The Untold Truth Of Netflix's Cheer

Five, six, seven, eight — who do we appreciate? Why, the stars of Netflix's Cheer, of course!

The docuseries — created and directed by Last Chance U director Greg Whiteley — premiered on the streaming service on Jan. 8, 2020, quickly becoming a popular must-watch among Netflix users (via Mashable). A six-episode series, Cheer takes viewers on a wildly entertaining journey to Corsicana, Texas, introducing them to the members of Navarro College's highly-regarded cheer team. Under the guidance of coach Monica Aldama, the Navarro cheerleaders navigate familial struggles, peer drama, and college life as they tirelessly rehearse their routine for the National Cheerleaders Association's championship in Daytona, Fla. Spoiler alert: They win. 

Since Cheer's Netflix debut, viewers haven't been able to stop praising the athleticism and discipline of the Navarro squad, especially standout cheerleaders Jerry Harris, Morgan Simianer, Gabi Butler, Lexi Brumback, and La'Darius Marshall. Chrissy Teigen admitted to finishing the series in a single day, and Reese Witherspoon took to Twitter to sing the praises of Coach Monica. Celebrities — they're just like us!

Here's a look at the untold truth of Netflix's Cheer, the show that has everyone going full-out.

Coach Monica Aldama spoke out after Mackenzie Sherburn's accident on Netflix's Cheer

Netflix's Cheer shined a light on the incredibly intricate, often dangerous stunts meticulously rehearsed by competitive cheerleading squads. Throughout the Netflix documentary series, viewers watched as the Navarro cheer team painstakingly practiced a pyramid formation, only to drop top girl/flyer Mackenzie "Sherbs" Sherburn during a run-through — effectively putting the cheerleader on the sidelines for the rest of the season. 

Speaking with O, coach Monica Aldama revealed Sherburn's accident inspired major changes to the routine to ensure the safety of Navarro's cheerleaders. However, as Aldama explained, the process of choreographing a safer routine wasn't shown on Netflix's Cheer. "You saw the falls that we had," Aldama told the publication. She continued, saying, "But it didn't show the other thousand times that we were doing progressions and trying to do easier things before we did the hard things, and all the times we did it perfectly and all the times that the kids sat out when they were injured."

Added Aldama, "I do want to make sure the audience does know that we do take great concern and care for their health."

That classroom scene in Netflix's Cheer played out differently in real life

In the very first episode of Netflix's Cheer, viewers were provided with a glimpse into a classroom at Navarro College, complete with an overly enthusiastic teacher lecturing a room full of visibly bored college kids. 

Giving an "overarching, quick look at Texans," the teacher can be heard praising the Quaid brothers and NASA before diving into other subjects. "Tex-Mex, it's the best ever," she says. Explaining that Tex-Mex isn't "real" Mexican food, the teacher then tells the students, "It's a way better version of Mexican food."

Jerry Harris, a fan-favorite Navarro cheerleader, seemed wholly unimpressed during the teacher's lecture. However, in an interview with Vulture, Harris seemed to imply that viewers were perhaps given a skewed perspective on the Tex-Mex-obsessed woman. "I think they just caught my face at a weird point," Harris said, explaining his confused facial expression. Calling the teacher "awesome," Harris continued, "She was just describing how it was different, how [Texas] was different back then, and you guys didn't hear the part where she was comparing it to the way it is now."

Netflix's Cheer star Gabi Butler took to social media to defend her parents

Gabi Butler was a star within the cheerleading community before Netflix's Cheer became such a runaway hit; however, the docuseries' portrayal of Butler's relationship with her parents left some viewers concerned for the famous cheerleader's wellbeing. 

Throughout Cheer, viewers watched as Butler's parents micromanaged her life, forced her to post on social media, and encouraged their daughter to eat jackfruit so she could go longer without having to stop for meals (via Bustle). Disturbed by what they saw, some fans took it upon themselves to reach out to Butler directly — prompting the cheerleader to take to social media to defend her parents. 

"I want to clear something up," Butler wrote in a post on Jan. 8, 2020. "My parents are amazing and have always been there for me. Every time I have made money from cheer opportunities it has gone into my own account." Added Butler, "So please stop with the negativity towards them. They are my biggest support system and have helped me to be on top of my game."

The parents of Netflix's Cheer star Gabi Butler are reportedly mad at the creator of the docuseries

In a February 2020 interview with KCRW, Netflix's Cheer director Greg Whiteley revealed he felt he owed the parents of star cheerleader Gabi Butler an apology for the way they were portrayed throughout the docuseries, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

Admitting he didn't portray Butler's mother and father in a very nuanced way, Whiteley revealed, "It's a very cheap way to move a story forward." He continued, saying, "I think there's a better way. I think even villains become more interesting when you understand why they do what they do."

When asked if Butler's parents are mad at him for the edit they received in Cheer, Whiteley said he thinks they are. However, he doesn't blame them. "What I think I could have done a better job as a storyteller is in fleshing out the other elements of [Butler's parents]," added Whiteley. According to the director, Butler's father has reportedly been known to anonymously pay the tuitions of financially challenged cheerleaders — a good deed never mentioned throughout the Netflix docuseries.

