New Netflix Documentary ‘Cheer’
“Of course, as with any documentary project about an athletic team, the true value lies in how well “Cheer” weaves together that common pursuit and smaller portraits of the individuals making it happen.”
As a child I attended multiple cheer competitions with my Dad, avidly watched cheerleading movies and even went as far as to dress up as a cheerleader 3 consecutive times for Halloween. However, I never actually made it onto the competition floor, or even the cheer team in fact. The new Netflix documentary, ‘Cheer’ clearly summed up why for me!
The documentary immediately kills the “dumb blonde” stereotype, following the 14-time national champion team, Navarro College. Filming begins with an intense routine, clips of the team crying, in pain and yet continuing, highlighting how physically challenging the sport is. The display of athleticism mixed with circus skills some can only dream of; the documentary is inspiring a whole new era of tricks and turns. Two minutes and 15 seconds to pull off the routine of your life suddenly appears a lot more challenging than it sounds. With subtle reminders throughout the series counting down to “Daytona season” – the national competition, we see the team training harder and harder. With 40 team members and only half of those earning a place on the final mat, no one is afraid to push themselves, with 3 concussions, blisters and a bloody nose within the first episode, the series really highlights the physical toll that this sport takes.
The sport has not only helped these teens physically but emotionally. Many of them discuss that the sport has saved their lives, set in the tiny town of Corsicana, Texas, many come from troubled backgrounds and Monica Aldama, although a competitive coach stands as a role model for them. She is one of the few female coaches at the top of the cheerleading scene, with a meticulous eye and a tight air of class. She emphasizes that: “we do it over and over until its right, and then we do it over and over until we can’t get it wrong.”
The documentary concludes with the bond that a cheer team holds, from trusting to be caught after a jump to the wide acceptance of each other as people; “if the chemistry of the team is not there, and the trust and the bond, that’s when things fall apart.” The documentary perfectly balances both team spirit and the individual struggles faced by teens who’ve devoted years to a competition that lasts just over 2 minutes.
The documentary is available to stream on Netflix now and I highly recommend it for both cheerleaders and non-cheerleaders alike, especially for anyone who loves a good binge!
Romy Jan 2020©