'I had to stop watching the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders doco after the third episode.'

Warning: This article contains spoilers from the first three episode of America's Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

If you have a Netflix account, you will have seen a show called 'America's Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders'. You also would've been convinced to watch it as it's been the number one series in Australia for a while now. 

As you've probably figured out by now, the show follows the lives and progress of the new cheerleading recruits for the American football team, The Dallas Cowboys. 

The most shocking revelation that has taken the world by storm has been the amount the cheerleaders get paid. Spoiler: It's barely nothing. 

The members of the team who don't have financial support from family or friends have to maintain a full-time job in addition to cheerleading. 

We learnt from the first episode that these women are incredible, having to undergo both physically and mentally challenging training and recruitment processes while sustaining full-time work as nurses, orthodontists or accountants. 

Watch: America's Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders trailer. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

You also hear from the cheerleaders acknowledging that despite the poor pay, they feel like getting to be a 'DCC' is worth it.

Here's the thing though: with a quick Google search, you find out that the Dallas Cowboys are the most valuable team in American football with a net worth of $9 billion this year. The majority of the players and people behind the scenes are millionaires.  

I agree that the pay disparity was infuriating but there was something else that made me more upset about this show. 

Upset to the point where I couldn't see a reason why I should watch beyond the third episode. 

Why? Because the lack of representation and the way the women of colour on the show were portrayed made me embarrassed and hurt on their behalf. 

Listen to The Quicky's episode on the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Post continues below. 

We were first given a glimpse into the audition and recruitment process. After being chosen out of a sea of headshots, dance routines and resumes, a selection of women were invited to showcase a solo dance performance in front of a panel of judges.

In my opinion, Anisha was the biggest standout from the solo auditions. Like myself, She is of Indian descent and did a contemporary Bollywood dance. It was the only dance that was completely different to everyone else's and she was met with ongoing claps and "whoops" from the audience. 


I was so excited to hear what the judges thought of her routine and from their mics, you could hear them say things like "I'm loving it." 

I was met with swift disappointment however with DCC's director Kelli Finglass' straight-faced comment saying: "I mean... she's entertaining, that's for sure." 

Her tone made me believe that would be the last we would see of Anisha. 

Anisha at her solo audition. Image source: Netflix.


Something lit up inside me when I found out that Anisha had made it through the audition process to boot camp. But here is where things start to feel a bit off for me.

Anisha works as a full-time orthodontist and you can see clips of her practising her routine between patients. She's one of the rookies — meaning she's a first-timer at the DCC which is different to veterans who have been Cheerleaders on this team in previous years. 

The first few episodes mainly focus on the rookies as they could be eliminated at any stage of the audition and boot camp process.

In the initial stages of the boot camp, two women were let go. Both of whom were women of colour: Kaylin and Darian were pulled out of practice to be told that they wouldn't be making it. 

Darian left swiftly, while Kaylin got a few hugs and goodbyes from other teammates before she was shown leaving with Anisha. 

As the two of them were walking to their car, Kaylin said "Anisha, you're so talented. You can do this... I believe in you and I'm not just saying that." 

Anisha replied, "We've got to do it for the brown girls." 

That interaction made my heart sink. If you know your creative metaphors, all I could think about was how much they were foreshadowing Anisha's (lack of) future as a DCC. 


And it was true. 

After an injury during boot camp, Anisha was also let go for not being able to nail the high kicks. Interestingly, the choreographers that the directors and executive team brought in to help train the girls all loved Anisha. 

I will admit to my bias of wanting someone who shares the same heritage as me to be represented in one of the most valuable cheer teams. However, I don't think one person out of a team of thirty-six is a big ask.

It's not like I'm a passionate cheerleading fanatic or anything. I was ignorant of how big of an industry it actually was before I started watching this show. Seeing Anisha was a welcomed surprise. There wasn't a single grain of hope in me that II'd see a woman with Indian heritage compete for a spot in a Dallas cheerleading team. And yet, here I am, with my high hopes being completely destroyed less than halfway through the season.

I wasn't the only person who clocked Anisha's questionable departure. In an interview with the show's director, Greg Whiteley, for Glamourjournalist Sam Reed brought up the moment Anisha was talking about having to do it for the brown girls. 

Whiteley replied by saying: "There was a woman named Dee Brock, who is the originator of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, and it was very important to her that there were Black and Brown people represented in the squad... [she] would say, 'if you’re going to be America’s team, you have to represent America'."


"The Cowboys have always made it a point to try and do that, but you raise a good point. The first two people cut after the finals in training camp are people of colour, and that was not lost on them."

Watching Anisha being let go wasn't actually the nail in the coffin for me. The reason I decided to stop watching is because of what happened after...

Anisha wasn't the only person who was let go during boot camp. Leah and Kelly were two other rookies who didn't make the cut either. 

When the three of them were in the locker room packing up and saying goodbye to the other girls, Leah and Kelly were seen embracing each other saying things like "We both worked so hard" and "It'll be okay."

Anisha? She was seen awkwardly standing in the background, not being comforted by any of the other girls. 

Leah and Kelly embracing each other after being let go while Anisha stands by herself in the background. Image source: Netflix


And that is where I chose to stop watching the show. 

Corporations can have diversity quotas, set ethnicity benchmarks or even just pay women what they deserve. 

However, if the internal culture turns a blind eye towards progression and only some women are met with support and encouragement, then nothing will change. 

If you want more culture opinions by Emily Vernem, you can follow her on Instagram @emilyvernem.

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