The viewing expertise of the primary season of the Netflix present Cheer was constructed on an thrilling sense of momentum. The docuseries, which follows an elite cheerleading crew at Navarro Faculty in Corsicana, TX, spent all the season constructing towards the climactic finale at a nationwide championship. Season 2 of Cheer additionally builds towards one thing, however the pleasure of the prior season is, for a lot of the season, changed with a sneaking feeling of dread.
Along with specializing in the Navarro athletes, this season of Cheer additionally spotlights Trinity Valley Neighborhood Faculty (TVCC), a rival faculty close to Navarro that has a equally intense cheer program. When the present opens, each faculties are shifting forward full throttle, making ready to face off towards one another on the NCA Nationwide Cheerleading Championship in Daytona, Fla. In fact what the viewers is aware of, however the college students training their pyramids within the fitness center within the early months of 2020 don’t but know, is that the COVID-19 pandemic will quickly ship their pyramid tumbling, canceling the occasion in Daytona two weeks out, and abruptly ending the cheer careers of a number of stars.
However this accounts for less than a part of the dread. In September 2020, Navarro athlete Jerry Harris, the gregarious fan favourite in Season 1, was arrested on federal costs of manufacturing of kid pornography and, later, sexual exploitation. The filmmakers shrink back from low cost shock worth concerning the case. As an alternative, they dedicate a complete episode to addressing Harris, focusing not simply on his alleged crimes or the response from his teammates, however on the sincere and horrifying testimony from two teenage twin boys whose accusations kicked off the investigation towards him.
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There’s a meta facet to this season of Cheer, because the present addresses itself in a fashion unusual in documentaries. The cheerleaders and coaches confront the publicity they’ve skilled since being on the present; there are clips from The Ellen DeGeneres Present and the At the moment Present that display how the solid, and particularly Harris, rose to fame. It’s a fancy feat to drag off, however director Greg Whiteley is adept on the sluggish burn.
This season of Cheer in the end looks like two seasons packaged as one. The primary half concludes with the arrival of the pandemic and the arrest of Jerry Harris. The second half largely goes again to the traditional routine of cheerleaders build up their routine forward of the 2021 competitors, although the crew is noticeably extra emotionally exhausted by this level.
At its worst, Season 2 of Cheer rehashes the identical beats it did in Season 1 (intense aggressive drive, heart-wrenching backstories). However at its finest and most potent, Cheer is in contrast to any documentary in current reminiscence. It shares the brutal honesty of two teenagers who got here ahead with accusations of sexual assault, and contends with the complicated cocktail of feelings that comes with folks studying that their beloved pal is the one accused of inflicting abuse behind closed doorways.
How does Cheer Season 2 handle the elephants within the room?
The primary season of Cheer premiered in January 2020 as a documentary collection masking a cheerleading squad in small-town Texas, and the tough-but-caring coach who managed them. Most viewers had by no means heard of Navarro Faculty, Corsicana, TX, or coach Monica Aldama. However going into Season 2, Aldama is a celeb—at the very least a large enough one to seem on Dancing With the Stars (she additionally got here out with a e book, Full Out, earlier this month). A number of of the cheerleaders who appeared on the present exceed one million followers on Instagram and generate profits filming Cameo movies of their spare time. They’re not constrained to the insular fame of the cheer world.
It’s widespread amongst actuality exhibits for the celebs to develop exponentially extra well-known between the primary season of the present and the remainder of the collection. When a present like Promoting Sundown or Actual Housewives is in its infancy, the celebs aren’t but well-known, and haven’t but turn into self-aware within the face of newfound consideration. As a result of Cheer is a documentary, the folks in it are topics, not stars—although that line will get simply muddied as soon as followers begin monitoring their lives out and in of the collection. No matter her 1.8 million followers, although, Gabi Butler nonetheless has to go to apply and get her stunts so as.
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However the present additionally addresses its topics’ fame in a method not usually seen on TV. There isn’t a fourth wall. The filmmakers frankly reveal how fame has impacted probably the most distinguished cheerleaders, and the way the cheerleaders who weren’t featured on the present really feel about it. Throughout apply, Monica huddles with La’darius Marshall to debate an upcoming press journey and advises Morgan Simianer on doing an advert for Buick. At some point, two younger women, wearing mini Navarro uniforms, eagerly wait exterior the fitness center for the cheerleaders to reach for apply to allow them to acquire autographs and take photographs.
