I thought I couldn’t love anything more than The Circle, but I was wrong. After Netflix released the final batch of episodes last Wednesday and crowned the winner, I was left with a hole in my heart (and my schedule) that I didn’t think could be filled until Law & Order, original flavor was finally released on streaming this Spring. I was wrong. I’d like to introduce you to my new favorite docuseries, Cheer.
Oh. My. God. I. Love. Cheer.
It’s Bring it On meets Friday Night Lights—only it’s real and Coach Taylor is a woman, y’all. Cheer is a docuseries set in the small town of Corsicana, Texas, that follows the Navarro Junior College cheerleading squad as they get ready for the pinnacle of the sport, the National Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida. This team is no joke and has won multiple times in the past, thanks to their head coach Monica Aldama.
The routines are terrifying to watch because they defy gravity. Here’s their winning routine in 2015:
The show, which has 6 one-hour episodes, follows the team as they prepare for the biggest moment in their sport. Much like Friday Night Lights before it, Cheer takes the time to let you get to know the athletes on the squad, the positions they fulfill on the team, and in a few instances, what their life is like off the mat. We meet their parents, their grandparents, and see them interact with their friends while they deal with the pressure of being on an elite squad, and the expectations that come with that. I am not ashamed to admit I’ve cried multiple times throughout this show—in particular when (my tied-for-favorite squad member) Jerry’s life was being discussed. I want nothing but good things for Jerry. Jerry is the best, and he’s had a rough go of it in his young life.
Jerry is the heart and soul of the team, constantly reinforcing everyone’s performance with his “mat talk,” which is cheerleading speak for the opposite of s*it talking. Jerry always has a smile and an encouraging word for everyone, and I just love him. I’m pretty sure you will too.
Then there’s Lexi (my other favorite) an absolute beast of a tumbler, who doesn’t quite fit in with the other cheerleaders, but whose talent is undeniable.
I never thought much about cheerleading, and certainly never thought about it as a sport (although to be fair, I don’t really think about sports in general.) Cheer changed that. The elite level the Navarro squad operates at is a marvel to witness—and sure, I watched some of their practice sessions with my hands over my eyes, because I’m aware of the effects gravity has when you’re tossing someone into the air and hoping that they’re caught, but holy cats. It’s a joy to watch anyone operating at the top of their game, and Cheer is no exception to that, especially because it takes the time to let you get to know the athletes and the sport. Their wins and setbacks become your own and you get very involved. Unlike other sports, once your collegiate cheering is over, your time in the sport is over, too. There are no professional teams to join, nowhere else to go but retire and figure out what to do next. That knowledge, which is explored in Cheer adds a layer of bittersweetness to the journey the athletes are on because for many, this is their last chance at achieving greatness in the sport they’ve devoted the majority of their young lives to.
Cheer is a fantastic show, which I cannot recommend enough, and if you’re like me and wondering what to do now that it’s ended, well, Friday Night Lights is available for a (re)watch on Hulu.
Header Image Source: Netflix