Cheerleading is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about extreme sports. Netflix’s Cheer is here to change that narrative, presenting it as reputable and complex.
Netflix’s original docuseries have been continuously captivating its viewers worldwide. It seems that Netflix is periodically able to provide something for every demographic. The platform’s new documentary series, Cheer, reflects a particular form of suburban Americana. In honesty, the decision to watch the show came purely from the need to find suitable background noise. Yet the series managed to capture not only my attention but that of Netflix viewers worldwide.
What is Cheer about?
The six-episode docuseries is set primarily in Corsicana, Texas. It follows the journey of the Navarro College cheer team under their coach Monica Aldama. They are ferociously preparing to defend their championship title in the annual national Cheerleading Championship held in Daytona, Florida.
If the producers of Cheer have been successful in anything, it has been their ability to break the stereotype of cheerleading. Many have preconceived ideas of the sport, glamorised by teen movies. They see catty teenagers, obsessed with their bodies and the social hierarchy. The docuseries shows that cheerleading is about more than popular teenagers in short skirts waving pompoms.
Why you should definitely watch Cheer
Cheer shows the extremes. It features numerous falls, broken bones, daily trips to the hospital. It emphasises the journey of the group and the individual cheerleaders, highlighting endurance and obligation which not many young people have the maturity to commit to.
Episodes follow multiple individuals and their turbulent backgrounds, resonating with the viewer. The 40 members of the team are diverse, coming from all corners of America. Some have had a privileged lifestyle commonly associated with the sport. In their youth, their families spent thousands of dollars on club memberships, travel costs to competitions, and outfits. Yet there is a different part of the team too.
Relatability in vulnerability
Some members opened up about how cheerleading had the ability to save them from turbulent and unstable lives. They had faced abuse, abandonment, and even suicide attempts. Members grasp onto cheer as it keeps them driven. It allows them to have goals that are supported by the family they have formed around them. The team looks to Monica Aldama as the ultimate authority figure. Above all, they also respect her as a mother and friend.
Where does it fall short?
Cheer does have some downfalls. Most notably, it shines a spotlight on certain team members who could be considered to be of a ‘rough’ background. It blatantly fails to show the members who come from boring, suburban lives. Perhaps it does this for dramatisation, or the producers felt the most tear-jerking stories would keep viewers watching. Personally, I felt like omitting to show the stories of members who obviously hold a strong position of the team just because they seem ‘normal’ is unjust.
Overall, Cheer dives into the niche world of cheerleading, rebuffing the myth that it falls somewhere between beauty pageants and dance. It is shown to be an extreme form of gymnastics, requiring hours of practice and immense concentration.
It will leave you in awe, shielding your eyes in fear and anticipation, shocked by what you have just watched.
Cheer is now streaming on Netflix. Watch the trailer below: