When I sat down to watch the first two episodes of Cheer Up! (aka Sassy Go Go) this weekend, I didn’t really have much of an idea of what I was getting into. I knew Jung Eun Ji, Lee Won Geun and Cha Hak Yeon (aka VIXX’s N) had been cast as leads, which was more than enough enticement for me to give this drama a go, and I knew it had something to do with high school and cheer-leading. In all honesty, I was kinda expecting something more along the lines of Bring it On than anything else so you can imagine my surprise when I walked away from these first two episodes with my heart aching. Obviously these first two episodes moved me which is why I now sit here, ready to dig into this rather surprising drama.
So things start out normal enough, as we’re introduced to the two warring clubs of Sevit High School and the students who bring them to life. On the one hand we have Baek Ho, the school’s one and only “cheerleading” club made up of the elite of the elite. Implementing their own standards for admission, only the top 5% of the school are allowed to join this club which has absolutely nothing to do with cheerleading and everything to do with maintaining their elite status. This group, led by the school’s top student, Kim Yeol (Lee Won Geun), seems to have everything going for them as they’re all the children of rich, powerful and influential people.
On the other hand we have Real King, a hip-hop street dance club made up of the school’s worst ranked students. Made outcasts by their peers, the members of Real King see the club as a much-needed safe haven, a place to breathe as they attempt to deal with the pressures that come from ranking last in a school that prizes top grades and family status above all else. Lead by sassy Kang Yeon Doo (Jung Eun Ji), the members of Real King have a knack for brushing off the jeers of their peers until one day things go a little too far.
In a classic set-up, the leaders of both clubs are caught up in a scandal that leads to the disbandment of Real King and the disgrace of Yeon Doo while Kim Yeol and Baek Ho suffer nothing at all. While it took all of 2 seconds to figure out who the mysterious mastermind behind this scandalous setup was, knowing the culprit was Yeon Doo’s two-faced snot of a roommate, Kwon Soo A (Chae Soo Bin) didn’t make things any easier to deal with. In fact, it only made watching the drama unfold between them even more painful because Yeon Doo genuinely believed her roommate was her friend. (Something not a lot of people at this school are naive enough to believe, as they all come from wealthy families who, apparently, are used to being stabbed in the back by their closest acquaintances.)
I think it’s this deep-set desire to trust people and believe in them that makes me like Yeon Doo so much. Well, that’s part of the reason anyway. I’m also a huge fan of the way she speaks her mind and is willing to stand up for what she believes is right, even if it lands her in trouble on a daily basis. Watching Yeon Doo stand up to not only her peers but the school’s teachers and administration as well is inspiring as well as heartbreaking because it highlights the corruption of the school’s leaders so well. Bowing and scraping to the affluent parents of the school’s students, the school’s administration does nothing to set a moral example to their students. Instead they constantly reinforce what the majority of these students already know; that being that money and power and get you anything you want.
As unfortunate (and quite frankly, disgusting) as the moral standards of the school administration is, it’s the lives of the students and the tremendous amount of pressure that is forced upon them, that gets to me the most. Watching these kinds try to live up to the most unrealistic academic standards is hard but watching them suffer at the hands of those who should be loving and protecting them is infinitely worse. Naturally Ha Joon comes to mind as this poor boy is beaten by his father when he fails to make acceptable grades and is under so much pressure he sees suicide as his only escape. The fact Ha Joon’s failed suicide attempt isn’t the first only makes matters worse and it seems no one has ever bothered to understand why Ha Joon feels he’d be better off dead nor has anyone ever considered getting him the help he so obviously needs. Oh what I wouldn’t give to be able to save Ha Joon from the misery of his life! Instead I’m forced to sit here and watch him suffer as my heart breaks into a million pieces.
What makes things even worse is knowing Ha Joon isn’t the only kid suffering in this story. They all are, in one way or another, though I have to admit, Ha Dong Jae has captured my attention (and no, it’s not just because he’s N). There’s something about Dong Jae that makes my heart go out to him. I like the way he’s keenly observant and brutally honest, I love the way he stands up for Yeon Doo and I adore his fierce loyalty to her. The fact that Dong Jae is also severely wounded and suffers from some sort of disability only makes me love him more; not because I pity him but because I want to see him overcome whatever it is that’s currently tormenting him. Of course I’m also loving Dong Jae because he’s the adorable second and I know I’m going to fall hard for him because I always fall for seconds when I know they stand no chance of ever getting out of the friend zone.
In all honesty, I like pretty much all of the kids in this story, both the elite and the outcasts, because they all have surprisingly deep stories to tell and only 2 episodes in, I’m already heavily invested in them. However there is one character I refuse to like and that is Soo A. She is horrid and though I know I can’t hold her entirely responsible for her horrid-ness because she is, after all, the product of her mother, I refuse to feel sorry for her. Maybe I’m being ridiculous in my decided dislike of her but I can’t help it. Any person who has the entire world at their fingertips and chooses to mess with other people’s lives to get what they want, rather than get up and do the work themselves, looses all my respect and gains none of my sympathy. I’ll probably come to regret saying this in the future but for now I’m okay with hating Soo A as much as Yeon Doo does.
There’s really so much more I could talk about in these first two episodes but I feel like I’ve already made you read a flipping novel so I’ll stop here. Of course you could pick up where I left off by leaving comments below! (That’s a not-so-subtle hint to tell me what you thought of these first two episodes, just so you know.)