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Dare Me is Netflix's brand new cheerleader thriller and you need it in your life right now.

Dare Me is a drama that mixes the complicated world of teenage friendships with a heavy dose of psychological thrills and a touch of scandalous sleaze, making it the perfect TV snack to binge on.

The new Netflix show, which is based on the book of the same name by bestselling author Megan Abbott, who also serves as co-showrunner here, follows Beth (Marlo Kelly), the rebellious captain of the Sutton Grove High School cheerleading squad, a small stagnant town somewhere in Ohio.

Beth spends her nights binge drinking, mostly to avoid her drug addict mother and her absentee father who had an affair with a woman across the road and moved out to be with her. They now share a daughter, Tacy (Alison Thornton), who has also joined the squad, much to her older half-sister Grace’s destain, who refers to her only as “the fetus”.

Beth spends most of her time with fellow cheerleader and best friend Addy (Herizen Guardiola), whose nights are also free for debaucherous activities due to the fact that her single mother works as a police officer.

But the two girls’ overly obsessive friendship begins to crack when they arrive at school for their senior year and meet their new cheerleading coach, Colette French (Willa Fitzgerald), an icy young woman who initially puts the entire squad off-side by brutally pointing out their flaws in the middle of practice.

“We don’t do this,” she says in one moment, pointing to one squad member’s not-completely-flat stomach, before criticising the team’s overall skills and fitness and then removing Beth as captain and ‘top girl’, replacing her with her half-sister Tacy, much to Beth’s fury.

Friendships begin to crack with the arrival of new cheerleading coach, Colette French. Source: NBCUniversal.

But slowly, the rest of the team becomes fascinated by the secretive young woman who arrived in town with her husband Matt (Rob Heaps) and their baby daughter.

Addy, in particular, is drawn to her and starts pulling away from Beth so that she can spend time at her coach's home and becomes increasingly and inappropriately entwined in her personal life.

The trouble kicks off when Addy and Grace, who are drinking in the woods after performing at a football game, stumble across Colette having sex in the front seat of a car with Will Mosley (Zach Roerig), a local recruiter for the U.S. Marine Corps who has been having an affair with Colette behind her husband's back.

Grace is quick to grab her phone and snag a video of her shocked coach but Addy attempts to cover Colette's tracks, going so far as to steal Grace's phone and even accompany Colette and Will on some of their secret sex meetings to help cover their tracks. It's a hotpot of secrecy and lies that goes on to have disastrous consequences for all involved.

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Along with having an air of guilty-pleasure trashiness to it, Dare Me is not just another sexed-up teen drama and instead provides a smart deconstruction of this particular pop-culture genre.

The sport of cheerleading, while not so prominent in Australian TV shows and movies, has been a driving force in the wealth of American stories we all consume.

In 2002, American teen cheerleading comedy Bring It On highlighted the activity as a sport, not just a supporting act while as recently as January 2020 the Netflix docuseries Cheer captured a more wholesome and hardworking side to the sport.

Most often in pop culture, however, 'the cheerleader' has been used in a stereotypical fashion to signify a popular mean girl, who often gets thwarted by a non-cheerleader heroine.

Listen to Laura Brodnik talk about new Netflix show Dare Me on The Spill, Mamamia's daily entertainment podcast.

While Dare Me does lean heavily into the toxic culture of this cheerleading squad, with vicious infighting and a hazing ritual involving ice baths that leave one girl unconscious, it also delves into the more brutal truths behind the competitive sport.

The squad's deep bruises and blistered hands are always on full display, their training sessions long and brutal and a particularly nasty fall knocks one girl's teeth completely out of her mouth, soaking both herself and Colette in blood. All while Addy scurries around on the floor gathering up the missing teeth and transporting them to the hospital in a glass of milk, all in the hope that they can be reattached.

Even without the murderous, revenge-style plotlines that weave in and out of Dare Me, cheerleading comes across as a brutal and dangerous sport all on its own.

Dare Me is dark, twisted and highly addictive, with not a lot of cheer insight.

All ten episodes of Dare Me are available to watch now on Netflix, it is rated M. 


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