High School Musical: The Musical: The Series fans have been waiting to see Ricky (Joshua Bassett) and Gina (Sofia Wylie) act on their feelings for years — and creator Tim Federle says the anticipation will soon be over.
“We always keep the fans in mind because we know they are why we are on the air and we want them to be satisfied,” Federle, 43, exclusively told Us Weekly ahead of the show’s season 4 premiere. “And also, you want to surprise people, do some twists and trust your own storyteller heart. Because I think if you try to please everybody, you don’t end up pleasing anybody.”
Ricky and Gina’s feelings for each other have been teased since the mockumentary debuted in 2019. Despite a charged moment at the season 1 homecoming dance, it took several more years before the fictional couple gave their connection a chance.
“It’s so full circle and impactful. One of the reasons we wanted to wrap season 4 on a high was to be able to give the audience a sense of closure with the characters they’ve stuck with for years,” Federle explained. “Same thing with the actors — and collaborating with them. [Joshua and Sofia] are the best.”
According to the show’s creator, fans can expect plenty of big moments for Ricky and Gina in the upcoming episodes.
“They’ve got a duet this season that is among my favorite songs we’ve ever done. It is super emotional and has a hook to it that is really cool,” he noted. “Oftentimes, I think the first time you’re in love, you think that’s the standard and it should last forever. My evolving thought is that Ricky and Gina are really in love for the first time together because they’ve experienced some of the world. They’ve gotten a little pushed down. So much happens and it’s beautiful to be able to write this relationship — no holds barred.”
Federle went on to say that it was always the plan to make Gina’s bond with Ricky stand out. Before the pair started dating, Ricky had a tumultuous relationship with Nini (Olivia Rodrigo) while Gina struggled to maintain a romance with E.J. (Matt Cornett).
“I remember we had this thing in the writers room where we always tried to answer the question, ‘But why Ricky for Gina?’ Because E.J. is this amazing guy — who I think the audience will see is starting to land in a really good place in his life. And what we said is, ‘Ricky always makes Gina laugh,'” Federle told Us. “She can be really competitive, self-possessed, ambitious, she can beat herself up if things don’t go well and she’s a real people-pleaser. Ricky just can cut through all of that and make Gina laugh. And I think that’s one of the qualities of their relationship that she hasn’t had with another guy.”
He continued: “Ricky has these silly, goofy qualities [that] she has. I mean, there’s this look on Sofia Wylie’s face when she looks at Josh and there’s a look on Josh’s face when he looks at Sofia. I’m like, ‘Nobody amuses Gina like Ricky and nobody makes Ricky happy like Gina. That is so real and worth holding onto. Then the question of the season [becomes], ‘Is the timing right?'”
The fourth and final season of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series premieres on Disney+ August 9.