Glee vs. High School Musical

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Difference between Glee and High School Musical

Glee and High School Musical have become two of the biggest television franchises in recent history––and they cater almost exclusively to the teen market. It is therefore hardly surprising that the two would invite frequent comparisons to one another, since aside from targeting the teen market, they are both obviously musicals. Nevertheless, the two shows have a number of clear differences that may miss the scrutiny of even their most avid viewers. Let's take a look at the more significant points of each.

High School Musical

The Look

One thing that is immediately apparent with both shows is that a lot of work and thought went into the planning of the set design and wardrobe in terms of trying to make it look as realistic as possible. The costumes of both shows already influence young fashion victims all over the world and the sets and locations are some of the most vibrant and striking ones around. That being said, High School Musical is seemingly attuned towards the tastes of the teen and pre-teen crowd, Glee seems geared more toward an older audience.

Musical Numbers

One of the most obvious differences between both shows is how Glee features musical numbers only in the context of performances and/or rehearsals. No singing or dancing goes on outside of the context of a realistic scenario, unlike in High School Musical when the characters often simply drop everything and launch into a song or dance number.

Content and Delivery

Here is where the divide between both shows gets even wider. While High School Musical is almost the typical Disney concoction of saccharine sweet moments interspersed with highly produced song-and-dance numbers, Glee seems to have an almost off-the-cuff feel to the proceedings. This is not meant to be a criticism on either approach, as the quirkier stylings of Glee is definitely a breath of fresh air. And Disney’s venerable-yet-undeniably-successful formula continues to draw in new fans every generation.

One other important distinction is how Glee approaches various subject matters. The writing is noticeably edgier and it is obviously intended for an older audience, although it still remains within the bounds of the PG13 classification. High School Musical for its part is obviously geared towards younger kids.



  • Characters seem genuine and share a close relationship with each other
  • Has a distinctive look to the set design, colors, and wardrobe
  • Has a more grown-up focus than High School Musical
  • Musical numbers are performed only during “rehearsals” and “performances” tied in with the script
  • Musical numbers are indicative of the thoughts and feelings of the characters
  • Edgier and more humorous approach, think Madonna spoof
  • Still within the bounds of PG-13

High School Musical

  • Characters seem to share on on-screen as well as off-screen chemistry
  • Distinctive look to the set and costumes as well
  • Definitely more upbeat and traditional approach typical of Disney productions
  • Musical numbers are interspersed throughout the story
  • Music numbers often relate to what the characters are thinking and feeling
  • Definitely PG-13


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