Cheer’s season 2 exhibits the value of fame

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At first blush, I didn’t actually have any curiosity in watching the second season of Cheer, Netflix’s hit docuseries about aggressive junior faculty cheerleading. It’s not due to high quality. The primary season was a hypnotizing mix of drama, athleticism, and triumph full with real-life cheerleaders — a proficient troublemaker, a diamond within the tough, a captivating second-stringer, a diehard rookie, a famous person — and an icy, decided coach who gave the impression to be written for tv.

I liked it.

However I additionally watched as these individuals from my beloved docuseries turned real-life celebrities. It’s what occurs to a whole lot of actuality present personalities. They get on tv and the followers begin rolling in. The media consideration skyrockets, the endorsement offers arrive, after which, as a substitute of their lives creating the present, the present turns into their life.

In Cheer’s case, it will get even bleaker. In September 2020, season one star Jerry Harris was arrested by the FBI for allegedly soliciting baby pornography. Later that 12 months, in December, Harris was indicted on new fees alleging that he was soliciting minors to ship him sexually express movies and images of themselves.

Nonetheless, a good friend urged me to observe, and shortly I discovered myself fixated. The present had turned into one thing else solely. As a substitute of showcasing expertise, Cheer’s second season is laser-focused on how fame has affected America’s cheerleading sweethearts. It seems that only a small quantity of superstar can flip heroes into villains, buddies into enemies, and make successful really feel rather a lot like dropping.

Navarro turns into too well-known too quickly

The boldest transfer that creator Greg Whiteley made within the second season isn’t shying away from the influence of the present. Its success didn’t occur in a vacuum, and the primary episodes actually present you ways in style coach Monica Aldama and the youngsters turned. They met Kendall Jenner and Arizona Cardinals soccer participant JJ Watt. They had been given $20,000 on Ellen to improve their fitness center and bought to hug Oprah. They’ve amassed large followings on Instagram and a few are raking in {dollars} on Cameo. Aldama was a contestant on the twenty ninth season of Dancing With the Stars.

It’s not exhausting to learn in between the strains and see why so many children determined to return again for an additional go. A few of their rehearsed responses to media retailers, on social media, and recorded on the sequence about Navarro Faculty being “a particular place” do a whole lot of the work. They’re again in Navarro as a result of it’s a meal ticket, and any younger particular person can be an fool to not benefit from the potential endorsements, superstar, and windfall that will include a profitable second season.

Initially, Coach Monica and Navarro Faculty had been portrayed as a Blind Facet-like feel-good story. Her program, which dominates the two-team junior faculty division, was depicted as a lifeline for some troubled teenagers, probably serving to them to get away from damaged houses and tough streets, and into faculty. Whereas there are professional questions about what it means to take younger, weak individuals and put them in bodily punishing conditions, the present’s story was one of many psychological and bodily sacrifice it takes to attain greatness.

Fame empirically adjustments that equation.

It turns the Navarro narrative into one thing else solely. It doesn’t really feel as pure or nearly as good while you notice that perhaps the youngsters didn’t come again as a result of they wanted a life lesson or Coach Monica’s self-discipline. Perhaps they simply wanted to money in on one other season earlier than fame runs out. You’ll be able to nearly style the acidic resentment from workforce members who weren’t featured on the primary season after they’re interviewed this time round. It doesn’t take that many episodes for a few of these workforce members to pivot their private tales towards the digicam.

Cheerleading!
Courtesy of Kyle Alexander/Netflix

Within the season one finale, it seemed like a second season was unsure as a result of Varsity Spirit, an organization that controls main cheerleading match protection, didn’t appear to take pleasure in Navarro being filmed for its first season. Varsity didn’t permit Netflix’s crew entry to the Nationwide Championship, and pictures from Navarro’s efficiency was captured by attendees.

The opposite large query was if the present was going to proceed given the very severe baby abuse fees in opposition to star Jerry Harris. A second season of Cheer wouldn’t be truthful and doubtless wouldn’t exist if it didn’t study Harris’s investigation and didn’t have workforce members and Aldama talking out about it. Whereas the present handles it instantly, the individuals on it typically falter.

The present, then, isn’t actually in regards to the cheer program in any respect anymore, as a lot as it’s about how inconceivable it’s to wield fame.

