The second episode of [[Hellcats (TV Series)|Hellcats]] was a far more muted affair than the series opener last week. Less big dance sequences and less of the pulsating electro-pop soundtrack in the background. What we got instead was some brilliant character development and confirmation that Hellcats isn’t going to be as ditzy as you might expect a series about cheerleaders to be.
In fact, from the occasional soundbytes that we get about cheerleading, it feels like a covert attempt to change our perceptions of cheerleaders as airheads who give a T&A show at the side of football games and end up mating with the team. Last week it was “famous people who were cheerleaders”, this week it’s “cheerleading is a serious sport and can lead to serious injury”. OK, we get it. It’s not about shaking pom-poms anymore.
I Say A Little Prayer delved much more into Savannah’s character tonight, giving former Disney princess Ashley Tisdale a chance to show her serious side. We discover that Savannah’s decision to go to Lancer instead of her traditional family school drove a wedge between her and her family. When her sister – performing for a rival team – has an accident, Savannah is drawn back into their world and their disapproval once again.
It has to be said that I didn’t entirely believe The Actress Formerly Known As Sharpay could pull this role off, but Tisdale attracted sympathy and respect as Savannah, for daring to break away from her family’s wishes and make her own decisions. It really helped that Marti’s friend Dan (Matt Barr) found himself gravitating toward Savannah as he (and the viewers) got to know her better. Since Dan is a bit of a culture-snob outsider and he’s warmed to Savannah, that’s an understated seal of approval.
Marti versus Wanda
Elsewhere, Marti (Alyson Michalka) continues to struggle in her relationship with her mother. She does everything in her power to keep her mother away from the qualifiers, but nasty Alice keeps inviting her along.
To make matters worse, Wanda gets evicted after damaging her landlord’s car during an argument and Marti has to step in to save her from becoming homeless. However, when she’s finally at the end of her tether with her mother, she discovers Savannah’s secret and learns to be thankful that her mother at least cares about her.
So both characters are bringing their fair share of family drama to the show. Marti’s mother is a frustrating character, because she’s so flakey and dependent on her daughter. Though she’s portrayed excellently by Gail O’Grady, I was actually quite annoyed that Marti was forced to take out a credit card in order to support her mother.
There’s a minor plot bubbling at the moment between Hellcats coach Vanessa and Red Raymond. It’s possibly the most inexplicable thing on the show right now. In this episode, she pretended to her boyfriend that she didn’t know Red, despite their ‘history’. Of course, this kind of deceit is dramatic shorthand for a future love triangle. So, we’ll wait and see.
Dan Patch is quite a likeable character. It’s only when Marti is alone with Dan that she seems to lighten up and relax. And we saw her quite fraught juggling her responsibilities this week. But when she’s with Dan, the two friends have some entertaining banter that’s quite endearing. And I’m quite surprised that Dan asked Savannah on a date, because the Big Book Of TV Clichés states quite clearly that he must be secretly infatuated with Marti.
So far, two thumbs up for Hellcats. Really enjoying its take on college life so far.
Quotes from I Say A Little Prayer
- Wanda: “Look at that eye, you look like a truck stop trannie.”
- Vanessa: “In college sports, two thirds of catastrophic injuries to women are cheerleading accidents.”
- Marti: “I really bit her head off.” Dan: “Need help hiding the body?” Marti: “Nah, she regenerates.”
- Dan: “It’s teaching a pig to sing. It doesn’t work and it annoys the pig.” Marti: “I love pig metaphors! Now can we like slap some lipstick on it and cut off its ear and make a silk purse?”
- Wanda: “I have to imagine that a family like the Hellcats get a little bit incestuous.”
- Wanda: “Did you think I wouldn’t find out? I am Facebook friends with half your squad.”