Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Posted by Sasha at 1:09 PM ET

Adrienne Gruben
Los Angeles Pop Culture Examiner
November 29, 2008

Everything's bigger in Texas

What squad in pro-football best exemplifies dreams hatched and broken, precision moves and unbending coaches? Hint: They live in Dallas, look hot in blue and white, and have rear ends you could bounce a ZZ Top commemorative coin off of.

Correct answer: The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Need more proof? Take a look at Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team, an eight part series now playing on Country Music Television's website after last week's finale. (No spoilers here, or ever, come to think of it.)

At first glance, the show honors standard reality criteria: wrenching try-outs, scrutiny and rigorous semi-finals. But after DCC director, Kelli Finglass and choreographer, Judy Trammell weed out ladies who can't dance or jump into the splits, things get a little more personal.

Finglass communicates with Trammell via subtle glances about everything from arranging boobs in unforgiving tops, to plumping flat rear ends and how to make the eyes of a "boring looking" girl, "pop." But Finglass and Trammell, both former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, are utterly lovable.

Brunette beauty, Finglass and blonde, perky Trammell represent a dying breed of woman found only in Texas and even there, sparingly. Manners: impeccable. Accents: slight. Foundation: Tough. They may get giggly after a few beers, but they do not holler from the tops of mechanical bulls, and their pairs of panty hose are rolled neatly in clear plastic boxes. Makeup and hair: feminine, but current. Dress: hip, but coordinated-straight out of a Nordstrom's-Dallas charity fashion show. (Imagine a plastic bangle rounding out a Summer dress look.)

They're up on current events-not just headlines. They're the ones to call in a crisis because they'd never tell-except for an occasional, "I'm a little concerned about her." But they'd also be frank about whether you need to tan, or if your belly button is too far apart from your pubic bone (turns out, it's easy to address with a special zipper).

Sometimes their scrutiny is warranted. After tactfully asking a girl to tone down her "stripper" aesthetic, some very t#!ty bar-esque shots of her surface on myspace. Facebook featured another hopeful wearing police caution tape-and nothing else. Finglass noted to Trammell, "Maybe they can try out next year."

DCC: Making the Team is not about each hopeful's specific outcome (there were too many "Jordans" too keep track of), but about Finglass and Trammell working to find the magic that is the perfect squad. Even if you wanted to spoil the ending by clicking on the current squad photo, you'll only come up with, "I think that's the redhead from try-outs."

For better or worse, Finglass and Trammell's perfect squad can only happen if the dancers flatter every last seam of the uniform, jump into the splits, pick up choreography quickly (moves that my judgy dancer cousins deem "basic" ), but most of all, play that storied part documented in made for TV movies and Love Boat episodes. Ultimately, the most important job Finglass and Trammell have is to transmit everything that they are to the girls, appropriate undergarments and all.

There was a day when my contemporaries and I would have questioned the DCC's beauty standards. But since they began in 1972, the culture's water supply has become so saturated with bra cutlets and deoderant for your hoo ha, these ladies actually seem old fashioned.

However, despite my cynicism about shots of girls pulling out their wedgies, I did get caught up in Finglass and Trammell pushing the ladies to be better. I did care who made it. I did cry when a girl had to walk outside and tell her parents, husband and baby that she'd been cut from the team that is "Often imitated, but never duplicated."

Whether you've lived it, secretly dreamed of it or just want to judge it, this show is mesmerizing. Who cares if our motivations differ? Everyone has a dream-even if your belly button is too far from your pubic bone.

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