Health and Fitness

15 Best Shows Like Cheer

shows movies like cheer

Netlfix/NBC/ESPN

Netflix’s Cheer is one of the most surprising hits for the streaming giant in the last few years. Not because its not well done—it’s extremely well made—but because it might seem a bit surprising for a show about such an esoteric subject to reach as wide an audience as it has. But like the world of competitive chess before it (with The Queen’s Gambit), it’s yet another example that audiences don’t particularly care what the sport is or if they even understand it; it’s about the stakes, the emotions, and the characters involved. And that’s where Cheer has really shined.

And while it may feel like you’ve binged through the latest season of Cheer faster than Trinity Valley recovered from that first pyramid fall, we’re here to let you know that there’s more ways to get that same fix. Whether it’s focused on a nationally-relevant sports championship or something a bit more obscure, there are always ways to find emotion, competition, and complexity in competitive sports moments.

So, while you may be all out of Cheer for now—and don’t worry, all the show’s recent success and popularity means that a Season 3 is all but a certainty—there are still plenty of places across the streaming-verse where you can get your competitive fix. Without further ado, here are some of those standout picks.

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1

30 for 30

ESPN’s series of compelling sports documentaries, all made under the banner of 30 for 30, has been going strong for more than a decade now. No matter what your sports interest is—whether it’s infamous Chicago Cubs fan Steve Bartman, the day O.J. Simpson fled in his white Ford Bronco, the all-too-short life of Boston Celtics draft pick Len Bias, or just about anything in bteween—there’s usually an ESPN 30 for 30 that will cover it. It’s the industry baseline for sports documentaries for a reason; each of these are incredibly well done.

Stream every 30 for 30 on ESPN+

2

Last Chance U

The drama is built into this one—Last Chance U follows a different junior college every other season, featuring players grasping to their last hope of getting picked up by a major conference school. And each season comes with not only the sorts of highs and lows that come with any football season, but the looming pressure of a future beyond as well.

Stream It Here

3

Last Chance U: Basketball

After five years documenting football, Last Chance U switched gears to cover basketball. The first season in this new series traveled an East Los Angeles school and a team filled with potential.

Stream It Here

4

Hard Knocks

The NFL’s greatest and most popular documentary is Hard Knocks, the HBO series that follows the training camp of a different team every season (and, for the first time, the 2021 season followed a team in-season as well). Obviously, it’s entertaining to hear from the star players and guys you’ve heard of, but it’s almost more exciting to watch for the bubble guys who are just hoping to make their dreams come true and stick on the roster.

Stream It Here

5

Friday Night Lights

The first scripted show on the list is Friday Night Lights, which has to be in the conversation for best sports drama series of all time. If you haven’t seen it yet, Friday Night Lights is based on a book (which also inspired a movie)about a town in Texas where high school football is everything. And we mean everything. The show follows coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) and his wife, Tami Taylor (Connie Britton) as they navigate that culture while helping to shape the lives of the numerous players, students, and people in that small town. It’s a show about football, yes, but even more it’s just a show about people.

Stream it Here

6

Pitch

Pitch only lasted one season, but damn was it entertaining. This series follows a hyper-realistic version of the MLB, specifically honing in on the San Diego Padres, who are about to have Ginny Baker, the first woman to ever play in the MLB, on their roster. Another great show for fans of sports, and just great characters.

Stream It Here

7

Untold

Untold is basically Netflix’s version of ESPN’s 30 for 30. One of the standouts of the early batch of Untold focuses on the Malice at the Palace, the infamous 2004 fight between the Detroit Pistons, the Indiana Pacers, and a number of fans in the stands.

Stream It Here

8

The Last Dance

It gets lost in the shadow of The Tiger King, but when The Last Dance first started airing in April 2020, it really felt like everyone was watching. This brilliantly-made documentary series had exclusive interviews and never-before-seen footage of the final season that the legendary Chicago Bulls ’90s gang—including Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Coach Phil Jackson—were all together in one place. Not only a brilliant docuseries (with an incredible soundtrack)but a real cultural moment too. If you didn’t watch back when it aired, you’re about to understand a whole lot more memes on the internet.

Stream It Here

9

Sunderland ‘Til I Die

For our fans of football, also known in the United States as “soccer,” we can jump across the pond to Sunderland ‘Til I Die, an expertly-made docuseries that follows the English club Sunderland in the year following relegation as they try to fight and win their way back to the biggest stage. The tension is real and the emotions are high.

Stream It Here

10

Cheer Squad

If you’re simply looking for more cheer content, look no further than Cheer Squad, a Freeform series that finds a Canadian cheer squad defending their title.

Stream It Here

11

QB1: Beyond the Lights

There are a number of seasons of QB1 out there, and each follows a different highly-ranked high school football quarterback in their final season before moving on to a major college scholarship. Season 3 is streaming on Netflix.

Stream It Here

12

Fightworld

You may know Frank Grillo best for his role as Brock Rumlow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but in real life the thing he cares most about might just be fighting. In this series, the actor travels the world looking to learn about and understand different fighting cultures, styles, and motivations around the world.

Stream It Here

13

Kingdom

Grillo’s love for fighting spilled over into TV, where he led the surprisingly star-studded MMA drama Kingdom. The show also features Friday Night Lights’ Matt Lauria, along with Nick Jonas and Paul Walter Hauser, among others.

Stream It Here

14

We Are The Champions

If what you like about some of the movies and shows on this list is the esoteric, weird, what in the world nature of some of some of the competitions, then We Are The Champions is the show you’ve been dreaming of. Narrated by Rainn Wilson, each episode of We Are The Champions dials in on a competition that you’d think is too bizarre to be true—but 100% is. The first episode? A massive race/chase down a steep hill behind a wheel of cheese. Another? Chili eating contest.

Stream It Here

15

Ted Lasso

You’ve probably heard of Ted Lasso at this point; it’s one of the biggest shows on TV, stars one of the most likable people around in Jason Sudeikis, and has already won a ton of Emmys. But in case you haven’t: Ted Lasso is the story of a man (Ted Lasso, yes, you got it) who was a successful American football coach, who for whatever reason ends up in England, coaching a different form of football. It seems wacky, but it winds up as one of the most positive, feel-good, and real shows you’ll see. Get caught up in time for Season 3.

Stream It Here

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