Gone is the joy of series one, replaced with a cheerleading season truncated by Covid, stars that leave partway through the run and the darkness of child abuse allegations

In retrospect, the first season of Cheer felt a little like the last good thing to happen to humanity. It blazed in out of nowhere in January 2020; a scrubbed-up, more accessible version of American football series Last Chance U, and effortlessly won over a world that didn’t know what was about to hit it. A documentary series about the world of competitive college cheerleading, it was not only spectacular to watch – brimming with sequences of young women being pinged miles into the air without a safety net – but packed full of heart. There was a joy to Cheer, and the grab bag of underdog stories it chose to tell.

This week, the second series of Cheer dropped on Netflix and, well, the first season of Cheer still feels like the last good thing to happen to humanity. What a weird, unbalanced, curdled few hours of television this is. Just like the rest of the world, Cheer has spent the past two years growing shapeless and morose. It still qualifies as appointment TV, just don’t expect to actually enjoy any of it.

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