This post contains spoilers for the newest episode of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series
There's new ground breaking today on Disney+'s all-new episode of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, as East High’s favorite assistant-director-turned-talking-candlestick sang a swoon-worthy song to his boyfriend Seb — Disney’s first-ever same-sex love song!
In the episode "The Transformation," the Wildcats have just gotten back from Spring Break, and, unfortunately, Seb is feeling more than a little left out of all the fun Carlos had while on vacation. He’s worried that the only reason Carlos is dating him is that he’s the only other gay student at East High.
That’s when Carlos gets the idea to sing a song to Seb explaining how exactly he feels. "When all’s said and done, you’ll always be the one that I keep coming back to. In a heartbeat I choose you," he sings, and we all burst into tears.
It really is a perfect scene for the characters, and a perfect song for queer youth, especially those in places where there may not be a lot of other queer people. With a message of choosing your partner for who they are, instead of because they’re just there, "In a Heartbeat" is the latest classic Disney love song.
Both this, and the episode where Carlos and Seb dance at Homecoming together were directed by Joanna Kerns, and that consistency helped the actors. "She is just the best," actor Frankie A. Rodriguez tells Out."To have that kind of familiar face that was so excited to get to work...was so fun."
Carlos and Seb are played by real-life couple Frankie A. Rodriguez and Joe Serafini, so they know how important it is for viewers to see quality queer representation on the show, so for Rodriguez, getting to sing a same-sex love song in a Disney show was a special experience.
"I'm just thankful and grateful for the opportunity," he says. "The fact that someone's going to listen to that and connect that to their own personal story. It's very touching."
Both actors also credit showrunner Tim Federle, a gay man, for creating a show where this kind of thing can happen. "I’m really just very thankful for and to our showrunner, Tim Federle, who has really said, 'These are the stories that we're going to tell,'" Rodriguez says. "Not just with us, but a lot of different diversity and stories that we're telling on the show that we haven't really seen before. So I think that's also, what's making the show so fun and refreshing to watch is that people are able to connect with so many different characters on the show."
Now, LGBTQ+ fans will have a new way to connect with the characters, through a song that queer people everywhere can sing along with.
Serafini calls the scene "a celebration of Seb and Carlos" and says that he has a great time playing his real-life boyfriend’s fictional boyfriend.
While their characters are in a relationship with each other just like the actors are, Serafini says that’s largely where the similarities end. "They’re younger and I feel like they’re more nerdy," he says. But Rodriguez playfully points out, "You are so nerdy, Joe! You’re the nerdiest person I know!"
Still, they’re having a lot of fun getting to redo some of the best parts of high school, but in a more supportive and open environment. "I didn't have as much fun in high school (as Carlos)," Rodriguez says. "But I think this experience is so fun because when you really do get to relive, for theater kids, the best part of high school, which was doing the show, and creating a little family and doing all of that stuff."
In real life, the couple have been together for a little over two years, and they still love spending as much time together as possible. "We are couch potatoes," Rodriguez says. "Oh my gosh, lots of Real Housewives...we go on little hikes...we watch Drag Race," adds Serafini.
They also love to have company and host meals. "We hosted pretty much every holiday," Serafini says, with Rodriguez adding, "We got good at it too!"
The pair will soon be traveling to Pittsburgh, where Serafini is from. He’ll be singing in a special 75th anniversary concert for a theater he grew up doing shows at. And of course, Rodriguez will be right by his side.
You can watch High School Musical: The Musical: The Series now on Disney+. New episodes premiere every Friday.