Hellcats, “I Say A Little Prayer”

I can say with absolute certainty that I will not be writing about Hellcats every week or even somewhat regularly, but with this week still being a little light on new episodes, I figured what the heck. And it’s always good to check in and see how a series is looking after the pilot that was surely shot months ago (although portions of Hellcats‘ pilot were added in later, so that kind of defeats that purpose). In that sense, Hellcats succeeds because episode two picks up right where the pilot ended with the first qualifying competition. There’s no awkward transitions or character departures and instead we’re dropped right back into the story, which quickly jumps into the drama and plot development. I found it pretty funny that a number of the tropes I mentioned last week which I suspected the series would explore over the first season are already introduced in the second episode! “I Say A Little Prayer” features the rapidly edited montage of Marti trying to balance her pre-law lifestyle and her new Hellcats lifestyle and the budding relationship between Savannah and Dan. That was quick.

The episode also follows another trope in having the kinda-sorta-but-not-really antagonist be humanized. In this case, we learn that Savannah left her Christian college because she didn’t fit in, but she didn’t just leave the school: she left her sister, who’s the resident B.A. on their cheer excellent cheer squad. And of course, Savannah’s mother also went to the school, there’s more or less bad blood between all of them, etc. You get the picture. So when the sister randomly falls and injures her neck during her school’s routine, all of that blows up into a wild mess of clichéd family drama.

Marti also has problems with her mother, but they more or less result in the same beat we saw in the pilot: her mom drinks and makes a fool of herself. The end.

In the end, Marti lets her mom stick around and the Hellcats dominate their version of Sectionals, with a mention of Nationals already thrown out. It’s interesting that unlike Glee, the series doesn’t seem interested in totally milking the false drama of whether or not the team will be axed at any moment and instead is going to focus on the personal drama between the characters. In that sense, I have to give Hellcats some credit. Just a little. However, the expedited competition story and the introduction of some of the classic story beats already suggests that the series is going to be something like Vampire Diaries, or at least attempt to be, by speeding up the overall narrative. I can’t imagine it will pay-off just based on the subject matter alone (there are only so many cheerleading-related stories you can tell, especially compared to vampire stories), and it will probably just end up like season three of The O.C.

But again, I didn’t hate this episode. Ashley Tisdale and Matt Bar are particularly efficient in their roles and have good chemistry, so their scenes pop the most. If you like this kind of thing, I imagine your completely satisfied with how Hellcats is developing.

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