‘Cheer’ Vs. ‘Dare Me’

Which cheerleading show is on mat?

Cheerleading is having a moment, thanks to Netflix’s new documentary series Cheer. The show, which follows a championship cheerleading squad from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, is addictive and easy to binge at just six episodes.

I’ve been indulging in Sunday cheerleading nights, with a double header of Dare Me and Cheer. Dare Me is a fictional cheerleading drama based on the novel by Megan Abbott. Abbott’s novel is compelling but dreamy, as nothing really happens but bad decisions and a lot of hazy remembrances of wild nights and workouts.

In the national grand championship of my own opinion, who would win? Let’s weigh the pros and cons to see who would be ‘on mat’ in the Daytona of my heart.

Dare Me

Dare Me

Pro: All the drama is fictional, so my heart doesn’t have to hurt as much when I realize Beth is so mean because her dad moved across the street with his mistress and new daughter. This forces her to look at her dad’s new family every day, and cheer with the half-sister she hates.

Con: The action is moving very slowly, and the drama isn’t compelling enough to hold interest at this dragging pace.

Pro: We get to see some cool stunts! Plus, lots of cool and trendy teen hairstyles. Also, the show does a good job of capturing the way teens actually interact with each other, incorporating smartphones and social media in an everyday manner instead of the usual clunkiness exhibited by some shows.

Cons: We also see: a cheerleader’s bloody mouth after a kick to the face, statutory rape, inappropriate grooming behavior from the coach, sadistic ice bath challenges, and incredibly weird tension about shoes between the coach and her husband.

Pro: We’re still in the middle of the season, so I feel like there’s a lot more that could potentially happen down the road. The characters are intriguing, and it’s nice to see a lot of focus on female desire for once in a television show aimed at teen girls.

Con: Main character Beth isn’t a good actress, and main character Addy is dreadfully boring. She’s engaging in subterfuge to babysit so the coach can have an affair with her old lover. It shouldn’t be dull, but it is!



Pro: The show has a compelling, simple arc as we follow the hardworking team to the national championships in Daytona. We learn who will be on mat, and the compelling backstories of the kids, many of whom have overcome a great deal to be where they are.

Con: I’m very worried about these athletes and their little heads. Cheer shows us a ton of injuries, and that’s just in a few month’s time. Flyer Allie confesses she has had five concussions throughout her life from cheer, and she’s 20 years old at most. That’s too many concussions, Allie!

Pro: There’s incredible talent and athleticism on display. The stunts are truly impressive, and seeing the hard work behind the scenes is really interesting. You can’t help but root for these dedicated kids.

Con: The classes shown are very low quality, and our ambitious babies deserve better. In a history lesson, one teacher condemns homosexuality to a room containing several gay male cheerleaders, and smugly says Tex Mex is better than Mexican food. An impressive and incorrect display of homophobia and xenophobia.

Pro: Jerry is the best person who has ever existed. Seeing Jerry smile is like sunshine. Watching everyone he encounters genuinely love Jerry makes the world feel sane for one day. I love Jerry. Jerry for mat!

Con: Jerry graduated, so he probably won’t be back for future seasons.

I guess it’s clear that I fell in love with Cheer. Dare Me is fun in a movie of the week kind of way, but Cheer was the kind of sports documentary that everyone can enjoy and find inspiring. If you’re choosing between the two, Cheer is definitely on mat.

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Kristin Clifford

Kristin Clifford is a comedy writer in Los Angeles. She started in Chicago, studying improv and performing stand-up, but has traded the stage for the page. Recent projects include writing for season 2 of Cathy in Real Life.

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