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September 09, 2010

Pilot Review: Hellcats


They had me at "I don't trust any culture that builds pyramids." More after the jump . . .

I was really quite skeptical about Hellcats. But it's on the CW, and I have learned to just watch whatever new shows they put out, because otherwise I will be sucked in and decide I want to catch up 100 episodes later and it will take me forever. (Hello, Supernatural and One Tree Hill!) It's generally safer to give them the benefit of the doubt. In this case, I'm glad I did, as I spent much of the episode grinning, and already can't wait for next week. Hellcats isn't going to be the next great drama or anything, but the pilot was a solid hour of ridiculously fun escapism.

The premise: This is one of those shows where the premise is slightly ridiculous, so it's best to just accept it and move on. Marti (Aly Michalka of AJ and Aly) is a serious, sarcastic, vaguely rebellious college student who takes up cheerleading because her academic scholarship was cut. She used to be a gymnast, so at least it makes sense that she's good. And the team needs her, because the athletics director (played by a very yummy Aaron Douglas) is threatening to cut the program if they don't place at Nationals. How Glee! That similarity annoyed me slightly, but it's a useful device for explaining why Marti is given any chance at all. She is thrown into the simulanteously uber-peppy and super-competitive cheerleading world, and there's the expected culture clash, bonding, and learning from each other.

I actually wasn't all that wild about Marti - I'm hoping I like her better in future episodes - but I LOVED the head cheerleader, Savannah (Ashley Tisdale). They start out as adversaries and end up as roommates, of course, but I was very glad that the show didn't go the easy route of making them hate each other. They're very different, but some affection and loyalty is springing up already. Savannah plays by the rules, and her world is shaken when these rules are disrupted. Her line that completely won me over? "Well, if we're going to improvise, shouldn't we make some kind of plan?" It was obvious at that point that we were kindred souls.

The supporting characters are fine, so far. Marti has a rather Dawson-like best friend, and a somewhat annoying mother, and then there are all the other cheerleaders, coaches, etc. They all clearly have a convoluted back story that I'm looking forward to learning about in future episodes. The music is fun, and so are the cheerleading routines, of course. I'm a sucker for anything set on a campus. And the ending, with a montage of famous cheerleaders (Ruth Bader Ginsburg!) leading into the new team walking into a competition together - set to a song with the lyrics "We are not what you think we are" - gave me goosebumps. Yup. The CW has hooked me again.

Two other quotes I liked well enough to write down:
"Democracy's a bitch." "Apparently so are you."
"Do you invent your own catty metaphors or is there like a book?"

Posted by Kat at September 9, 2010 04:00 PM

Okay, thanks!! It sounds like this may be worth the embarrassment of having it on my DVR. I'd only seen a couple of print ads for this, and I found the ads to be completely impenetrable - my best guess was that this was a reality show about a ladies' boxing gym, with the requisite attendant catty debauchery. Clearly I was mistaken - which is something of a relief! :)

Posted by: your cousin Liz at September 9, 2010 04:58 PM
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