Netflix docuseries Cheer destroys cheerleader stereotypes

It’s about discipline, focus, hard work, and being part of a family.

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“There are a lot of stereotypes that go on with cheerleading. People think that we’re dumb blondes. But we actually put our bodies in a lot of pain,” Morgan Simianer, a cheerleader for Navarro College Cheer, remarked.

These are the opening words for the Netflix docuseries Cheer, which follows the champion cheerleading team at a small Texas community college as they take on their biggest (and only) competition of the year. As Morgan goes on to prove during a basket where she lands the wrong way, this show is all about breaking stereotypes — and its impact will last for a long time.

Director Greg Whiteley does an excellent job through the six-part series to show how the nationally-acclaimed competitive cheer team takes traditional stereotypes associated with cheerleading and squashes them, just like Coach Monica Aldama encourages them to. Aside from debunking the traditional notion of a cheerleader being just a girl at a game who serve as a prop or decoration for the bigger sports team or event, this series addresses the stereotypes of being privileged, being a male cheerleader, being from a community college, and being from a small, conservative Texas town.

The cheerleaders that narrate the docuseries quickly become the viewers’ friends, and the insights into their lives, experiences, and ultimately how cheer has saved them make for a hard-hitting series. Many of the main characters are not privileged, but average college kids with baggage. The community college aspect highlights the underdog mentality as well.

Ultimately, what makes this docuseries so addictive is the chase of the big win at the NCA College Nationals in Daytona Beach, Florida. The hard work, the struggles, the desperate want — it’s what the team has injured themselves for, dedicated themselves to, and fought for all year. What the director showcases throughout this series is how intense cheerleading is, how much hard work is put into the sport, and why it should be treated with such high regard.

It’s not just about how the cheers pump up the crowd, but how they push themselves to defy their bodies’ limits and achieve greatness. It’s about discipline, focus, hard work, and being part of a family.

It can be said that a successful documentary leaves viewers with a changed point of view or opinion on whatever topic it addresses, and Cheer does exactly that. This series leaves viewers with equal parts of admiration for the sport, respect for Navarro College, and idolization of Coach Monica. It reminds viewers that giving your all is the key to success.

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