Netflix’s “Cheer” docuseries had viewers doing backflips (and other basket-toss stunts) when it premiered in January. But fans clamoring for a second season of the “Last Chance U” spinoff, which would have likely stuck with Monica Aldama’s Navarro Bulldogs cheerleading squad, lost their pep when this year’s National Championship in Daytona Beach, Florida, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
That put series director and executive producer Greg Whiteley in a tough spot as to the possibility of a second season — you know, should Netflix have ordered one, which, to borrow a metaphor from the next “Last Chance U” sport, feels like a slam dunk. (For this story, TheWrap asked a Netflix spokesperson if there has been an update on the future of “Cheer,” but we did not immediately hear back.)
“We’re still trying to figure that out,” Whiteley told TheWrap of a potential “Cheer” Season 2. “There’s enough interest in there being a subsequent season that it’d be silly for us not to explore it. But under the current conditions it’s made it complicated, I’ll say that. We’re still working through it.”
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Season 1 of “Cheer” followed the Navarro College cheerleading team in the sleepy town of Corsicana, Texas, where they spend a semester training as hard as humanly possible for one marquee event. The team is lead by the inexhaustible Aldama, whose leadership has seen them win 13 titles since 2000. In addition to Aldama, the breakout star of the first season was alternate-turned-hero Jerry Harris and his unending enthusiasm.
In the meantime, Whiteley is occupied with next week’s debut of the fifth and final football-focused season of “Last Chance U,” which moved to Oakland, Calif. for one last blast. Netflix has also announced a spinoff of the popular junior collegiate sports series that will focus on basketball teams.
With both Whiteley series on top of mind, we also asked the documentarian if immediately found parallels between “Last Chance U” Seasons 1 and 2 breakout Brittany Wagner and beloved Bulldogs Cheer coach Aldama — and if there’s any chance he abandons the latter, a perfect reality show hero, for the potential “Cheer” Season 2.
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“I feel like you have to be careful,” he said. “While there is some wisdom in leaving people wanting more, there is this temptation to go, ‘Oh my gosh, this is such a great character. We love being around them and the audience just can’t get enough of them.’ The worst thing that you could do is just say, ‘Well, of course, we just got to go back.'”
Whiteley pointed out that all good stories need an arc, and that viewers don’t want to “just repeat the same ride.”
“At the base of what we do is illustrating some sort of arc. Who is this person? What does this person want? What is their life like? What’s at stake during the time that we’re going to be filming them? And are we able to film whether or not they get what they want, or the fallout of the stakes that they don’t get what they want?” he continued. What becomes difficult is if you have filmed that already and an audience has loved it, it’s tough to duplicate it. It’s tough to just go back. But if you do go back, you better be willing to dig a little bit deeper so that there is an arc that you can arrive at that will be pleasing for an audience.”
Check back with TheWrap next week for more from our conversation with Whiteley, as we preview “Last Chance U” Season 5.