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Television: Hellcats-CW’s New Cheerleading Drama Brings It On In Generic But Classy Style

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Hellcats is described by the CW Network as a coming-of-age story about Marti Perkins (Aly Michalka, “The Roommate,” “Bandslam”), a pre-law scholarship student at Lancer University in Memphis, Tennessee. Marti is a hip, edgy townie with working class roots, whose world flips upside down, literally and figuratively, when her scholarship is canceled and her well-meaning but irresponsible mother, Wanda (Gail O’Grady, “NYPD Blue,” “American Dreams”) neglects to inform her.

Broke and out of options, Marti realizes the only way she can stay in school is by resurrecting  her dormant gymnastic skills to win a place on the Hellcats – Lancer’s legendary cheer squad – and the scholarship that comes with it. Along the way she crosses paths with Savannah Monroe (Ashley Tisdale) the upbeat captain of the cheerleading squad.

Based on the book Cheer: Inside the Secret World of College Cheerleaders by journalist Kate Torgovnick, Hellcats is created by Kevin Murphy who also serves as executive producer along with Tom Welling (star of the long running CW hit series Smallville). The series also stars Heather Hemmens, Matt Barr,Robbie Jones and D. B. Woodside.

Hellcats premieres on the CW Network on Wednesday September 8th at 9PM EST. but a few of us reporter types got an advanced screener to take a look at. I was one of them. Before I had received the screener, I had heard about Hellcats and I have to admit it sounded pretty much like every other generic cheerleading dramas/comedies I had seen before. Plus the CW had already spent some time exploring the lives of high school cheerleaders in their long running teen angst series, One Tree Hill. With this in mind I am not afraid to say I was expecting Hellcats to just be more of the same formula. For it to be a yet another cast of ‘pretty people’ twenty something’s playing roles enmeshed in sex soak angst, betrayals and melodrama  interspersed with scenes of fancy dance moves.  After seeing the screener for the pilot episode of Hellcats, titled A World Full of Strangers, I found out I was right about two things: the cast is full of pretty people and the  episode is definitely interspersed with scenes of fancy dance moves. And while this is a fairly generic cheerleading story filled with your requisite cheerleader type storyline characters, Hellcats is not a One Tree Hill clone set on a college campus. I am pleased to say that Hellcats is a really fun, kind of wholesome series that is all about the spirit of competitive cheerleading without all the sappiness or oversexed raunchiness they could have so easily fallen into.

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