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Film / The Cheerleader Escort

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Cassie, naively turning her Ingenue head away from the awful truth about Tate Riley cheerleaders

The Cheerleader Escort (also called The Perfect Cheerleader) is a 2019 Lifetime Movie of the Week Teen Drama Thriller, written by Andrea Canning and directed by Alexandre Carrière. It was part of the network's Cheer! Rally! Kill! event, with five original cheerleader-themed thrillers.

Cassie (Alexandra Beaton) is the 18-year-old daughter of small-town dance studio owner Karen (Cynthia Preston), starting her freshman year at Tate Riley University, rooming with her friend Alyssa (Bukola Walfall). A chance meeting with one of Alyssa's other friends, who's on the school cheer squad, results in Cassie getting invited to join the team. One perk of joining the squad is that anonymous donors give huge amounts of money to help the girls out. Cassie catches the eye of Terry (Damon Runyan; no, not him), the handsome and much older president of the school's alumni association. They start a relationship, which proves to be godsend when Cassie's deadbeat dad doesn't pay his promised share of her tuition and Terry steps in to help. Eventually, Cassie realizes the Tate Riley cheerleaders are hiding a shocking secret. Well, a secret In-Universe. Most viewers can figure it out upon seeing the title The Cheerleader Escort. Cassie feels hurt when she learns Terry was just using her, then things turn deadly when another cheerleader, who'd become pregnant via her alumni Meal Ticket, suffers a suspicious drug overdose.

The Cheerleader Escort contains examples of:

  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Well-off middle-aged alumni in particular.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Even by Lifetime standards this gets invoked hard. Cassie's age-appropriate boyfriend Kyle is the only non-creep among the main male cast.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Early on, a young woman named Monica who quit the squad is mentioned. Cassie later gets her help to expose the secret escort service.
  • Country Mouse: Cassie is in awe when she gets to college, with how different it is from her sheltered upbringing.
  • Double Date: Cassie/Terry and Gabby/John meet at Terry's house, but since the latter is already a well-established couple, they sneak off for hot tub fun.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Thanks to an elaborate Batman Gambit at the banquet during climax—Alyssa purposely spills water on Stephanie, who goes to the ladies' room to clean up. Monica is there, and confronts her. Cassie is standing outside picking up their confrontation on her cell phone, having made a call to Kyle. Kyle runs up to the banquet mic and plays the call for everyone to hear, and they learn the truth about the cheerleaders.
  • Evil All Along: Turns out Stephanie, the cheer coach, is a professional madam and has been running a sex trafficking scheme with her cheerleaders for a while.
  • Fanservice: The TRU cheer squad's uniforms are borderline Stripperiffic, being extremely tight with thin fabric, consisting of a midriff-baring top and short-shorts, and they get plenty of routines to show them off.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Gabby decides to keep the baby, which enrages John, who now has to fess up to their relationship to his wife, and has to pay child support
  • High-Class Call Girl: By becoming a TRU cheerleader, Cassie unwittingly becomes one of these too.
  • The Ingenue: Cassie is a sweet, innocent country girl, whose naïveté sometimes veers close to outright idiocy.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Cassie is portrayed as a wholesome small town girl, but clearly has enough sex appeal to attract the discerning Terry. That she has an array of form-fitting street clothes doesn't hurt.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: When she refuses to get an abortion, Gabby is fatally injected with heroin, which, as a former addict, makes it look like she'd fallen off the wagon.
  • May–December Romance: 18-year-old Cassie and 40-something Terry.
  • Meal Ticket: Cassie learns of sudden huge payments to help out her and mother, which are coming from Terry.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • One of the alums paying a cheerleader for sexual favors is named John.
    • The cheer coach is named Stephanie Dodger, and Cassie indeed would've been well-advised to "dodge her".
  • Ms. Exposition: Cassie seeks out Monica, a former cheerleader, who tells her all about the escort ring.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Lifetime never came right out and admitted it, but this movie was obviously inspired by a 2017 scandal at Coastal Carolina University. While the school didn't harbor a fully-organized escort service like Tate Riley, several members of the cheer squad made themselves available for sugar daddy/sugar baby relationships with rich older men, and a couple of them also worked as strippers.
  • Spoiler Title: So, the cheerleaders moonlight as escorts. Who knew? That's the Lifetime re-title, though. It was originally filmed as The Perfect Cheerleader.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Monica left the squad because her sugar daddy became one of these.