It’s deeply uncomfortable watching these similar markers of fame—endorsement offers, screaming younger followers, showing onstage with Oprah—within the case of Harris, who has been in federal custody since September 2020 as he awaits trial. By the primary few episodes of this season, Cheer treats Harris largely like every of the opposite cheerleaders on the squad, in order to maintain the timeline chronological.
The fifth episode of this season, titled “Jerry,” is devoted solely to the allegations towards Harris and the fallout his crew experiences. Nevertheless it additionally closely facilities two of his accusers, twin brothers Charlie and Sam, who accused Harris of sexual harassment and of soliciting nude photographs starting once they had been 13.
Cheer doesn’t go into any depth in regards to the allegations past the “Jerry” episode, nor does it proceed to deal with the celebrity Jerry acquired following Season 1. As an alternative, it finds new materials by delving into the lives of a complete new crew of cheerleaders who’re far faraway from any scandal or drama that got here earlier than them.
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Which standouts from Season 1 return?
Everybody had their favourite Navarro cheerleader from Season 1 of Cheer, however not the entire teammates returned for Season 2. Navarro Faculty is a group faculty, which usually takes two years to finish, so some college students who appeared on the primary season, like Mackenzie Sherburn a.okay.a “Sherbs,” have merely graduated or moved on to four-year faculties. Different cheerleaders have been at Navarro for greater than two years, which the present doesn’t actually clarify other than the truth that they wish to proceed cheering. Gabi Butler, La’Darius Marshall, Lexi Brumback and Morgan Simianer all return for at the very least a part of the season. Harris can be on the crew for a part of the season, although not featured closely because of the allegations towards him.
This season of Cheer is cut up into two unofficial elements because it covers two faculty cheering seasons: the 2020 season minimize brief by COVID-19, and the 2021 season taking place in the course of the pandemic, and after the general public allegations towards Jerry Harris.
Most of the college students graduate or stop the crew after the 2020 season, however a couple of, together with Butler, proceed for the remainder of the season. Coach Aldama stays the ringleader of the crew, although she takes a depart of absence within the fall of 2020 to compete on Dancing With The Stars, a lot to the chagrin of a few of her college students.
Who does the present deal with in Season 2?
There’s a restrict to how a lot documentary materials you’ll be able to mine from one faculty cheerleading crew, so in season 2, the filmmakers start following the cheerleaders and coaches from Trinity Valley Neighborhood Faculty (TVCC), a faculty in Athens, TX, about 45 minutes from Navarro Faculty. The faculties are pitted towards one another as rivals, not simply due to their geographical proximity however due to their near-equal talents. The 2 groups have been neck and neck with one another on the NCA Nationwide Cheerleading Championship for a number of years, together with within the 2021 season.
This season introduces a brand new roster of cheerleaders from each Navarro and TVCC, with some clear standouts. At Navarro, there’s Maddy Brum, a extremely devoted cheerleader from exterior Boston who’s mother describes her as a “townie.” Gillian Rupert is a extra timid cheerleader who has the season’s most pivotal fall. Her finest pal is Casadee Dunlap, a bubbly woman who appeared on Toddlers & Tiaras as a younger little one. There’s additionally an assistant coach and former Navarro cheerleader named Kailee Pepper who tries to take cost, with blended outcomes, whereas Monica is on Dancing With The Stars.
There are extra standouts from TVCC, partly as a result of everyone seems to be new to viewers. Head coach Vontae Johnson, a former cheerleader on the faculty, leads the crew like a tricky uncle who’s not an excessive amount of older than the scholars. His assistant coach, Khris Franklin, was once the top coach earlier than taking a break and coming again. He’s been concerned in cheerleading for at the very least 20 years and has the benefit of additionally working as a cheerleading decide. Among the many athletes, there’s Jada Wooten, a transparent chief who provides her teammates notes on their kind. Angel Rice is a powerhouse tumbler whose mother describes her as “the Simone Biles of cheerleading.” There’s a gaggle of three (straight) male cheerleaders nicknamed “the weenies” for his or her reluctance to totally decide to the flamboyance of cheerleading regardless of their immense expertise.
The season concludes with the 2021 championship in Daytona, a two-part finale with the palpable adrenaline and pleasure of athletes who haven’t been capable of compete in two years. It’s an uplifting shift from the primary half of the season, and focuses extra on the cheering and fewer on the influence of Cheer. There’s no phrase on whether or not a 3rd season of Cheer will occur, or which topics from the present will blow up like their predecessors, but when this season finds the identical form of viral viewers as the primary, it will hardly be shocking if extra chapters of this story are but to be informed.