Despite the immense amount of fame they have experienced since “Cheer” first premiered in 2020, the Navarro cheer team remains in the gym in their small town in Texas, just trying to “make mat” for Daytona. Taking the world by storm,“Cheer” season one allowed everyone a look into the reality of junior college cheer and cheerleading as a sport. Season two only further exposed the behind the scenes of the cheer world within and surrounding Navarro college.
Netflix’s hit show “Cheer” premiered January 8, 2020. Created by Greg Whitele, the docuseries just recently released their second season. A variety of people’s stories are told throughout the season, however, the most featured people are: Monica Aldama, Gabi Butler, Jerry Springer, Le’Darius Marshall, and Maddy Brum. Many from season one were brought back, bringing comfort to viewers.
Navarro Junior College in Corsicana, Texas is well-known for their impressive cheer program. “Cheer” was created to show what the training was actually like. Cheerleaders like Brum came to Navarro to escape from their difficult home lives which were shared on the show. Brum grew up in Massachusetts with her father incarcerated and a scholarship to an all-star gym that her family could not afford on their own.
Unlike season one’s full focus on Navarro Cheer and their journey to Daytona Cheer Competition, season two took a different approach by sharing the story of their rival junior college, Trinity Valley and their cheer team. The season production spanned over a full two years as the struggle of COVID came up while filming.
Navarro’s rival junior college, Trinity Valley, shared its journey to Daytona on the show as well as their differences in strengths from Navarro. Their power was their next-level tumbling, while Navarro’s was their overall performance and personality. Trinity Valley’s head coach, Vantae Johnson led the team with passion and even got Navarro’s choreographer to come to his side and choreograph for their team whereas Navarro had to use his assistant.
The immense excitement and love for the first season of “Cheer” created high expectations for a second season. Season two successfully continued on the legacy, though in a way we found slightly less interesting. This season was definitely necessary to catch everyone up on the years since the show first premiered and addressed serious issues like Jerry Springer’s sexual abuse allegations.
The episode titled “Jerry” went deeper into these disappointing and heartbreaking allegations. Jerry was well-known and loved from season one for his encouraging “mat talk” and bright personality. The news came out that he was under FBI investigation for inappropiate sexual misconduct around September 2020, in the thick of filming. Without the docuseries and the media portraying Jerry’s “America’s Sweetheart” personality, the victims of his assault may have never come forward. The episode raises awareness for those who want to have a voice, but may be too scared to. When the victims of these allegations spoke out about their experiences, the reaction of team members was surprising and yet expected. Monica Aldama, who served as a mother figure for Jerry, was stunned by the news and unable to speak to the press. His teammates, especially Gabi Butler had a similar reaction, as she refused to accept the reality.
In general, much of this season was focused on the experience of rapidly gaining fame. “Cheer”’s success obtained opportunities for the cast to go on popular shows such as Good Morning America, Ellen, and Dancing with the Stars. The new rookies coming into Navarro also had to endure the effects of the fame as Monica had to take time off from coaching for TV show appearances and media interviews interrupted practices.
Whiteley has a history of creating shows focused on sports and athletes, such as his other hit show,“Netflix’s Last Chance U” which follows lesser known college football teams including those at community colleges like Navarro of “Cheer”. The athletes that are featured on “Cheer” are now mainly social media influencers and public figures. Some are still on the Navarro team as they have the option to stay past college age years to continue with cheer.
The Navarro Cheerleaders came to the team with a variety of backgrounds. However, the bond on the gym floor left them wanting to come back. Despite the difficulties they faced throughout season two, including Jerry Springer’s sexual assault allegations, and a challenging practice schedule, the docuseries was able to portray the excitement and unity within a college team. A sport one which one would typically think to be simple is revealed to hold layers of deeper connections between athletes and coaches.