“High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” Season 4 Features Horrendous Queer Representation

Seb and Carlos high school musical the musical seaosn 4
Sebastian and Carlos in Episode 4 of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (Image: Screengrab)

While I was excited to see what the final season of Disney’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series had in store for fans, I was not expecting the horrendous queer representation the creative team decided to opt for. And yes, I’m going to say it… shame on them!

Warning: This review of HSMTMTS Season 4 contains major spoilers. You have been warned!

The live-action High School Musical: The Musical: The Series received a lot of praise for how it handled the queer storyline involving Carlos and Sebastian (or Seblos). And rightfully so. Seblos moved the needle forward when it came to queer representation from Disney. And not only that, but HSMTMTS continued to add even more queer characters, especially during the show’s third season.

However, as far as my opinion goes, all of that progress has been tainted forever by how the writers decided to treat the show’s queer characters during the final season.

The third installment ended with Carlos being worried about his relationship with Sebastian, because the documentary Carlos was part of made it seem he had cheated on Seb during summer camp with a dancer. Of course, the audience knew no such thing happened. So, I was looking forward to seeing Carlos getting to talk to Seb and mending their relationship over said misunderstanding.

The fourth season did give me that. Seb refused to talk to Carlos, indicating that he was still hurt. With High School Musical 4 filming at East High, Seb’s family farm was responsible for craft services. This gave Carlos the opportunity to finally talk to Seb in person. Seb wasn’t interested in listening to him, but at least Carlos tried.

Having their relationship experiencing such a bump on the road due to a misunderstanding over a cheating allegation wasn’t my favorite storyline for them. But hey! I was glad Seblos was getting some kind of screentime, especially because I thought Seb was going to be benched and only used as a guest actor, similar to his treatment during the third season.

But everything changed for me during episode 4, ‘Trick or Treat’, when Seb decided to talk to Carlos and reveal to him that… he was the one who had cheated on Carlos during summer vacation!

Like, what the heck?

I couldn’t believe what I was watching onscreen. The writers had managed to shatter all of the good work they had done when it came to onscreen queer representation by giving the main queer couple a trope-y cheating storyline.

The way Seb told Carlos that he had actually hoped Carlos had cheated on him during summer camp so Seb wouldn’t have to feel so bad about his own cheating made me furious.

He also went on to say that the cheating happened because he missed Carlos. But according to Seb, it was (in a way) also a good thing because it made him realize how much he missed and felt for Carlos.

Excuse me! When did I switch the streaming service to watch Elite?

And things continued to get worse in the following episodes.

While Carlos, understandably, didn’t want to talk to Seb, in episode 5 ‘Admissions’, he shared a scene with Miss Jenn to basically say how he felt it was his fault Seb cheated on him. Carlos’s storyline has involved his insecurity with his physical appearance, mainly his body. And seeing Carlos blame himself for Seb’s betrayal didn’t sit right with me. 

But wait… there’s more!

Episode 5 also had Big Red return to talk to Ashlyn about their complicated relationship status. And it’s during a scene between the two where Big Red reveals that he’s the boy Seb cheated on Carlos with. From what I could understand, that particular kiss is what led Big Red to realize that he was queer.

So, yeah, the writers took Disney’s first live-action openly bisexual teen boy and, for some reason, decided to have him be part of a cheating storyline, adding yet another example to the unfortunate trope that depicts bisexual people as unfaithful.

Apparently, from what I could tell, Seb also came out as bisexual during episode 6 ‘Trust the Process’ so that’s a double whammy!

You just can’t trust those damn bisexuals.


Also, the way the writers tried to make the cheating thing between Seb and Big Red not seem like a major deal really annoyed me. Both Seb and Big Red shared that they regretted their action to kiss each other while watching a movie. Which… good! You should feel bad!

But what really got to me was how the writers seemed to be saying, especially to younger viewers, that a mere kiss shouldn’t be considered a severe enough level of cheating to end a relationship over.

Episode 6 had Seb sing a song to Carlos as an apology. And, of course, Carlos joined Seb as they both sang about how they both will always be there for each other to overcome obstacles over and over again.

Like, I’m sorry…. but cheating shouldn’t be considered a casual relationship obstacle that a couple should be okay with dealing with continuously.

Carlos deserved so much better.

The writers did try to give Carlos a backbone when he, rightfully, refused to accept Big Red’s apology. But that storyline was dropped ASAP, with Carlos, Seb, and Big Red operating in their group of mutual friends as if nothing had happened.

Also, newly out bisexual Ashlyn didn’t fare any better. She was shown to have a crush on Maddox during season three and that crush only intensified when Maddox decided to enroll in East High. Seeing the two come close to kissing each other in episode 4 while Maddox was still with Madison and Ashlyn was still figuring things out with Big Red was just wow!

Again, you just can’t trust those damn bisexuals.


If the writers wanted to give Seblos more to do, the storyline involved Seb wanting to come out to his father was right there. Along with the cheating allegation due to the documentary, they could have also had Seb ignore Carlos because he was working craft services with his father. The eight-episode-long final season could have been about Seb finally believing Carlos about not cheating and Carlos trying to support Seb to come out to his father.

Instead, we got an actual cheating storyline (that has ruined Seblos forever) and Seb coming out to his father turned out not to be such a big deal (dealt in a single scene with Seb kissing Carlos onstage) because Seb’s father always knew his son was queer and had been waiting for Seb to tell him.

All in all, HSMTMTS season 4 was a major disappointment when it came to how it handled the queer representation. It was just shameful.

I can’t tell what possessed the creative team to opt for such a route. I guess I will never know.

Released on Disney+ on August 9, 2023, did you binge-watch High School Musical: The Musical: The Series season 4?

What did you think of the queer representation?

Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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