It's hard to shake the exploitation vibe from any visual medium dealing with cheerleaders, and The CW's latest teen drama Hellcats doesn't even try. This hour-long drama embraces its roots in bad B movies revolving around scantily clad, jiggling nymphets. And that's definitely the best thing going for it. If you've come to watch hot young ladies thrust their naked pelvic region at the camera as if they can't wait for DirecTv's 3D channel to get here quick enough, then you've come to the right place. The show is strategically timed to give you a full-on robot chubby every six minutes, dolling out the angsty drama in eager spurts as to not have you running away from the television for an earned moment of self-gratification too soon.
Yes, the sexiness is brought forth tenfold, and the producers even found a way to make that annoying High School Musical actress Ashley Tisdale, here playing the captain of her cheerleading squad, both attractive and interesting past her mid-riff baring costume. She has the Kirsten Dunst role in what is essentially a reboot of Bring It On told from Eliza Dushku's perspective. Alyson Michalka is Marti Perkins, a tough chick from the wrong side of the tracks with an alcoholic mother and a tuition that needs to get paid. She's a former gymnast, just like Dushku's Missy Pantone, and this could essentially be that character's college years as Marti strives for a degree in Law.
Faced with dropping out of her Memphis school of choice, she learns that the campus cheerleading squad offers a scholarship. As luck would have it, one of their star members has fucked up her wrist, so an impromptu cheerleading audition is being held. Despite despising these bouncing balls of horny flesh, Marti realizes this may be her one and only chance to earn enough money to stay in college. So we get one steamy dance number in her mother's tiny shoe box apartment, where she breaks lamps and furniture, twisting and shaking her pomp pomps with a wide, knowing smile, winking at us couch voyeurs of America, who she can definitely feel watching. Not four minutes go by before she is leaning over a set of bleachers, draped only in a tiny cut-off sweat shirt and camel toe-reveling tights, offering us the best look at her body a prime time broadcast television show can offer Then, she is back, dancing hard and fast. Alyson is definitely there to give us guys in the crowd a charge of electricity. And its quite a show.
The stakes aren't very high though, as we know this is a weekly series about cheerleading. Perkins and Tisdale's Savannah Munroe have a slap-fight in the Guidance Councilor's office the day before the big try out, and it works nicely in setting up a moment of tension between the two actors. Especially since Munroe is also judging the cheerleading contest that is so crucial to Marti's future. In a surprising turn of events, Savannah is quite taken with Marti's prowess on the court and nabs her for the squad right away. Before you can blink twice, Marti has moved into the squad's dorm and is sharing an intimate moment with Ms. Munroe on the bed. They are on their way to becoming best friends, just like Missy and Torrance. But that doesn't mean Perkins hasn't made a few enemies in the thirty-minutes since we were first introduced to her.
In the pilot, rivalries that will span twenty-two episodes are gingerly set up. Quite a few members of the squad don't like Marti on sheer principle. Alice (Heather Hemmens), the girl with the bum wrist, hates that her position has so clearly been replaced by this hot-box blonde who is now dancing with her stud of a male cheerleading partner. And Marti's own sorta-boyfriend (the relationship isn't clearly defined just yet) is growing mighty jealous of her hands-on approach with the dancing dudes who support the bottom of this flesh pyramid. It's all high school hallway drama, despite being set on a college campus. In a generation where 60 is the new 40, 20 hasn't even climbed off the swing set yet, and it certainly shows.
Hellcats is damn dirty fun and a mindless endeavor. The biggest bit of drama conjured up here is between Marti and her alcoholic, waitress mother (scene stealer Gail O'Grady). The woman is an embarrassment and an emotional drunk. Marti makes it clear to Savannah that she wants her mother nowhere near their first day on the field. Of course Alice overhears this. Of course Alice goes to Wanda Perkins and invites her to the big game. This leads us to the big "to be continued" moment of the week, which these CW teen dramas are so famous for. What is the big emotional outburst at the game going to look like? How embarrassing will it be? But more importantly, what sort of new leg-bending moves are we going to see preformed on that fake grass? We, as an audience of tit-hungry voyeurs, certainly need to know what we'll be seeing week after week in terms of spank bank coverage.
Hellcats is Glee for heterosexual males and tattooed lesbians. Its also the second series this year, after Memphis Beat, to take place in the heart of Memphis, Tennessee. Though, there isn't one character here, not even the mom, who sounds like she lives in the state. If Marti never told us where she was going to school, we'd assume she was in Southern California. Maybe the series will get better at selling its supposedly southern roots home as it forges ahead.
And forge ahead it will. This series has its recipe down pat. Hot girls. Sexy moves. Enough easy drama that we won't strain ourselves. It's a weekly Drive-In movie that we'll be ashamed to admit we watch. But we'll watch it anyway. This certainly looks like another hit for the CW, and it will be interesting to see this premise spin off its heels in good old fashion One Tree Hill manner. Bring It On, indeed!