By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette
*SPOILER FREE REVIEW*
When viewers last left the cheer team of Corsicana’s Navarro College, the squad had just won the 2019 National Cheerleaders Association-National Dance Alliance College Championship in Daytona, Florida. The season’s final episode wrapped up the adventures of the Middle American cheerleaders, while head coach Monica Aldama began preparations for the 2020 competition.
Directly picking up where fans last saw the team, Aldama and Season One’s breakout cheerleaders are treated to visits with Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey. The young athletes interview Hollywood’s biggest stars on the red carpet and begin new paths as celebrity influencers. There’s a feeling of empathy toward Navarro College tumbler Lexi Brumback when she confidentially states 2020 is “going to be a good year,” and by all indications, there’s little reason to believe otherwise.
Indeed, the future looks bright and the show’s early tone remains familiar as the clock once again ticks down for their inevitable Daytona showdown with Athens-based Trinity Valley Community College.
Cheer‘s signature countdown clock, however unintentional, leads Season Two toward a very different and unpredictable experience.
While Aldama and the Navarro Cheer team retain the majority of the show’s focus, the season’s nine-episode run is now shared in equal measure between Navarro’s and TVCC’s stories. Trinity Valley Coaches Vontae Johnson and Khris Franklin lead their team in hopes of championship glory, their last title won in 2017. Viewers are introduced to a selection of their competitors: Jada Wooten, Devontae “Dee” Joseph, and Angel and Jaden Rice.
While Navarro’s Season One stars return, new faces are added to the roster: Maddy Brum, Payton Sykes, Brooke Morosca, and “besties” Cassadee Dunlap and Gillian Rupert.
Season Two is a challenging installment of the Cheer series. Teams are broken by the COVID-19 pandemic as Daytona 2020 is canceled, and schools are closed. Navarro College and Aldama herself faced one of the biggest shocks when breakout star Jerry Harris was charged with sexual assault towards a minor in September of 2020. Harris was not part of the Navarro team at the time of his arrest.
Season Two does not shy away from these allegations. In an episode simply titled “Jerry,” the show discusses everything in a mature and thorough manner. In light of the series’ numerous young cheerleading fans, parental discretion is advised for this episode.
Despite numerous hardships, the season shines in its most humanizing moments as both teams maintain a sense of unity and camaraderie in their struggles. There’s a sweet moment where two young girls rush up to Aldama and cheerleader Gabi Butler in a Navarro College parking lot for autographs, a reminder of the impact these local athletes have with the community, and one of several personal moments highlighted through interviews and candid conversation.
When the two teams meet for their inevitable showdown in Daytona, local viewers may know how this story already ends, but the show still offers a handful of surprises in the journey to get there.
It’s difficult to predict what the impact of Cheer Season Two will be. Any docuseries will always have a narrative, and Cheer‘s is the yearlong road to Daytona. What the show can’t guide are the raw and emotional moments. The sense of real that comes in moments of darkness and in hope. The struggles to make sense of an achingly confusing year and a half, and finding the direction to continue moving forward.
In 2020, the cheerleading show about two little Texas towns became a global phenomenon and curiosity for those who had no idea what the cheerleading world was about. For Navarro College and the Corsicana community, the show’s players are more than just characters on a television screen. It’s an opportunity to see something far more personal.
It’s a look at home.
Special thanks to Evan Graham and Daryn Lee of Netflix for their invaluable coordination of this advance screener.
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