As someone wholeheartedly dedicated to the High School Musical (HSM) series, it's always interesting to see it show up years after it was thought to have died out. Recently, a thread of tweets were posted, trying to bend the plot of the HSM series to make Sharpay the hero. As much as I love a good twisting of a narrative to make it your own and play with the expectations of those who watched and/or read and/or listened to it, it's not nearly as strong of an argument as the author of the tweet and so many websites are saying it is.
Here to show you that Sharpay is still the antagonist -- not the victim -- of East High, I will attack some of the strongest points of this fan theory to show that taking the plot points and actions of the characters out of context does not make Sharpay a saint.
1. She isn't being benevolent when she offers "supporting roles" to Troy and Gabriella
Near the start of the school year in HSM, Sharpay goes up to the sign-up sheet for the musical and signs her name (and only her name) over every line of the pair audition section, not even mentioning Ryan's name. Now, I understand that, by precedent, the school would understand that her name in the pair auditions means "also with Ryan", but this move shows her narcissism and disregard for Ryan's role.
Also, by offering up "supporting roles" as the only possibility and doing so after she destroyed the ability to even sign up, she's actively excluding people from the play. Getting into the musical was not about "starting somewhere", it was about auditioning and seeing what happens. This type of action is seen again when Sharpay uses Troy and Gabriella's other commitments to hurt their chances of doing the play, something they're learning to love.
2. She stands as the leader of the resistance to accepting that Troy and Gabriella can be interested and active in the play
The "Stick to the Status Quo" song is one of the most iconic scenes in the entire series because of the fact that people start to express themselves as they truly are inside. It's a song of finding a place where someone can care for themself by being honest and open about their passions. All of the major groups treat the people admitting these interests as outsiders, but none more than Sharpay, who is standing above everyone.
The scene's climax is Sharpay expressing these changes as something "wrong" while standing above everyone (and shutting up Ryan when he tries to sing, too) just before shutting them all up so that she could confront Gabriella as the leader of an opposition towards the increasing personal growth of the student body that interferes with her dominance of the stage.
3. Troy and Gabriella's lack of experience does not make them undeserving of getting the roles
Although experience usually does weigh heavily on getting a certain position, so do general personality, respect for the position, and talent. The point made that Sharpay and Ryan made Kelsi's song "better" was a power move to make the show entirely hers. Troy and Gabriella doing the original song while showing their talent and obvious chemistry was much more interesting to Mrs. Darbus than the typical Sharpay-Ryan dominated performance.
The two then went on to practice for their parts while still taking part in their other time commitments, showing an obvious care for and interest in the show. Furthermore, it's ungrounded to say that Gabriella freezing on stage and not knowing what "break a leg" meant is a show of her lack of worth to be lead in the musical. By learning about the drama world and overcoming her stage fright, she grew as a person, unlike Sharpay. Plus, considering she has been in shows since pre-school, I'm not too sympathetic about Sharpay losing the lead in one musical.
4. In HSM 2, she manipulates Troy
It's brought up in the thread that Sharpay "gives all of the Wildcats summer jobs", but really just wanted to get Troy there to try to tear him away from his girlfriend and then make him the next accessory in her talent show performance. When the plot to take him away from his friends and girlfriend backfires because he gets them jobs, too, she forces Troy into situations like the dinner with influential people as a favor to serve as guilt tokens for her to cash in on later.
Being a high school student looking towards his future as well as a generally nice guy, Troy was a vulnerable target for Sharpay's game. By mentioning that he sings while at the dinner with her family, Sharpay put the pressure on Troy to be in the show by asking him to promise that he would while in front of figures that could make his dream come true as well as her parents, who also run the place he's working at to make money for college. Once worried about his future after a talk with his dad, Troy falls victim to it and plays along. It consumed him and his relationships suffered because of it.
Troy and Gabriella's break-up as well as Chad and the rest of Troy's friends being angry with him was because Troy neglected them all in favor of chasing opportunities presented by Sharpay and her family. His lack of making time for his friends/Gabriella and lack of showing that he cared about them, demonstrated by constantly blowing them off, was the problem. The way he was acting reminded them of the selfish, blind, self-centered narcissism of Sharpay, plus he added a speck of misplaced jealousy into the mix. This can't be blamed entirely on Sharpay, though, because Troy can make his own choices. Extra bonus points for the saddest scene of all time.
5. Her plan for the show was a series of selfish power moves
The show was a whole different situation, though. Again, Sharpay changed Kelsi's beautiful duet into a song that had her at the center with Troy as the cute back-up vocals. So deluded by her desire to have Troy as her boyfriend and have the show be entirely about her, she couldn't see that he really wasn't into it. Then, when she finds out that Ryan has actually been enjoying himself as part of a group instead of as a background complement to Sharpay's entire personality along with their shows, she reacts by effectively stopping everyone but her and Troy from being in the show. She attempts to ruin the fun and hard work of all of those people because she wanted to retain her plan and her dominance -- her status quo. Hurting people only matters when it's you, huh Sharpay?
6. Sharpay is not the most miserable person in East High at graduation
The third movie then comes in with the struggles of growing and finding a place in the world for all of the characters. The Twitter thread focuses on Kelsi getting the scholarship instead of Sharpay and how it could be considered a bad choice. Considering, though, that Kelsi has written and played the piano in all of the plays that took place in the timeline of the movies, it make sense that her musical prowess would be recognized by Juilliard.
To sum up, Sharpay may have gotten the short end of the stick a few times during the HSM series, but this was because of her personality and the way she went about completing her goals. Wanting to star in a show and loving to perform with all of her heart is perfectly fine, but forcefully removing others to focus everything on her is despicable; connecting Troy with influential people would have been great if she hadn't used that to control him. At the end of every movie, though, it was great to see her accept the presence of others also existing in her life and seem to really join the Wildcat team...but she then turned that around in every subsequent movie and continued to harm others in the pursuit of her own goals.
You don't bop to the top on your own. If Sharpay had learned that, she may have earned some sympathy.