In the latest episode of Disney+’s already very queer series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, yet another character has discovered that they are queer, and we are loving it!
All season long, Ashlyn (Julia Lester) has been struggling to figure out who she is now that she’s not starring in the show, helping behind the scenes, or with her boyfriend Big Red, who had to stay in Salt Lake to work at his family’s pizza restaurant while she went off to summer camp.
This has led to Ashlyn singing songs, picking fights, and wandering around like a lost puppy. Thankfully, she’s had Maddox (Saylor Bell), a regular camper, to talk to. Maddox recently revealed to Ashlyn that she’s queer and that she had a relationship with another girl at camp (that’s going to be the character played by Jojo Siwa!)
Maddox sees something of herself in Ashlyn and challenges her to take a closer look at herself. Earlier this season she had been explaining to Ashlyn that when she and Madison first met, they didn’t get along, and it took Maddox a while to realize that the tension between them wasn’t enemy tension, it was romantic tension.
Then the camera immediately cuts to Val (Meg Donnelly), the counselor in training who’s been getting on Ashlyn’s nerves in every scene they have together. Could HSMTMTS be telling us something?
Well, it turns out they were.
In last week’s episode, Maddox dropped a huge bomb on Ashlyn after she yelled at Val during a rehearsal. “I know Val is hard to handle sometimes, I used to crush on her too,” Maddox tells a confused Ashlyn. “But yelling at people is no way to express your romantic feelings.”
That prompts Ashlyn to burst out laughing and declare, “I have a boyfriend.”
Now, in this week’s episode, Ashlyn has had some time to think about what happened, but she’s still not ready to accept the truth. As soon as Val approaches her, she tries to run away and immediately brings up her “male boyfriend.” Val asks if maybe she’s compensating for something, and says, “You’re just super complex. There’s an edge to you, but you have so much love inside of you. It’s a beautiful puzzle, and I wouldn’t presume to tell you anything.”
“Okay. Thank you. That was the nicest thing ever,” Ashlyn responds.
The episode ends with Ashlyn apologizing to Val for always picking fights with her. “You have been nothing but nice to me, okay? Why on earth do I snap at you?” she asks tears in her eyes.
Val goes in for a hug right as the camp’s (very dangerous for a forest) fireworks go off and Ashlyn tells the camera, “oh, that’s why.”
This season of HSMTMTS started off a little slow, with half of the Wildcats not at summer camp, but the last two episodes have been some of the series’ best, and it’s just getting better.
We don’t know yet if this means the end of Ashlyn and Big Red or if Ashlyn will just come out to her boyfriend as bisexual, but no matter what happens, we’re excited to see the rest of her journey.
Julia Lester, who plays Ashlyn, and is queer herself, posted a shot from the episode on her Instagram, saying the scene was “for anyone out there still figuring out their ‘why.’”
New episodes of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series stream weekly on Wednesdays on Disney+.