Judge Cynthia Boris is strangely obsessed with cheerleaders. Ask her about her spirit fingers sometime.
"Everything's On the Line"
Every year, thousands of women across the country audition to become official NFL cheerleaders. In places like Dallas, Miami, and San Diego—where the cheerleaders are as recognizable as the football players—these positions are highly prized. It takes a lot more than a pretty face to succeed. Little boys dream of becoming football players, little girls dream ofMaking the Squad.
Making the Squad is a documentary / reality series that was produced for the NFL Network. The show follows a dozen or more girls as they go from try-outs to training camp, and finally onto the field as cheerleaders for three major franchises: the Miami Dolphins, the San Diego Chargers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The process is the same in all three series; only the faces are different. The cameras capture awkward audition moments (including forgotten steps and literally tripping over one's own feet), the anxiety of the process, judge debates, the thrill of victory, and the tears of those sent packing. In addition to the auditions and a look at the girls personal lives, the series covers the rigors of training camp and the ever-popular NFL Cheerleader Swimsuit Calendar shoot. You'll see the girls go from pretty to dazzling as they're made over by hairdressers, makeup artists, and fitness gurus. You'll find that being a pro cheerleader is a lot harder than it looks.
The saving grace (or downfall, depending on your point of view) ofMaking the Squad is that it's more documentary than reality show. You will see real people dealing with what comes their way, both good and bad. You won't see the high drama and cat fighting that has become synonymous with reality TV. Maybe it's the editing or maybe it's just true, but every girl shown on screen is polite, humble, and gracious to her fellow auditioners, even when ousted. It's refreshing to see a group of young women who aren't pissing on each other's beds or calling each other names. Of course, these girls don't have to live in the same house together for the length of the experience.
These cheerleaders have lives outside of the squad. Though cheering appears to be a full time job with the rigors of training, performing at games, and attending more than 400 public appearances, many have full time jobs. Some are in school (even high school) and a couple have kids. It takes dedication to run six miles in 100-plus degree heat and then present yourself in a bikini for scrutiny by two women who hold your future in their hands. And that brings me to the mamas of these squads. These women are tough! They are brutal when it comes to choosing the perfect girls for their squads, even making the veterans re-audition every year if they want to keep their spot.
While I enjoy the audition and practice portions of these DVDs, the male members of the audience will likely gravitate toward the sexy swimsuit calendar photo shoots that are included in each one of these DVDs. The shoot locations are gorgeous—but the skimpy bikinis and provocative poses really catch the eye. Novice models all, these girls really work it. It's interesting to see how much work goes into getting the perfect picture.
The Miami Dolphins DVD appears to have been one of the first shows filmed. The video quality isn't up to the standard of the other two. And instead of having cheerleader extras, it has three short NFL football promos. In general, the players in this piece aren't as charismatic as the ones in the other two.
The Buccaneers DVD is my favorite of the three. The squad director here really shines. She's tough and no nonsense but she was much more enjoyable than the directors on the other two videos. This DVD and the Chargers DVD offer up a half dozen cheerleader bio promos as extras. Sadly, there's no new footage here; it's just a cut and paste job of the film that featured that particular girl. Come on, NFL, where's the footage that didn't make the final cut? That's the stuff I want to see.
I watched the entire Making the Squad series when it aired on the NFL Network, drawn in by my strange obsession with cheerleaders. (Bring it On is one of my favorite flicks.) Even as I watched, I wondered who was the intended market for the series. The bits of T&A in the sexy swimsuit photo shoot segments were obviously intended to attract men. But how many men will actually sit through the auditions and beauty salon makeovers? I guess that makes these the perfect DVDs for football loving couples to watch together.
No pyramids? No basket tosses? No spirit fingers? And you call yourself cheerleaders? Not guilty.
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