Give us an "R!" Give us an "E!" Give us an "A!" Give us an "L!" What does it spell? Well, the good news is that Canadian reality show Cheer Squad, which you may have caught on Freeform, is probably real and not scripted.
The 10-episode docuseries — which debuted on Canada’s ABC Spark network in July 2016 before hitting Freeform two months later — tracked the Great White Sharks of Cambridge, ON, as they pursued a third World Champion title. And though we’re all jaded TV watchers who question anything billed as “unscripted” entertainment, by all accounts, this show was the real deal.
Better yet, a recapper for the website Cheer Theory said the show “gives an accurate sense of what it’s like to be an all-star cheerleader,” and listed 14 things it got right about that esteemed level of cheerleading. For example, the series accurately showed that “cheerleading is a time-intensive sport (almost year-round), and before Worlds, you can kiss your social life goodbye.” The Cheer Theory post also highlighted quotes from the episodes that seemed particularly authentic — e.g. “Hitting your routine is the holy grail in cheerleading” and “Cheer is my boyfriend.”
When the show premiered, Cosmopolitan interviewed cast member and Great White Sharks star Jordan “Knoxy” Knox, who left home at the age of 17 to pursue all-star cheerleading. “I was more excited for people to see exactly what competitive cheerleading is like,” the then-21-year-old told the magazine.
“Cheerleading has evolved so much since it started that people don't even realize how big of a sport it is now. People have stereotypes about cheerleading. I’ve heard it my whole life that cheerleading isn’t a sport, and we just wave pom-poms around. But I think they did a really good job of showing the true athletic side of cheerleading in this show.”
And speaking of true-to-life depictions, Jordan also commended cheerleading movies Bring It On and Fired Up! for their authenticity. “I think they actually did a really good thing for our sport,” she said. “Obviously, cheerleading has progressed a lot since then, but Bring It On and Fired Up! and all those kinds of movies were the first ones to show what cheerleading actually is, and show that we throw people in the air and do flips all over the place.” Somewhere in Hollywood, Kirsten Dunst is smiling…