Why I’m Still Stressed Over Netflix’s Cheer

Netflix’s Cheer is the new docuseries that everyone in your feeds and your text threads is binge-watching right now. The show about a community college championship cheerleading team on their way to a national competition is highly addictive for lots of reasons:

  • it highlights the ways cheer is often misunderstood
  • it exacts empathy for athletes who often go unnoticed
  • it pays tribute to the competitive spirit
  • it introduces some truly unforgettable people

But more than anything … it truly stresses me out.

We Can!

First of all, these precious children worked incredibly hard to get into the TOP cheer program in the NATION, and they are in the tiniest of all tiny Texas towns, and chainsaw massacres happen to naive babies in circumstances like this. The opening episode of Cheer could be the first hour of a horror movie and I would not be incredulous. The documentarians are out here focusing on strained looks and intense faces and open roads and battered buildings and I am 75% sure this is going to be the true crime docu I didn’t know I had clicked on.

Don’t believe me? The first 25 seconds of the trailer is classic horror tropes. It screams: what monstrous end awaits these beautiful children? WHO IS GOING TO HURT YOU?


And then …

We Will!

You find out what and who is truly hurting them. CHEER ITSELF. Look, I was a bookish, theatre and literature loving overachiever in high school, who only cheered once in the 5th grade, and found the entire sport a mostly mockable waste of everyone’s time. When my daughters have played sports and cheerleaders have been there, making Loud Noises, I have been known to roll an eye or two and probably offend a matriarch.

But I did NOT understand. This is not a frivolous exercise in wearing too big bows and committing glitter crimes. There is athleticism and sportsmanship and teamwork and PAIN on the line. These young athletes are pushing themselves to unforeseen levels of extreme strain to create a truly beautiful bit of athletic showmanship. Flyers, stunters, bases, tumblers – they are all elite and terrifying athletes.

And they are all in serious danger.

We Must!

Look here, Cheer. You introduced me to precious Jerry Harris. His smile and his gregarious nature have endeared him to me forever. Why in the world would you give this precious nugget a family and a purpose and then not let him make mat? WHY ARE YOU THE WAY THAT YOU ARE, CHEER?


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Just a DAWG trying to get a bone 🍖🐶 #Firstyear PC📸: @jerryhughesphoto

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And hey you, Cheer! You brought Lexi Brumback into my life to be the real life Luna Lovegood I’ve always wanted to root for, and YOU {SPOILER ALERT} tell me she’s no longer good enough for the team?? Do you need a real reason to fight? Well. “You got the right bitch to put you in the wrong motherf—ing place!”

And excuse me, but is this an entire episode about La’Darius Marshall’s bad attitude when we’ve already been apprised of his heartbreaking story AND fallen in love with his super enthusiasm and doe-eyed countenance? This will not stand, Cheer.


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All American 2019 ❤️🐾

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And beyond it all. You are gonna tell me all about precious Morgan Simianer’s tiny ribcage and then make me watch her fly through the actual air and get caught with less finesse than a salmon at a fisherman’s wharf and expect me not to call the cops? Her ribs are smaller than a Christmas ham; they cannot take this pummeling!

And yet …


Despite its infinite horrors, this show is full of heart and hope and heroism. Monica Aldama deserves an Emmy and an Olympic Gold Medal in Coaching My Soul Back From the Depths. At the very least, get her a blue checkmark on Instagram. Her positive energy and pep-talking interludes were almost enough to dilute the absolute fear and dread I felt during the entire last episode of the series. The idea that Navarro Cheer MAY NOT WIN after all these hours of falling in love with them while they fell on their heads??? SHERBS FORBID. I was unwell.

So am I still stressed? Yes.

  • I don’t know what FIOFMU stands for, and it was all over the show like a portentous Hitchcockian easter egg
  • I hear Lexi is back on the team, but I am still worried she didn’t make it home ok from that rave
  • Who is protecting Morgan’s ribs?
  • Navarro is only a TWO YEAR COMMUNITY COLLEGE … where in Monica’s Good Name are these children going to continue their burgeoning careers as the lights in my life?

Watch Netflix’s Cheer RIGHT NOW.

From the team behind Last Chance U, Netflix’s documentary series Cheer follows the competitive cheerleaders of Navarro College in Corsicana, TX. Led by Monica Aldama, the small junior college has won 14 National Championships since 2000. The stakes on the mat are high, but for these athletes, the only thing more brutal than their workouts and more exceptional than their performances are the stories of adversity and triumph behind the team members themselves. Over the course of six episodes, viewers will join the Navarro College cheerleaders as they face injuries, sacrifice, personal setbacks and triumphs, all leading up to one nail-biting and adrenaline pumping final competition at the National Championship.

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