A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, in spite of some skimpy outfits, sexy dancing, implied sex and gratuitous shots of washboard abs, this cheerleading-themed drama that's built around a pair of Disney Channel alums is comparatively tamer than others like it on prime time. The language rarely gets saltier than the occasional "hell" or "damn," and most characters generally prove to be strong role models. Although it's set in college, it will likely appeal to teens and tweens -- particularly those who love to cheer. But the sexual content is best left to older teens who can understand the consequences.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
When her scholarship gets cancelled due to a slip-up, street-smart pre-law student Marti Perkins (Alyson Michalka) tries out for Lancer College's competitive cheerleading squad to secure funding for her classes -- and, before she knows it, she's one of the high-flying HELLCATS. But while Marti's moves could help the squad win the national championship, her unconventional style rubs a few of her new teammates the wrong way. Team captain Savannah Moore (Ashley Tisdale) is on her side, but manipulative rival Alice (Heather Hemmens) doesn't always play nice.
Is it any good?
The basic premise of a rough-and-tumble outsider joining the in crowd
is hardly new -- in fact, we've even seen it in other cheerleading
movies before. (On the big screen, we'd simply call this Bring It On.) But that doesn't mean that Hellcats
is a total snooze. On the contrary, in spite of some cheesy dialogue and
misguided montages, it's an earnest (but admittedly sexed-up) look at a world of serious
teamwork, intense competition ... and skimpy midriffs. If you can get past a
few eye-rolling moments, Hellcats is a heck of a good time.
A much-altered Tisdale -- who was once as well known for her blonde hair as she was for her over-the-top antics as Sharpay in the pop blockbuster High School Musical -- is barely recognizable as the squad's uber-responsible brunette captain.
But it's a good change, and she provides much-needed balance to
Michalka's often-overwrought attempts to look rebellious. (Side note: At Lancer College, having curly hair means you're "edgy.") For a couple of Disney alums, these kids have done all right.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about cheerleading and its overall image in the public eye. Do you view cheerleading as a "real" sport? Why or why not? What position does this show take when it comes to associating cheering with athleticism?
Does the series treat cheerleading seriously, or is there a bit of cheekiness at play? Does playing up cheerleading's sexier aspects take away from the argument that it's a competitive sport?
How realistic are the characters when it comes to the things they say and do? How does this show compare to other series and movies you've seen about cheerleading?