It’s hard to look at cheerleaders and not immediately see their insane talent – working in teams, dancing perfectly in sync while under the dazzling lights of sports stadiums, it’s obviously super cool, but growing up in Australia you might not be aware of just how ludicrously intense cheerleading can get.
Fans of Bring It On will know a bit – competitive cheerleading is one step away from bloodsport, the highly competitive, super technical and entirely fabulous sport takes the sideline entertainment of other sports to the centre stage in ways that defy common sense.
Netflix’s latest documentary series, Cheer, follows students of the current US champions, Navarro College, as they train for the championships, featuring gripping stories from all of the team members as well as plenty of death-defying stunts performed by the team.
With bodies grafted of seemingly pure muscle, it’s exhilarating getting to see these kids practice up their moves to perfection. In the words of head coach Monica Aldama, “you keep going until you get it right, then you keep going until you can’t get it wrong”, and these cheerleaders do with staggering dedication. Pushing through pain and overcoming injury, the team goes through a lot and you will be so completely invested by the end that you’ll feel every up and down with them (fortunately your Netflix subscription will not forcibly break your ankle in sympathy, though).
It surprised us to learn, too, that so many students participate in this gruelling sport when there are very few career paths at the tail end. We could not imagine working so many hours for a skill that you might not get to use ever again after just two years of competition, but that makes what these teams do even more impressive.
All six episodes of Cheer are available to stream now on Netflix.