In the dead of winter, it’s important to have a television show to look forward to as you go about your miserable day. For me, that show is a reality program on the Country Music Television network called Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team. It has been running continuously for the last 16 years — longer than Keeping Up With the Kardashians and The Big Bang Theory. I’m sure it will outlive us all, and yet I’m the only person I know who watches it. I hope that changes today.
The title of the show pretty much explains the content: It’s about a bunch of gorgeous 22-year-olds training to become Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. The first episode of each season always covers the audition process, which harkens back to early American Idol in that the producers purposely show some hopefuls who are very bad at dancing. Then, DCC director Kelli Finglass and choreographer Judy Trammell pick their top 40 or so women to join “TRAINING CAMP,” which is a multi-week gauntlet in which both rookies and veterans have to learn all the DCC dances, prove they can interface with “THE MEDIA,” and possibly dye their hair a different color in order to make the final squad of 36. For the women, who are different every season but always named Kayli or Savannah, the stakes couldn’t be higher. The viewing experience, however, is relaxing. Here is sample episode description from IMDB:
“Beauty is the name of the game as the training camp candidates get major hair makeovers in preparation for their first solo publicity stills. But not everyone is picture perfect and by the end of the week there will be a heartbreaking elimination.”
Can you imagine a better way to spend 45 minutes? I can’t. And there are almost 150 available episodes! Start now and you will be occupied until at least March.
While it’s easy to slip into a season of DCC: Making the Team and immediately know exactly what’s going on, there are some recurring characters to keep in mind. Kelli and Judy, of course — they make all of the decisions and are frequently spotted in “THE OFFICE” (just a room) going over scorecards. And then there are the guest choreographers, who were previously unknown to me but are welcomed by the DCC community as celebrities on par with Angelina Jolie or Barack Obama. (My favorite is a guy named Travis.) It’s also important to show reverence for Charlotte Jones, the Chief Brand Officer of the Dallas Cowboys and the daughter of team owner Jerry Jones; she shows up occasionally when it’s time for the ladies to get serious about their hopes and dreams. Similarly, former DCC turned Bachelor contestant Melissa Rycroft pops in once or twice a season to encourage the women who are struggling to master “THE DCC STYLE.”
The cheerleaders themselves drift in and out, but of course I have my favorites, including Kat, who is not a great dancer but has a sparkling personality, and Rachel, who never speaks out loud but has the most beautiful alien face I’ve ever seen in my life. Some of the girls have moms who were Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, and that’s fun, although I bet the moms wish they could have been on a reality show when they were kicking it on the field, too. Some of the girls come from places like Massachusetts, and their families don’t really care about what they’re doing but support them anyway. All of them are extremely thin, and at least once a season, someone faints during practice because she “FORGOT TO EAT.” This is always upsetting, but I soldier on with the belief that these women are just doing everything they can to live out their one true purpose on Earth, which is to do perfect jump splits under the lights of AT&T Stadium.
My one quibble with the show is that it’s currently not available for free on any of the streaming platforms. I have bought entire seasons on Amazon Prime, and while I don’t regret spending the money, I wish more people could experience the joy of watching the gals get their “ICONIC UNIFORMS” for the first time (usually in episode 7 or 8). In fact, I’m going to tune in to season 12, episode 8 right now, which features an appearance by “Katy Perry's choreographer, Nick Florez” who “stops by to offer some performance advice to the ladies.” Join me — in heaven.