The network's longest running show will return starting on Sept. 17. CMT announced that production on the new season is currently underway with 52 hopefuls entering training camp to compete for a spot on the fabled NFL cheerleading squad, according to a statement released by the network.
The new season follows last year's "bubble" season in which participants auditioned and trained in a virtual environment because of the coronavirus pandemic. The term comes from a Cameo video that Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders director Kelli Finglass sent to a fan that first explained how the new season and tryouts would work during the pandemic shutdown.
The shutdown affected the cheerleaders' performances at home games. The NFL announced that no "game-day entertainment personnel" would be allowed on the field during last season's home games, including the cheerleaders and team mascots.
The show's last season also saw "the most veteran cuts in show history," according to the network's statement.
Viewers might be interested to see how the squad and audition process changed after the pandemic and find out how the show addresses issues like body shaming. Meagan Pravden, a competitor from the 2014 season, told the Observer's Paige Skinner that her time on the show affected her body image issues. Pravden says she didn't make the final cut because, Finglass told her, "I don't think our uniform fits your body."
"You can't change your body and you don't need to lose weight. You're just a stockier build for this uniform." – Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders director Kelli Finglass to competitor Meagan Pravden
"You can't change your body and you don't need to lose weight," Finglass said to Pravden on the CMT show. "You're just a stockier build for this uniform."
Pravden posted a series of Instagram posts addressing how the training and audition process that started long before her appearance on the reality series took a mental toll on her, and how she "recently started on my own journey of healing after years of unhealthy body image stemming from my background in cheer and dance," as Pravden wrote in an Instagram post.
The CMT show made a noticeable change last season, a few months after Pravden's story hit the web. During the last uniform episode, Finglass' feedback focused less on the participants' bodies and instead focused on how the uniform had to fit "properly" to qualify for auditions.