay Evans. Who wouldn’t immediately dislike some annoyingly perfect person who was trying to steal your shine? Sharpay put in years of hard work to earn her spot atop East High’s musical theater ladder. She earned it — and Gabriella waltzed right in and took everything from her. That’s tough.
It’s not bad to want things, or to be fiercely determined. Simply put, Sharpay wasn’t the antagonist; she was human. In fact, she was the realest one of them all. We shouldn’t reprimand her for her ambition.
That being said, Troy could have been the one who showed Sharpay that there was more to life than being the best. Just think about what a great love story that would have been.
Troypay could have been so much more than a one-sided crush. Not only would their pairing have been more electric, but it also would have been more authentic to the film’s message. Think about it: Gabriella was perfect. She excelled at everything and always found a way to make it work, regardless of circumstances. Now, I have nothing against Mary Sues (they can make awesome heroines), but Gabriella was the only Wildcat who never changed — because she didn’t have to.
Sharpay, on the other hand, had to learn a few crucial life lessons — and in the end, that made her a far more interesting, and dare I say better, character. She made compromises for her friends, and for Troy. Frankly, she didn’t deserve to sit on the sidelines and watch Troyella get all the glory.
Troy and Sharpay were never officially cannon, nor will they ever be (unless, of course, we get that reunion movie). But that’s OK. At least Sharpay got her own solo movie in the end — and it was fabulous, just like she deserved.