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'Sassy, Go Go' Puts A New Spin On Cheerleading

BY Adrienne Stanley | Oct 14, 2015 10:27 AM EDT

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Cheerleading is a sport and coming-of-age activity that is as American as apple pie or tackle football. KBS' drama, "Sassy, Go Go" continues to provide a uniquely Korean spin on a genre that has been immortalized in western pop culture through iconic movies like "Bring It On" and the Ryan Murphy primetime ode to teen angst, "Glee."

"Sassy, Go Go" ventures into the nuanced territory of "Glee," but while Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron) was a popular yet vindictive character, there are far more layers to salutatorian Kwon Soo Ah (Chae Soo Bin).

The third episode of "Sassy, Go Go" revealed the motives behind Soo Ah's endless quest to become an Ivy League scholar. Soo Ah mourns the death of her best friend, who was would have been the valedictorian of her class if she did not commit suicide. While many parents would have seized this incident as an opportunity as a chance to prevent their child from traveling down the same dark path, Soo Ah is encouraged by her mother to work even harder, because as she warns, "no one remembers second place."

Soo Ah pursues cheerleading for a reason that is almost incomprehensible for an American viewer. While cheerleading is viewed in the U.S. as a vehicle for instantaneous popularity or the way to obtain a sports scholarship, Soo Ah takes on the strenuous activity in order to pad her high school resume.

Rather than enduring the type of endless try-outs that served as the best scenes in "Bring It On," her mother manipulates the administration to create the club, with blind ambition that the hopelessly uncoordinated White Tigers will clinch a championship title through the talented academic underdogs, The Real King.

While the interactions between Soo Ah and Real King leader Kang Yeon Doo (A Pink's Jung Eun Ji) exemplify the worst aspects of female aggression, the budding relationship of Yeon Doo with Kim Yeol (Lee Won Keun) sets "Sassy, Go Go" apart from other teen K-Dramas. They continue to demonstrate genuine affection for one another, particularly when Yeol saves Yeon Doo from shattering glass before he reluctantly enters a dance battle. 

"Sassy, Go Go" continues to deliver a promising take on the cheerleading genre while defying the stereotypes that those who are involved in the activity lack athletic or academic abilities. 

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Adrienne Stanley is a contributing editor at KDramaStars. She is also a contributing music writer at KpopStarz, MTV Iggy and other publications. When she is not listening to "We Like 2 Party," she can be found on Twitter. (@retrogirladdy).

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