We're all in this together... searching for references to the Joshua Bassett and Olivia Rodrigo chatter from early 2021 in the new season of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, that is. Since season 1 ended, there's been a lot of outside drama surrounding a certain breakup ballad about driving and Bassett's rumored relationship with fellow Disney star Sabrina Carpenter. It all began when Rodrigo's hit song "drivers license" and, subsequently, Carpenter's track "Skin" got the internet sleuthing about what may or may not have happened off-screen.
Carpenter has denied that her song was a response to "drivers license," and Rodrigo hasn't revealed who her song is about. “I totally understand people’s curiosity with the specifics of who the song’s about and what it’s about, but to me, that’s really the least important part of the song,” she told Billboard. "It's resonating with people because of how emotional it is, and I think everything else is not important."
Now, Rodrigo and Bassett's series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is returning for season 2, and according to Entertainment Weekly, their characters Ricky and Nini begin the season totally in love, before things begin to unravel as Nini considers going to a prestigious out-of-state school. The series is known for being somewhat meta, so is there any possibility that the writers decided to wink at just how much the internet obsessed over "drivers license" earlier this year?
Well, there certainly won't be anything in the season's first four episodes. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the majority of those episodes were taped pre-pandemic and pre-"drivers license." The rest of the eight, however, could conceivably reference the chatter — though it's still unlikely. HSMTMTS resumed filming in October 2020, after Bassett and Carpenter were reportedly spotted together at a June protest and also after Rodrigo got her driver's license in July. However, "drivers license" dropped in early January 2021 and filming on the High School Musical series wrapped in late February. Because TV episodes are generally written well before production begins, it seems pretty unlikely that the writers would have managed to slip in a reference to Rodrigo's chart topper.
In fact, the whole production was focused on much bigger issues when the actors went back to set in October. Assistant director Brent Geisler told the Salt Lake Tribune that filming was more difficult, which totally changed the vibe: "We definitely didn’t have the playfulness that we had before. Everything was a lot more serious, obviously. Everything felt uncertain and a little scary."
So for now, maybe fans should just enjoy the series for the show within a show that it is.