Former pom pom girls nationwide will be able to stroll through their personal memory lanes as they watch the girls of Kentucky’s Dunbar High School tackle competitive cheering in the unscripted series “Cheerleader Nation.” Tone of the pilot suggests we’ll see a community unfold and develop, but then again, the principal players are teen-age girls so anything is possible. Fans of the pic “Bring it On” will certainly be enthralled.
Skein opens with tryouts for the varsity squad at a school that is vying for its third consecutive national title, a feat that hasn’t been achieved in 20 years. Choreographer and coach are task masters, and their goal is to assemble a crew of 22 girls who excel at tumbling and other gymnastic feats. They have a lot of talent to choose from, and it appears the girls see their commitment to cheering as an unbreakable vow.
Naturally, there are many domineering mothers here. “She chose cheerleading because I chose it for her,” says one mom, reflecting on a choice many made for their kids when they were in elementary school and even kindergarten. From the stories that emerge at the tryouts, there’s only one girl, a senior soccer player, attempting to make the squad for the first time; the rest are lifers.
Surprisingly, one girl says she is the only one with divorced parents and as we hear from a few of the moms, the parental time commitment borders on a full-time job. On top of that it’s expensive. The girls, however, are a mixed batch: One defines herself as a cheerleader and with no place on the squad, she is nothing, while another notes it’s a big part of her life but not her whole life. Producers clearly found ace ways to draw distinctions among these girls.
Production values are outstanding, and the producers have captured the appropriate tension and devotion that surrounds this world. Coming attractions hint at the construction of a championship team and not so much the personal drama among the competitors.