America’s Sweethearts Is a Surprisingly Infuriating Portrait of the Ultimate Pink-Collar Job

The Resonance of “9 to 5” in America’s Sweethearts

The sixth episode of Netflix’s seven-part documentary, America’s Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, is aptly titled “9 to 5.” Set in the fall of 2023, it features Dolly Parton performing her iconic hit at the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving game half-time show, dressed in full cheerleader regalia. However, there’s profound subtext to the title. The theme song of Parton’s cult comedy, which highlights the struggles of three working women against their oppressive boss, resonates deeply with the lives of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (DCC). The lyrics, “Barely gettin’ by, it’s all takin’ and no givin’/ They just use your mind and they never give you credit/ It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it,” encapsulate the experiences of these cheerleaders, making the song a perfect metaphor for their journey.

The Vision of Greg Whiteley

Directed and executive produced by Greg Whiteley, a prolific Netflix sports documentarian, America’s Sweethearts presents a show about women’s work and its dubious rewards. Unlike Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team, a long-running CMT reality show that ended in 2022, this documentary provides a more empathetic and observant look at the lives of the cheerleaders. Whiteley’s direction keeps the cameras focused on the cheerleaders throughout the football season, capturing their personal lives, sacrifices, and the grueling, often thankless labor of love that defines their existence.

Behind the Glamour: The Realities of Being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader

Being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader is more than just performing at games. It involves a rigorous selection process led by DCC director and alum Kelli Finglass, who narrows down hundreds of talented dancers to an elite squad of 36. The documentary sheds light on the immense pressure and high standards these women face. From maintaining peak physical fitness to perfecting complex routines, the cheerleaders dedicate countless hours to their craft. This demanding schedule leaves little room for personal time, illustrating the sacrifices they make to pursue their passion.

The Dual Lives of Cheerleaders

The documentary also delves into the personal lives of the cheerleaders, revealing the balance they must maintain between their professional and private lives. Many of these women juggle other jobs, education, and family responsibilities alongside their cheerleading commitments. The series highlights their resilience and determination, showing how they manage to excel in all aspects of their lives despite the challenges. This dual existence emphasizes the multifaceted nature of the cheerleaders, who are often unfairly stereotyped.

The Pink-Collar Job: A Labor of Love and Sacrifice

Cheerleading, as depicted in America’s Sweethearts, is the ultimate pink-collar job. It is characterized by hard work, dedication, and emotional investment, yet it often goes unrecognized and undervalued. The documentary portrays the cheerleaders’ labor of love, capturing their unwavering commitment and the personal costs involved. From the physical toll of intense training sessions to the emotional strain of constant public scrutiny, the cheerleaders endure numerous hardships for the love of their art.

Cultural Significance and Public Perception

America’s Sweethearts also explores the cultural significance of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. They are iconic figures in American sports, representing a blend of athleticism, beauty, and entertainment. However, this public perception often overshadows the individual stories and struggles of the cheerleaders. The documentary aims to shift this perspective, offering a more nuanced view of their lives and the challenges they face. By focusing on their personal journeys, the series humanizes the cheerleaders, presenting them as dedicated professionals rather than mere performers.

The Impact of “9 to 5” on the Cheerleaders’ Narrative

The choice of “9 to 5” as a thematic element in the series is not just a nod to Dolly Parton’s performance. It underscores the broader narrative of the cheerleaders’ lives, drawing parallels between their experiences and the struggles depicted in the song. The lyrics resonate with the cheerleaders’ reality, highlighting the relentless work, lack of recognition, and the emotional toll of their profession. This thematic connection adds depth to the documentary, enriching the viewers’ understanding of the cheerleaders’ plight.

Conclusion: A Portrait of Strength and Resilience

America’s Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders is more than just a sports documentary. It is a powerful portrait of strength, resilience, and the often overlooked struggles of women in the pink-collar workforce. By providing an in-depth look at the lives of the cheerleaders, the series challenges stereotypes and offers a fresh perspective on their profession. Through its empathetic storytelling and insightful observations, the documentary honors the dedication and sacrifices of these remarkable women.

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