Let’s get the lazy, obvious and annoying comparison out of the way first: Hellcats builds on the success of current pop culture favourite Glee. The show is to cheerleading what Glee is to choral societies.
Alright? Happy now? Here’s the thing, while Glee works in big, allegorical sweeps with lots of colour and borderline nonsensical characters (Rachel Berry, I’m looking at you), Hellcats has a touch more realism in its approach. Which I’m kind of thankful for, because while it shares a similar setting to Glee, that’s where the similarities end.
The pilot episode, A World Full of Strangers, introduces us to Marti Perkins (Alyson Michalka) – a pre-law student weighed down by her unreliable mother, who is almost kicked out of university when her mother forgets to pay her tuition fees. An opportunity to gain a scholarship presents itself, but Marti must join the university cheerleading team. Yes, the same team she described five minutes earlier as “football groupies”.
And so, without further ado, Marti is thrown headlong into the world of cheerleader tryouts. Along the way, our cast is gradually being established: the ‘peppy’ Savannah (Ashley Tisdale), who writes messages of positivity on her friends’ arms; instant enemy Alice (Heather Hemmens) who establishes a dirty tricks campaign against Marti before the end of the episode.
Love interests present themselves in the form of Lewis Flynn (Robbie Jones), a member of the Hellcats who takes an instant shine to Marti. And Marti’s ‘friend’, Dan Patch (Matt Barr), who is currently doing an outstanding job of pretending to be platonic friends. Yes, like you could ever be platonic anything with a pert, tousled-haired blonde with abs you could bounce pennies off.
Yes, the cast of this series is alarmingly attractive. Which is not a complaint on our part, Mr Welling. Keep up the good work.
It’s quite easy to see with this opening episode how the story is likely to progress. We’ve got a nemesis, a screwed-up mother, the requisite threats to the finance of the Hellcats team. Even the coaching staff look set to have a simmering sexual frisson.
There were some wonderful set pieces, including that cheeky hat-tip to Bring It On as Marti practices a routine for the tryouts. Her stand-up row with Savannah was hilarious, but I’m glad the two characters weren’t written to be enemies. That would have been far too obvious. Better that they’re friends, even though they’re vastly different creatures.
What did you think of the first episode of Hellcats? Has it got promise?
- Marti: “I don’t trust any culture that builds pyramids. Human or otherwise.”
- Marti’s mother has an easy going approach to red letters: “They send those out to scare you into paying.”
- Marti gets overwrought with her advisor: “Do you know what gets me through? Hope. The hope that I can graduate, move far far away and live like a normal person. You kill my hope and you kill me.”
- Alice: “Democracy’s a bitch.” Marti: “Apparently so are you.”
- Marti: “That’s a joke.” Savannah: “We should come up for a signal for that to avoid confusion.”
- Dan: “These new people. don’t drift. Alright?”