Now streaming on Netflix, Cheer runs for six, one hour-long episodes, following the Navarro College cheerleading team as they prepare to compete for their 14th national championship. The docuseries sheds light on the backstories of a handful of individuals, revealing that the team is made up of many young people who have been through tremendous hardship, giving them familial bonds with each other and an intense drive to succeed. The series is driven by the stories of athletes like Morgan, who was abandoned by her parents; Gabi, whose parents have made a business of her cheerleading; La’Darius whose difficult childhood included struggles over his sexual orientation; and Jerry, whose passion for cheer kept him going after his mother’s death. Navarro’s coach, Monica Aldama uses her business sense and competitive drive to build the best team and routines that she can, but she also pours her heart into the young people who come to Navarro from all over the country in order to compete in her program.
Cheerleading is not something that I am very interested in, but Cheer tells such a compelling story that it was hard not to binge all six hours at once. The stunts the cheerleaders perform are amazing and it was shocking to see how often they got hurt in practice, but what kept me watching was the human interest. Cheer is moving and heartwarming and I recommend it for weekend Netflixing.
Available on Hulu, the British series The Accident unfolds in the aftermath of a construction accident that kills a group of young friends in a sleepy town in Wales. Leona Bevan (Jade Croot) was the ringleader of the group and is the only survivor of the accident. Her father, Iwan (Mark Lewis Jones), is the town councilman who acted as the liaison between the town and the company building the new office park that was the site of the accident. The project was meant to revitalize the town’s economy, but in the wake of the building’s collapse, serious questions linger about who is responsible and why the teens were on the construction site to begin with.
Leona’s mother, Polly (Sarah Lancashire), is caught between her family and her friends who, led by grieving mother Angela Griffiths (Joanna Scanlan), are lodging a suit against the company, represented by Harriet Paulsen (Sidse Babett Knudsen). As the drama plays out, The Accident explores issues around trauma, survivor’s guilt, and loyalty.
The Accident can be really heavy. In fact, my husband bowed out of watching it with me because of the slow pace and intense interactions between the lead characters. The show was also voted “the most disappointing drama in 2019” by UK-based viewers. Nevertheless, I was still hooked by the story and satisfied by the nuance with which the writers treat the relationships and the fallout from the terrible accident. I was particularly impressed by the relationships between the female characters, such as Polly and her daughter Leona and Polly and her best friend Harriet, who find themselves on opposite sides of the legal battle. The show does move along slowly, but every moment is taut with emotion.
The performances are also strong. Sarah Lancashire is a treasure and she gives Polly a lot of conviction and strength. As Leona, Jade Croot has some difficult scenes to play after the accident and she does an incredible job bringing to life the physical and emotional toll on her character.
This show is definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but for fans of emotional family dramas and film noir, it is worth giving a try. I really enjoyed it.
The Accident was written by Jack Thorne and directed by Sandra Goldbacher. It is not rated but features some scenes of domestic violence.
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