Typically, every Halloween I like to do my favorite segment Villains Profile. It’s a simple concept, look at four villains that fit a certain theme in the past, it has been things such as sea-based villains, hunters, or non-MCU supervillains. This year, however, I’ve decided to get a bit musical as we are looking at four villains from a Disney Channel franchise that I love and have loved since the first film debuted. This October, I’ve decided to look at the villains of the High School Musical franchise. Speaking of that, one category that I typically do in Villains Profile is Villain Songs, and well, that doesn’t exactly work for these particular sets of villains. Instead, that category will be retitled Songs They Sing, and considering that I am looking at all three HSM movies for Sharpay’s entry, that’s going to be a long category.
Okay, confession time but part of the reason I tuned in to watch the first High School Musical is that I had a crush on Ashley Tisdale. You see at the time I knew as Maddie on The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and casting Tisdale as Sharpay was an interesting but deliberate choice.
Maddie was a nice character that had a bit of snark to her whereas Sharpay is the most famous Disney Channel mean girl. As I mentioned, the casting of Tisdale as Sharpay was something she wanted and was even referenced when Suite Life did their HSM episode.
Mr. Blaine didn’t want to pick Maddie because she was too nice. The same thing happened during the actual auditions for the High School Musical film; the director, Kenny Ortega didn’t want to pick Ashley Tisdale because of her good girl image on The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. Ashley Tisdale had to watch Mean Girls to get the part.
I do find it interesting that Ortega was hesitant to cast Tisdale because back then she was known more for Maddie and her good girl roles. Whereas nowadays, I imagine more people that grew up watching live-action Disney Channel programs think of Tisdale more as Sharpay than they do as Maddie. I mean fans of HSM recently have been re-evaluating her character and claiming that she is a villain that was right all along.
Where do I stand on that? Read along and you’ll find out. I will say that I hated her over-the-topness when I first became a fan but as I got older, I realized that was the point of Sharpay’s character.
We first get an impression of Sharpay and what she likes when the student body returns from winter break as she walks through the halls of East High texting on her phone as she doesn’t say a word but the students get out of her way acknowledging her queen bee status. Or as Chad puts it, ice queen. That is a small sense of who Sharpay is but there is a bigger sense later on in the film and what seems to be more of Sharpay’s true first appearance.
Look at how big Shrpay wrote her name on the sign-up sheet as it takes up most of the sheet. This small detail speaks to highly Sharpay thinks of herself and how she believes that the world revolves around her and she will do anything to keep it that way.
There is one word, to sum up, Sharpay’s personality:
And I don’t mean the kind of divas that are celebrated on Drag Race but rather the type that believes they are the most important person in the world and will do anything and everything to let everyone around them know that. That is who Sharpay is especially in the first two movies. She does mellow out somewhat in the third movie but mostly because the true villain of that film out divas her. We will get to this when we look at her songs but even some of the titles of her songs reveal her diva-ish nature. She has a song in the third movie titled “I Want It All” for crying out loud. And going further into this, this exchange from “Stick to the Status Quo” helps show off her diva nature.
This is not what I want
This is not what I planned
And I just gotta say
I do not understand
Something is really
Something’s not right
[Sharpay & Ryan:]
And we gotta get things
Back where they belong
We can do it
The fact that Sharpay believes the idea of Troy and Gabriella being in the winter musical will upend the hierarchy of East High that she is the queen of or that she believes she is that queen of. This speaks to the idea of how something so insignificant seems like the biggest thing in high school. At least Sharpay didn’t go the Sarah Berry route. Yeesh!
You’ll notice that how I labeled this section and that is because she has different goals in each of the three main films and her spin-off movie. Yes, she got a spin-off movie where she was the character we were meant to root for. With her goal in the second movie perhaps her being at most mean girls. In the first movie, her grand desire is rather simple as she doesn’t Troy and Gabriella to get the leads in the winter musical and will do whatever it takes to stop them from landing those roles. As I said this speaks to how something so insignificant can seem like the biggest thing in the world as a teenager.
I mentioned that grand desire/goal in the sequel is a bit worse as she plans on breaking up Troy and Gabriella and getting Troy to be with her. She goes so far as getting him hired at her parent’s country club and for a brief period, it almost works as Gabriella breaks up with Troy as she doesn’t like who he’s become. Sharpay is evil but smart.
Sharpay racked up quite a several people that followed her lead during the original trilogy. Starting with her brother, Ryan.
First and foremost, is Sharpay’s twin brother, Ryan and I have written about him extensively as a part of the LGTBQ+ Disney Character Retrospective and how Kenny Ortega had always intended for Ryan to be gay but was afraid of the backlash that he’d receive in 2006 for including a gay character in the movie. That’s disappointing but not surprising to consider when you look at how it’s taken until recently for gay characters in children’s media to be truly accepted.
Other than that, how is Ryan as a character? In the first movie, he comes across as dumb and as though he is just following his sister’s lead without any of his own motivation. This could be to his detriment because as Taylor establishes if Sharpay could find a way to play both Romeo and Juliet, she’d have no problem cutting her brother out of her life. In the second movie, he becomes a more developed character as he starts to step out of his sister’s shadow and befriend the other East High students. He isn’t as malicious or as dumb in the sequels, which is a breath of fresh air.
Fulton is interesting as the HSM WIki says that he appears as the main villain of HSM2 but no, it’s still Sharpay. He is the manager of the Lava Springs Club that her parents own and basically does whatever fancies Sharpay including hiring Troy in the hopes of getting him to be all hers. What I like about Fulton is that even though he is ding all this, you can tell that he hates it and only does it to stay employed. There is a scene early on in the movie where after Sharpay and Ryan, you can see him spraying mouthwash in his mouth after telling Sharpay she will get what she wants. It’s small but it speaks volumes to how much he hates kissing up to the Evans family, especially Sharpay.
I’ve seen this trilogy more times than I count and if I’m honest, I didn’t even know these characters existed until writing this article. I kinda get the idea as Sharpay is a mean girl and mean girls have cliques a la Heathers or the Plastics but The Sharpettes are so forgettable. Sure, they have names but they matter none. They are just there to be backup fodder for Sharpay.
This one as you’ll see in the next entry is kind of a cheat but in the third movie, she starts out as someone that worships and follows Sharpay’s every order. That’s all I say now as she’ll be getting her own entry in this series.
Songs Sung by Sharpay
What I’ve Been Looking For
Something that should be taken into consideration when looking at Sharpay’s songs and starting with this one is you can get the sense that it is overproduced and that ties into the well-polished image that Sharpay likes to present herself. This is such a great look at it as she takes a quiet number written by Kelsi and overproduces it to the point where it is no longer recognizable.
Stick to the Status Quo
I already touched upon this moment when discussing Sharpay’s personality and this video here from the One Villainous Scene playlist did inspire my decision to look at the HSM villains this year.
One great point that this video brings up that I hadn’t even considered is how this number presents the cliques as being socially segerated and Sharpay cannot stand the idea of them interacting with one another.
… all cliques in East High must be socially segregated yet ensuring that equal opportunities arise to all clicks and her only real goal in the film is to protect the balance of power within a cruel and unforgiving social hierarchy