Navarro's competition music heard on Netflix's Cheer is customized just for them

As anyone who has watched Netflix's Cheer can attest, the competition song for Navarro's Daytona routine is impossible to forget. Just one watch of the docuseries will undoubtedly have most people chanting, "It's a dog-eat-dog world," for weeks to come. However, according to Patrick Avard — the man behind hundreds of cheerleading mixes — some folks simply don't understand the song's appeal. 

"People who haven't been exposed to cheerleading, they don't really understand it," Avard told Vulture. He continued, laughing, "So, hearing this cheer mix, they're like, 'Man, what is this? I've never heard anything like this.' For us, it's normal."

According to Avard, he and his production company, New Level Music, combine a healthy mixture of voiceovers, song, and sound effects to create the most hype-worthy competition mix for Navarro every year. "My job is to inspire [the cheerleaders] to perform," Avard told Vulture. He continued, explaining, "My other job is to try to train the crowd and inspire the crowd to cheer and react at specific moments, by building the energy a certain way."

The stars of Netflix's Cheer won't reveal the meaning behind FIOFMU

Social media undoubtedly provides plenty of welcome behind-the-scenes glimpses into the lives of Netflix's Cheer stars; however, the one thing it doesn't provide is the meaning behind FIOFMU. The acronym has been a source of much mystery since Cheer's Netflix debut, with the Navarro cheer team often sprinkling it throughout the captions of their Instagram photos with no explanation. 

Unfortunately, it appears inquiring, Cheer-obsessed minds won't be getting an explanation anytime soon. When asked about the meaning behind FIOFMU during an interview with Refinery29, Morgan Simianer responded, "It is just a meaning behind Navarro. So, once you go through the program, you learn what it is." Simianer continued, saying, "People have been posting on social media about it and I'm like, Y'all are never going to find out."

Of course, the cheerleaders' refusal to spill the beans won't stop fans from wondering. "Currently wishing I could become a Navarro cheerleader just to find out the meaning of FIOFMU," one fan posted to Twitter. 

Netflix's Cheer has celebrity superfans

There's no question that Netflix's Cheer was an instant hit with viewers — and the docuseries was apparently compelling enough to attract the attention and praise of various mega-famous faces who also found themselves unable to look away from Navarro's journey to Daytona. 

In a January 2020 tweet, Reese Witherspoon praised Cheer's Monica Aldama, writing, "When Coach Monica said she had a lot of career choices but all she wanted to do was coach these [Navarro College] cheerleaders, I started to think about all the female coaches who we never see in movies or TV that are changing kids lives." Added Witherspoon, "And I cried again!" Even Olympic gymnast Simone Biles was impressed by the athleticism and tenacity of Navarro's cheer team, writing on Twitter, "[Cheer] had me convinced [that] after 2020 I'm trying out for Navarro Cheer."

In a February 2020 interview with Cosmopolitan, Gabi Butler casually mentioned Broadway star Ben Platt was a fan of the show, telling the publication, "We went to dinner with Ben Platt, and he was telling us, 'You know I never truly realized what cheerleading was about, and this series really opened my eyes.'"

The stars of Netflix's Cheer have a group chat with Coach Monica Aldama

There's much to be gleaned from Netflix's Cheer, like the athleticism required to succeed in competitive cheerleading, the trials and tribulations faced by people of all backgrounds, and the power of a support system. Of course, one of the biggest takeaways from the Netflix docuseries is the admiration the Navarro cheerleaders have for their beloved coach, Monica Aldama, who often serves as the primary mother figure for many of the team members. 

"I wear a lot of hats," Aldama said in a January 2020 interview with Women's Health. She continued, explaining, "I have to be a mother figure. I have to be a disciplinarian. I have to be an advisor, a counselor, so many different things."

Fortunately, as the coach explained to Women's Health, she values the close relationships she's cultivated with the cheer team members throughout the years. "We all stay close," Aldama revealed. She continued, telling the publication, "We talk in our group chat from last year's team quite often. ... We're constantly talking to each other in that group chat throughout the year even though those kids aren't here."

Netflix's Cheer star La'Darius Marshall went viral before the show's debut

La'Darius Marshall was one of the breakout stars of Netflix's Cheer, quickly earning his spot as a fan favorite with his no-nonsense attitude, infectious energy, hilarious quips, and endearing friendship with Jerry Harris. However, Cheer wasn't Marshall's first brush with fame.

If Marshall looks familiar, it's likely because he was catapulted to internet fame in 2018, thanks to a viral video featuring the high-spirited cheerleader rooting on the Navarro College players as they competed against the Georgia Military College football team. 

In a 2018 interview with Good Morning America, Marshall said, "I feel that the video going viral was just a glimpse into my life and how I am all the time." The cheerleader continued, saying, "Going viral made so many people happy and that's what made me happy — receiving so many messages ... about how I made people's days better and cheered them up. [It] makes my heart happy."

