Original Content podcast: Netflix’s ‘Cheer’ provides a gripping, painful look at competitive cheerleading

“Cheer,” a new documentary series on Netflix, may be singlehandedly changing the way many people think about cheerleading.

The show follows the competitive cheerleading team at Navarro College in Texas as they prepare to compete once more in the national championships, and it quickly becomes clear that this is a physically demanding sport, requiring extraordinary strength and coordination — and resulting in serious injuries when things go wrong.

Those injuries have spurred a broader conversation about whether or not coach Monica Aldama, along with the organizations and institutions that behind competitive cheerleading, are doing enough to protect the cheerleaders. We had very different opinions on the issue, and on Aldama herself, leading to an extended debate on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast.

One thing that we all agreed on, however, is that the documentary offers an illuminating look at a world that most of us only knew through the teen comedy “Bring It On.” It’s filled with compelling characters — not just Aldama, but also many of the students on her team, with the show taking the time to sketch out their often difficult or even tragic childhoods.

Before our review of “Cheer,” we also discuss a report that Netflix laid off part of its marketing team as part of a broader shift in promotional strategy.

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:

0:00 Intro
0:43 Netflix marketing news
8:27 “Cheer” spoiler-free review
43:27 “Cheer” spoiler discussion