“Cheer” Season 2 would have been far less fascinating had it overlooked how quickly the show became a success when it premiered in January 2020. It was an unavoidable blockbuster hit for Netflix weeks before the virus slammed most of the world to a halt, and its Texan cheerleading subjects were made overnight celebrities regardless of whether they wanted the spotlight.
Among the many places they appeared were Ellen, DWS, and Oscar’s red carpet. They became social media stars on Instagram and TikTok. Millions of people around the world identified with them as characters that were both approachable and aspirational, and they got emotionally invested in the outcome of a cheering competition.
The second season of “Cheer” might have easily followed the same path as the first. To avoid the “Tiger King 2” road, the film may have focused on a quick acknowledgment of the series’ influence, then resumed previous storytelling practices. It’s a fascinating study of what it’s like to be part of the Netflix phenomenon that burns fast and too bright, thanks to the direction of Greg Whiteley and his team.
The second season of “Cheer” opens with the Navarro cheerleaders reeling from the shock of becoming famous in an instant, even before the pandemic hits and Jerry Harris, the team’s most beloved member, is indicted on federal charges (more on that later).
Their verified Instagram followers are a source of constant amusement for them, and they’ll hug Kendall Jenner on TV or take part in any promotional effort that comes their way. An early clip shows the team cheering their way through a commercial for a neighboring bakery as well as a YouTube stunt at a nearby farm where the owner couldn’t care less about Netflix, let alone YouTube.
This is particularly unpleasant.) It doesn’t take long for Coach Monica Aldama’s steely demeanor to attract a steady stream of media appearances and motivational speaking engagements.
A lot of stuff looks exciting, but the talking heads don’t seem to be all that enthusiastic about it. As a team, they remain stable but the underlying tension of their newfound fame is obvious in practice, despite their best efforts to keep it a secret from each other.
When it comes to receiving $25,000 checks from Ellen DeGeneres, there’s no way Navarro Junior College would have been able to do it without being on a popular Netflix show.
In general, though, “Cheer” portrays the entire event as dreadfully awful. With Aldama and her youthful staff struggling to reach their newly insatiable audience, I felt like I was watching “The D’Amelio Show,” the unexpectedly depressing Hulu sitcom about two adolescent sisters trying to parlay their TikTok stardom into long-term jobs.
Whether it’s dancing, singing, or cheering, the euphoria of a celebrity always transforms a once-gratifying hobby into something more planned and joyless. Despite what they claim, it appears that the subjects of these docuseries are more afraid of being in the spotlight than they are excited about it.
However, the most notable exception to this norm was also the largest unknown heading into the second season. He was clearly Cheer’s biggest breakout star: Jerry Harris, the dedicated reserve cheerleader who became known for his “mat talks” following the show’s premiere. Fans and fellow cheerleaders alike fell in love with his contagious energy and contagious smile.
More celebrities gushed over him than the other way around when he hosted “The Ellen Show’s” coverage of the Oscars red carpet. One of his mat speeches was requested by Oprah (Oprah!). If anything, “Cheer” is even more poignant considering that the season begins by realizing how far he has fallen. Formerly effervescent and ubiquitous, Harris has been in prison since December 2020 on allegations of soliciting sexual photographs from kids, after being taken into custody in September of that year.
Establishing this as a fact from the beginning sets the stage for the upcoming season, which began recording long before the charges were made public and will continue through the team’s eventual dissolution. In a weaker version of this presentation, Jerry might have been deleted as much as possible, his fate stated in a fast sidebar, and the story would have continued.
The cheer was a huge hit because of its ability to empathize with its victims’ plight, and it goes double in this appalling situation. It’s hard for Aldama and Harris’ friends to get through talks about it without breaking down in tears, and their astonishing expressions show it.
Whiteley’s decision to not only devote the fifth episode to the charges, but to turn most of that episode over to the boys who first spoke out about Harris’ alleged crimes, their mother, and their attorney, is the most striking aspect this episode.
The boys recount their experiences and explain how Harris’ celebrity in the cheerleading world — and, thanks to this very Netflix series, well beyond — made it so difficult to come forward with their stories with the heartbreaking patience of people who have had to tell a painful story too many times.
Despite this, the moment they finally decided to say anything is immensely significant. It wasn’t until the lads watched Harris chatting up President Joe Biden on FaceTime that they decided to bring charges against Harris. They were torn between wanting to make their way in cheerleading without fear and holding Harris accountable.
It was more than just frustrating for Harris to be on the cusp of stardom; it was downright hazardous. As a result of Netflix’s role in catapulting Harris to popularity, this meeting would not have been conceivable without Netflix’s role in Harris’ stardom being made so clear.
When the Navarros and their equally charismatic Trinity Valley adversaries finally meet on the Daytona Beach stage for their long-awaited battle, the second season of “Cheer” becomes notably less self-reflexive. A pair of small Navarro superfans are the only ones who notice Harris’ absence at an event before realizing that he would no longer be present. In spite of everyone’s best efforts, the cloud of his betrayal continues to envelop everything.
Exhausted by her time on “Dancing With the Stars” and the news that she has been diagnosed with COVID, Aldama descends into a state of melancholy. Harris’ boyhood buddy La’Darius Marshall, who came out with charges of abuse in Season 1, has learned a lesson from Aldama’s abrupt departure for Los Angeles and subsequent disappearance.
Despite their best and most determined attempts, the newly formed squad fails to gel after Harris and the epidemic fractured it. Yes, Navarro has more backing and resources than ever before — and far more than Trinity, whose team is practicing in a dirt parking lot with old mats while Navarro is on a brand-new stage that is a duplicate of the one they’d compete on in Daytona International Speedway..
However, in Season 2, the ripple effects of star-making swiftly become an overwhelming and inescapable tsunami. The college students who opened out about their often-difficult upbringings became role models for others who shared their experiences, which was an honour but also a huge burden they never anticipated. Aldama, the team’s lone stalwart, stumbled under the weight of threefold increased expectations. Cheerleading’s sunniest avatar, an alleged predator, made it even more difficult for anyone to speak out against him.
“Cheer” has so much going for it: the story, the characters, and the stunning filmmaking that bring them to life. Because of Netflix’s amazing global reach, the show’s enormous popularity has also highlighted the high price of stardom for individuals who aren’t ready for it.
Although “Cheer” might have continued to produce the same types of stories that made it so popular in the first place, it is more ambitious, insightful, and meaningful to acknowledge its own involvement in placing its protagonists on the brink of fame’s double-edged sword.