Lexi Brumback wasn't totally happy with how Netflix's Cheer portrayed her

Navarro cheerleader Lexi Brumback was one of the most compelling stars on Netflix's Cheer, leaving fans wide-eyed and slack-jawed with her immensely impressive tumbling skills. In the very first episode of the Netflix docuseries, Brumback even admitted she'd probably be in jail if it weren't for the Navarro cheer team. However, by the end of the six-part series, it was revealed that a run-in with the law had resulted in Brumback being booted from the team, and viewers watched as she seemingly reverted to her old ways and attended a rave. 

Fortunately, Brumback was allowed a second chance and rejoined the team after the docuseries wrapped filming. However, while Brumback's story might technically have a happy ending, the cheerleader told Entertainment Tonight she wasn't totally pleased with the way Netflix's Cheer portrayed her lifestyle. 

"...The rave scene that they put in the last episode actually happened months before Daytona," Brumback explained. She continued, telling ET, "They kind of just made it seem like when I left [Navarro] that I was just gonna be screwing up and everything. I actually went to school, just not to Navarro."

Coach Monica Aldama was terrified during this scene from Netflix's Cheer

Throughout Netflix's Cheer, coach Monica Aldama consistently appears to have nerves of steel. Despite being faced with multiple injuries suffered by some of her most vital performers, Aldama never loses her cool. Instead, she usually keeps her distance, calmly asking the cheerleaders if they're alright and contacting appropriate medical personnel. In one particularly memorable scene following Mackenzie Sherburn's fall, Aldama examines the cheerleader, gently assuring Sherburn by acting as if her injury was fairly minor. However, while walking past the other cheerleaders to grab her belongings, Aldama mutters, "It looks bad. I just didn't want to say that to her."

Speaking to The Cut, Aldama revealed that her cool and calm demeanor is far from a reflection of her actual emotions. "When we were at finals and Austin [Bayles] got hurt, I was proud of myself because I literally went into focus mode," she explained. Recalling the scary moment captured in the final episode of Cheer, Aldama continued, "And although I was terrified, I couldn't even go there because I was so focused on what we needed to do to fix it in a very short time span."

The crew members of Netflix's Cheer were like family to the show's stars

Greg Whiteley, creator and director of Netflix's Cheer, is just as impressed with the Navarro cheer team as you are. 

In a January 2020 interview with Mashable, Whiteley opened up about how filming the Netflix docuseries opened his eyes — as well as the eyes of Cheer's film crew — to the world of competitive cheerleading. "I think they are the toughest athletes I've ever filmed," Whiteley told Mashable, praising the cheerleaders. He continued, saying, "And that was surprising to most of us on the film crew..."

If Monica Aldama's February 2020 interview with Bobby Bones is any indication, the admiration is definitely mutual. Speaking with the radio show host, Aldama revealed, "The film crew ... we became really close with them. They became like our family." Aldama continued, "They were our biggest cheerleaders. They would get excited when we would hit the routine and stuff. They weren't a distraction at all."

These Netflix's Cheer stars came back to Navarro

After the mega-popular docuseries premiered on Netflix, many of Cheer's most beloved stars revealed they'd returned to the place where it all started. 

"...[I] was missing Navarro so much so I reached out to Monica [Aldama] and asked if there were any openings for me and she said yes, so I decided to seize the opportunity to make myself happy and do what I wanted to do," Jerry Harris told Esquire, revealing he'd left the University of Louisville to return to the Texas town. La'Darius Marshall also revealed to Esquire that he'd made the move back to Navarro, telling the publication in January 2020, "I moved in this semester."

In a February 2020 Instagram post, cheerleader Gabi Butler announced she was back at Navarro for one last hoorah, posting a photo of herself with Aldama and writing, "Getting the chance to be coached by you one last time is truly a blessing." The star of Netflix's Cheer continued, "I love you Monica... this one's for you."

Would the stars of Netflix's Cheer be open to a second season?

Soon after Cheer's Jan. 8, 2020 Netflix premiere, fans began calling for a second season of the engrossing docuseries. "Season 2 of [Cheer] needs to be confirmed and filmed right now," one viewer tweeted. Added the fan, "And don't y'all dare try to go anywhere except Navarro."

At the time of this writing, Netflix has neither confirmed nor denied plans to release a second installment of Cheer. However, the streaming service's silence hasn't stopped inquiring minds from questioning the stars of the docuseries about a second season. "Of course, I think a Season 2 would be amazing," Gabi Butler revealed in a January 2020 interview with Entertainment Tonight. Butler continued, "I think it's super hard because Season 1 is so good, so it's like, 'Oh, how are we going to top Season 1?'"

According to Monica Aldama, the stars of Netflix's Cheer are still basking in the glow of the first season. "We're just excited to be here right now and have Season 1 and just the love and support of Season 1," Aldama told Us Weekly. She added, "So, we'll see [about Season 2]."