Netflix Original Docuseries “Cheer” An Insight to the Real Truth of Cheerleading

Poster for Netflix's new docuseries

Poster for Netflix’s new docuseries “Cheer”.

By Marija Kraljevic , Arts and Entertainment and Photo Editor

Released on Jan. 8, the latest Netflix Original docuseries “Cheer” reached the hearts of millions around the United States. The show features the Navarro College cheerleading team and their journey as they compete at the National Cheerleaders Association national competition in Daytona, Florida. The show captures the struggles and truth behind the sport itself as the team works hard day and night over a series of months perfecting their routine, and doing whatever it takes to be number one.

The Navarro Cheerleading team has a strong history of winning number one at Daytona. They’ve secured 13 NCA National Championship, 14 by the end of the series, and five grand National Championships. With being based in the town of Corsicana, Texas, the cheer team is the prime success and most prominent feature of the small town.

The six-episode series highlights what cheerleading is today and how the stereotypical cheerleaders most people see is not what cheerleading is about. It encompasses the level of difficulty the sport plays on one’s emotional, physical, and mental state of mind. As a former cheerleader, this show is anything but fake or like a reality show as any cheerleader can relate to the many obstacles of cheerleading that the docuseries illustrates.

The cameras beautifully capture the shots of the flyers soaring up into the air 20 feet from the ground from their basket as they do a back tuck into a pike position, and hit two full twists while falling into the arms of their two boy bases. One of the top girls, or top flyers, is thrown into the air, and dives upside down, falling into the arms of her bases and then flings herself up into the shoulders of other flyers standing in the air.

The elite stunts that these athletes do are insane and do end up taking a toll on their bodies. The docuseries demonstrates how dangerous the sport is as the athletes throw their flyers up in the air and with a small mistake, everything could go wrong and have people getting seriously injured. One scene shows a flyer falling to the side as she was supposed to, but with no one catching her which leads to her dislocating her elbow.

Not only does the show bring out the physically challenging aspect of the sport, but also the mental strength one needs to have in order to excel in the sport. A prime example is early social media star, Gabi Butler, who journeys between college, cheer, family, her fans, and keeping up her social media presence. Butler is a key athlete on the team and top flyer and tumbler, but the series reveals that she’s just like any other person who has mental breakdowns and tries balancing between her health and her crazy life, just like everyone else.

Other than the challenges of cheerleading, the show documents the stories of a few out of the many athletes on the team and their stories of who they are and how they got to Navarro. La’Darius Marshall is one of the top stunters and tumblers on the team who lifts the flyers and tumbles like crazy, proving to be a great asset to the team. On the show, he explains his story on how he became the “over-the-top” person that he is today, and why cheerleading saved him from his past and taught him to be a better person in the world.

Another key athlete that’s featured on the show is Jerry Harris, who tells his story of how cheerleading influenced him to be the cheery and happy person who’s always there for everyone. Harris wears his heart on his sleeve and takes everything into consideration, especially how his mother sacrificed everything for him to be where he is today. Harris even cheered on the Allstar team ICE in Naperville, Illinois.

The queen that has coached the Navarro College cheer team for 20 years and earned them 14 national titles is the one and only, Monica Aldama. A Corsicana native, she’s been cheering for her whole life and grew up in the heart of Texas. In the docuseries, you understand how her mind works and what it takes to be successful and win as many titles as she has for a cheer coach. The love she has for her athletes and passion she has the sport make her one of the best things to watch on the show. She treats her team like family and never hesitates to defend them or help them put on the best show that they can when performing the routine.

With the raw and real footage of the show, the emotional rollercoasters during practice, and inspiring storylines of the athletes, this show is amazing. It proves that cheerleading is more than just yelling words on the sidelines and that it requires a lot of effort physically and mentally in order to hit a stunt, tumbling pass, or motion in a routine. The amount of teamwork needed is extraordinary, which is what makes cheerleading special. I highly recommend this show if you have Netflix, the six hours of watching this series is worth it and I would give this show a rate of ten out of ten.