Ricky’s Mom Was Actually the Worst Character in ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,’ and Here’s Why

It’s been a few months since High School Musical: The Musical: The Series came to an end, and it seems like the wait for Season 2 is longer than ever. While it’s on Disney+, the series doesn’t shy away from tougher storylines and absolutely appeals to older millennial viewers as well as Gen Z. It’s pretty well written and the characters — and the actors that play them — have their own fanbases now, thanks to the success of Season 1. One character, in particular, Ricky Bowen (played by Joshua Bassett), is a favorite and has one of the most complex arcs. One aspect includes family problems, and the show does a disservice to Ricky by not delving deeper into his mother’s wrongdoings. [Spoiler alert: Spoilers ahead for High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.]

Ricky right after his performance of 'Getcha Head In The Game.'
Ricky (Joshua Bassett) right after his performance of ‘Getcha Head In The Game’ | Disney+

Ricky’s mom really left him out in the dust throughout the season

Ricky is your typical high school junior who doesn’t really like coming out of his comfort zone. This includes suppressing his feelings for his ex-girlfriend Nini (Olivia Rodrigo). He was too afraid to share that he loved her in return, and in the process pushed her away. The whole reason he even auditions for the school musical is to spend more time with her and possibly make up for his mistake. 

But he also has a lot of home problems, which stem mostly from his mother. You don’t see her much, because Ricky doesn’t see her much. She’s in Chicago on “business,” but really his parents are separating. However, his father is not taking it too well while she already has a new boyfriend. It’s never explicitly said if she cheated, however, it’s implied. 

His mom misses the holidays and her boyfriend Todd answers one of Ricky’s calls once. Ricky skipped rehearsals and left home one time because he was just so distraught over what he was going through. The show does a pretty good job of showing how a teen reacts to his parents divorcing, but there are more issues later on. 

Her selfishness messed up his ‘High School Musical’ performance

You can’t really get past the fact that Ricky’s mom is being selfish. Sure, she said that she nor Ricky’s dad were happy in their relationship. However, she doesn’t really make the time for Ricky to make up for the massive changes going on in his life. Instead, she steers clear of Ricky and Salt Lake City. Ricky is really struggling and doesn’t always get the help he needs in this tough time. 

The biggest show of her selfishness, however, is when she brings Todd to Ricky’s performance as Troy Bolton in High School Musical. His dad doesn’t seem fazed by it, however Ricky is blindsided. He chokes, mid-song during “Getcha Head In The Game” and rushes off after. He decides to sit out the rest of the second act, even though he does come back thanks to a push from Nini and Gina. 

This is never resolved and it’s made out like Ricky should just get over it

Instead of his mom apologizing or even acknowledging how much Ricky is hurt by Todd being there, she tries to make it a learning moment for her son. “I think your dad would be happy for me that I’m actually happy,” she tells him. While that is the best-case-scenario in divorce situations, that’s the worst thing to say at that moment. 

Ricky isn’t consoled by his mother. She doesn’t apologize for a lot of her transgressions this season, and it seems like Ricky is just supposed to get over it. Here’s where the writing fails the character. 

In real life, with repressing his emotions and sweeping his hurt feelings from this whole thing under the rug, Ricky would be traumatized or depressed. The show, though, just totally skates over the fact that she behaved inappropriately. Even if cheating wasn’t involved and both parents were unhappy in their relationship, she did not put her son first in this situation. And Ricky doesn’t get any sort of closure on this. 

Could Season 2 show more reconciliation for Ricky’s mom?

Ricky's mom tells him about her separation to his dad in Episode 4, "Blocking."
Ricky’s mom tells him about her separation to his dad in Episode 4, “Blocking” | Disney+

It’s a possibility that Season 2 could show more growth from the mom, or how Ricky struggles with his new reality of separated parents. However, executive producer and showrunner Tim Federle told Entertainment Tonight that he thought this was a good moment

He said that Ricky was spurred into expressing his feelings to Nini because of his conversation with his mom. He said she shared “one of those adult truths that’s difficult,” by telling him people change. This caused Ricky to go for it with Nini, which ultimately gives them both a happy ending where their relationship is involved.

Federele said that his mom pointed out how you should go for what makes you happy, which made him realize that Nini is the source of his happiness. It does make sense that Ricky finally made up with Nini because of his mom. However, Federele’s comments lead one to believe that this chapter of Ricky’s story is done. His mom’s selfishness and bad handling of the whole situation leaves a bad taste in viewers’ mouths. And if Ricky just gets over it, that sourness will bleed into Season 2.