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TV Review: Hit the Floor

VH1's Laker Girls-like cheerleader soap approaches so-bad-it's-good territory

With:
Kimberly Elise, Taylour Paige, Logan Browning, Katherine Bailess, Valery Ortiz, McKinley Freeman, Jonathan McDaniel, Robert Christopher Riley, Bernard Curry, Melissa Molinaro, Don Stark, Dean Cain

Although the obvious comparison is to CW’s short-lived cheerleader drama “Hellcats,” “Hit the Floor” — a terrible title for VH1’s soap about, to cut to the chase, the Laker Girls — bears a closer resemblance to Lifetime’s “The Client List,” in that it’s so trashy and terrible, it’s kind of good. Graduating to a professional squad in Los Angeles (the appropriately tempting Devil Girls) the show provides all the requisite ingredients — sex, money, sports and an excuse for the camera to pan leeringly over glistening bodies. VH1 hasn’t taken many shots in the scripted genre, but this one should score.

Drawing from just about every cliche imaginable, the series begins with newbie Ahsha (Taylour Paige) at tryouts, eager to follow in the footsteps of her single mom (Kimberly Elise). Fresh-faced and naive, Ahsha quickly befriends squad member Raquel — a single mom (Valery Ortiz) with a deadbeat ex — but runs afoul of the imperious team leader Jelena (Logan Browning), who sees her as a threat.

The cheerleaders answer to manager Olivia (Charlotte Ross), and the basketball team is coached by Pete (Dean Cain), whose players seem helpfully oblivious to his admonitions not to mess with the cheerleaders. Then again, since one of those trying out, Kyle (Katherine Bailess), is a stripper trying to maximize her tips, well, let’s just say rules were made to be broken.

Created by James LaRosa, “Hit the Floor” (originally dubbed “Bounce,” which isn’t much better) has plenty of moments where the dialogue approaches wince-inducing levels — like the player who hits on Ahsha by saying, “I see my chance to score and I attack” — and talks about the Devil Girls as if they were some sort of sacred religious order.

Yet even that oddly works to the show’s advantage, if only for sheer kitsch factor. Moreover, the setting not only provides “Dallas”-like glamour but an additional roster of temptations thanks to its Los Angeles setting. Similarly, the backdrop creates a built-in excuse for incorporating elements, including choreographed dance numbers and music, from a number of other popular shows.

It’s all highly calculated, obviously, but still kind of hard to resist — and as lighter summer fare overlapping with the NBA playoffs, it’s pretty well timed. Like VH1’s earlier “Single Ladies,” the multiethnic cast should also attract a variety of audiences, even if the gals are far more convincing as cheerleaders than most of the guys are as pro basketball stars.

“I may not be the best dancer here, but I know how the world works,” Kyle tells Ahsha — a bit of stripper wisdom that, for better or worse, applies to the TV world, too. Now get limbered up, Devil Girls, and go strut your stuff.

TV Review: Hit the Floor

(Series; VH1, Mon. May 27, 9 p.m.)

Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by the Film Syndicate.

Crew: Executive producers, James LaRosa, Maggie Malina, Bryan Johnson, Jeff Olde, Jill Holmes; co-executive producer, Keri Flint; producer, Cyrus Yavneh; director, Sanaa Hamri; writer, LaRosa; camera, Paul Sommers; production designer, Chase Harlan; editor, Melissa Kent; music, Michael Corcoran, Eric Goldman. 60 MIN.

Cast: Kimberly Elise, Taylour Paige, Logan Browning, Katherine Bailess, Valery Ortiz, McKinley Freeman, Jonathan McDaniel, Robert Christopher Riley, Bernard Curry, Melissa Molinaro, Don Stark, Dean Cain

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