It’s this huge superstar and luck that makes it, at instances, tough to empathize with Coach Monica when she complains about her life and the negativity from individuals on her social media. Her newfound fame has introduced newfound haters, as is par for the course. She comes off as an individual who doesn’t absolutely acknowledge the quantity of fame, status, and goodwill she’s obtained in such a brief period of time. Watching somebody get what they — and lots of different individuals — need, and battle with it at all times makes for a fancy, even alienating viewing expertise.

The make-or-break second within the sequence occurs when Coach Monica accepts an invitation from Dancing With the Stars. To be able to preserve her participation a secret, she retains her workforce in the dead of night, which is comprehensible. Certain. However just a few interviews together with her squad reveal that she was unreachable whereas filming, which eroded their belief in her. In her absence, a brand new assistant coach named Kailee Peppers asserts her energy. Aldama selected the present, and the status that got here with it, over teaching her workforce. That second all however sours the promise that “coming to cheer for Coach Monica” used to carry.

Monica says that it’s partly due to the Dancing with the Stars fatigue and highlight that she couldn’t correctly cope with the surprising and infuriating baby porn allegations going through Jerry Harris. The second season’s fifth episode lends its platform to the dual boys who allege that Jerry sexually assaulted and coerced them, and contains interviews with their mom.

Monica, we’re instructed from season one, cares about every of her children and teaches them to be good people. Jerry’s alleged habits calls her relationship with him into query. With mounting proof in opposition to Jerry and new indictments, Monica’s response is to complain about how she’s receiving negativity on social media, as a substitute of marked concern in regards to the very grave fees Jerry is going through, and for the well-being of the youngsters who had been allegedly concerned. The coach who cares appears to be scripting this incident off with an “I don’t know.”

If Cheer’s season one is about sacrifice — bodily damage, pared-down social lives, transferring to a nowhere city in Texas, relentless practices — to attain greatness, season two is an unvarnished have a look at how that payoff can convey its personal set of issues.

Enter: Trinity Valley

The second season of Cheer additionally advantages by having underdogs to root for in Trinity Valley Neighborhood Faculty, Navarro’s important rivals. Within the first installment, they’re portrayed nearly like villains, the one workforce that stands in the best way of Navarro’s future. However now they’re again, reloaded with a famous person rookie class, however with out Navarro’s glitz, glamour, and $20,000 facility improve courtesy of Ellen DeGeneres.

Jada Wooten, a TVCC veteran who needs to take down Navarro’s Instagram-famous Goliath in her final 12 months, is simple to root for. It’s do or die for Jada this time round. She takes it upon herself to offer pep talks, to push her teammates, and to show TVCC right into a household unit.

She’s the right-hand girl of coach Vontae Johnson, who appears to supply a stark counter to Monica. Jada and her teammates credit score him with serving to them be higher. Vontae factors out that Navarro has its decide of polished athletes able to compete (a tv present will assist you to try this), whereas he finds athletes who’ve probably the most potential.

Jada, of Trinity Valley Neighborhood Faculty’s cheer workforce.
Courtesy of Kyle Alexander/Netflix

Meaning educating Jada to beat her psychological block and turning the “Weenies,” a gaggle of uber-talented younger males that defy gravity, into performers. The large downside with the Weenies is that regardless of their incredible tumbling, they’re hung up on showing masculine, and don’t need to smile or sass the best way cheerleaders are speculated to.

Whether or not or not Vontae and his sidekick coach Khris Franklin can form this workforce right into a nationwide champion and beat their extra well-known rivals turns into the central pressure of the again half of the season.

At some factors, the Trinity Valley workforce feels as if they had been particularly created in a lab to be the right foils and underdogs to the Navarro juggernaut. Navarro has a brand new stage, whereas Trinity Valley unfurls their raggedy mats earlier than each apply. Navarro’s famous person Gabi Butler is Instagram-famous, whereas Jada is comparatively unknown to viewers. Navarro’s group of veterans is aware of the best way to win, whereas Trinity Valley is counting on rookies like dynamo Angel Rice. It makes for electrical TV, and because the present has given Navarro sufficient slack to show themselves into villains, it’s exhausting to not root for Trinity Valley of their nationwide championship showdown.

What’s peculiar about this, although, is that the whole sequence underscores that that is all too good to be true. Fame is cyclical; it imploded Navarro, and Trinity Valley is up subsequent to enter the superstar meeting line. The highlight has an uncanny means of unearthing secrets and techniques and testing character, in ways in which Trinity Valley hasn’t but confronted. Movie star killed Navarro’s feel-good story, and there’s no cause to suppose the identical couldn’t occur to TVCC.



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