The Hellcats Pilot Has Little to Cheer About

Screen capture from The CW series Hellcats showing male and female cheerleaders looking at each other during a routine
A scene from Hellcats on The CW

The new fall TV season began Wednesday night with Hellcats, the latest series on The CW aimed at the 16-year-old girl in all of us. The drama stars Aly Michalka and Ashley Tisdale, two products of the Disney Channel ingenue factory, as college cheerleaders in Memphis. Michalka plays a law student who scoffs at cheerleaders until she loses her scholarship, a fact overlooked by her boozy mother (played by the buoyant Gail O'Grady). Fortunately, the plucky young woman has a hidden reservoir of gymnastic and sensual dance talent that wins her a spot on the team.

Ashley Tisdale plays the captain of the team, a single-minded obsessive who writes motivational phrases on people's bodies. The two women clash briefly, with Michalka calling Tisdale a "groupie" and Tisdale calling Michalka a "goth," but they quickly end up as roomies. There is, unfortunately, no sexual tension in their relationship.

Though the show is based in college and chock full o' sexy cheerleaders, the pilot for Hellcats was as squeaky clean as an Archie comic book -- aside from one scene where a male cheerleader dropped his towel and asked other male cheerleaders to visually inspect his nether regions. He did this as a bonding moment with Michalka, who was hiding nude in a bathroom stall and needed to borrow a towel. I was surprised, but not displeased, to learn that college cheerleader locker rooms are coed.

There's no chance I'll watch this series unless O'Grady starts wearing cheerleader outfits, but I am so far out of the target audience as to constitute a separate species. There's a remarkable lack of dramatic potential outside of the standard plot that the team must win nationals or be disbanded by an evil school administrator.

Kaitlin Graham is the only former TV Deadpool winner to put Hellcats on her list. I kept it off mine because it's on The CW, where it's impossible to tell how low a series must be rated to be cancelled. The pilot finished third for the hour among women 18-34, the demographic the network cares about, so I'm feeling cheery about my decision.

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