Cheer Season 1 Review: Blood, Sweat and Cheers

January 3, 2020
Daniel Hart 1
Netflix, TV Reviews


As a sister to Last Chance U, there is no doubt that Cheer Season 1 will be loved. Let’s hope that it grabs enough attention for a much-needed second season.

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As a sister to Last Chance U, there is no doubt that Cheer Season 1 will be loved. Let’s hope that it grabs enough attention for a much-needed second season.

Netflix Series Cheer Season 1 will be released on the platform on January 8, 2020.

Netflix already have Last Chance U and it seemed unlikely that another other series could match the insightfulness of a college sport. Meet Cheer, Netflix’s new baby that surfaces the competitiveness of cheerleading at Navarro College in Corsicana, TX. This series could well and truly be Netflix’s new sporting docuseries that sets a benchmark in documentary filmmaking.

It’s no surprise Cheer Season 1 is created by the same team as Last Chance U. Every episode is filled with well-documented drama, inspiring individuality and team effort and a real drive to understand the athletes who are throwing their bodies on the line to achieve their dream. It has all the hallmarks of its predecessor; less aggressive but equally as emotional and heart-wrenching.

I’m sure many like myself will not understand how competitive cheerleading is — I approached the series with a naive mind. Cheer Season 1 opens up a world where college teams vow to be the best in the nation, winning championships and journeying to the famed grand national. The series places respect on cheerleading; it’s two and a half minutes that accompany a football game yet the sheer effort to put on that display takes a long time to prepare. And like many sports, it can be mentally and physically unforgiving. The opening episode shows injuries scene after scene.

Cheer steers clear of the cheerleader football-show approach and focuses more on winning championships. Like Last Chance U there’s a famous coach — for Cheer this is Monica Aldama. Cheer presents a coach with a soft heart but is merciless with decision making. Cheer’s strength is how they focus on Monica as a leader. You can sense her influence on her athletes; she’s a parent to these athletes but a brutal coach at the same time. It’s a fascinating combination.

Cheer benefits from the “small-town” mentality. There’s a community-feeling that enshrines each chapter. The small-town embraces their conservative-minded culture. There is pride in the town that is enhanced by a cheerleading team that brings in the honors. The small junior college has won 14 national championships since 2000 so this is hardly a rags to riches story — it’s a story that involves maintaining that winning mentality with blood, sweat, and tears.

The director Greg Whiteley makes Cheer Season 1 a profile-driven 6-chapter docuseries. Focusing on the cheerleaders adds an emotional edge to the series; their upbringing and the tenacity to face adversity within a team that demands perfection is an easy formula; it creates great television.

There is no doubt whatsoever that Cheer Season 1 will be loved, but let’s hope that it’s respected enough in the Netflix thumbnails to secure a second season.

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1 thought on “Cheer Season 1 Review: Blood, Sweat and Cheers

  • January 8, 2020 at 11:57 pm

    I loved everything about this docu series… aside from the actual atheltics program they run. I had zero insight into what cheerleaders do (I’m not American. It’s just not a thing in my country), but they have an athletics coach who just stands by and says nothing as they do “push-ups” that are so bad they can hardly be called that and just make me want to cry. Their core control was absolutely appaling and (I say this with a background in competitive gymnastics) that makes their tumbling technique and all the acro stuff cringe-worthy.
    I’m not surprised the injury rate is so high if this is the level of “professionalism” they bring into this sport. The one thing I really took away from watching this show is that they would like to be considered as a serious sport but take no advantage of the resources sports science has to offer from perfecting other sports for decades. That’s not an environment in which serious sport is played.

    Other than that, it’s a heart-warming story about how sports can throw a band of apparent misfits from all walks of life together and with the right guidance mold them into champions who will draw on the experience for the rest of their lives.

    Thunbs up for the series, and a big question mark in terms of the legitimacy of cheerleading as a sport that should be supported in the way it’s conducted today.

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