Cheerleading Drama 'Dare Me' Ordered to Series at USA

Willa Fitzgerald - Getty - H 2019
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USA Network continues to restock its slate of scripted originals.

With both Mr. Robot and Suits ending this year, the NBCUniversal-owned cable network has handed out a series order to the cheerleading drama Dare Me. The news comes days after USA picked up Briarpatch, a drama series starring Rosario Dawson and produced by Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail. Meanwhile, the fourth and final pilot from the cabler's April crop — Denis Leary starrer Erase — has been passed over.

Dare Me, based on the Megan Abbott novel, explores the cutthroat world of competitive high school cheerleading. It follows the fraught relationship between two best friends (Herizen Guardiola and Marlo Kelly) after a new coach (Willa Fitzgerald) arrives to bring their team to prominence. While the girls’ friendship is put to the test, their young lives are changed forever when a shocking crime rocks their quiet suburban world. The project is considered a coming-of-age/small-town drama/murder mystery mix.

Abbott serves as a writer and executive producer alongside Gina Fattore (Dawson's Creek, Gilmore Girls). The series is exec produced by Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) and former HBO head of originals Michael Lombardo's Film 44 banner. Sarah Condon and Karen Rosenfelt also exec produce. Netflix has boarded the series as a co-producer alongside Universal Cable Productions. The streamer will have first-run rights to the series outside of the U.S.

Dare Me becomes the latest series to secure co-financing from Netflix. Many networks, including USA corporate sibling Syfy, have been looking to the deep-pocketed streamer to help offset costs with producing pricey dramas.

"Megan Abbott’s voice brings a fresh perspective to USA Network, with a gripping, female-focused story that combines the ultra-competitive world of high school cheerleading with the secrets of a seemingly-perfect small American town,” USA and Syfy president Chris McCumber said Monday in a statement. 

Dare Me is the third drama from USA's April pilot crop to secure a series order. It joins the Bourne prequel Treadstone and Briarpatch. Those arrive at a turning point for USA Network, which this year will say farewell to the critical darling Mr. Robot and SuitsThe latter was the last of the cabler's former "Blue Skies"-branded programming of upbeat procedurals. With the breakout success of Mr. Robot, USA shifted to darker and edgier fare. With both shows ending this year, the cable network will need to launch new hits to join returning series Queen of the South and The Purge. USA will next introduce the Suits spinoff Pearson. Still to be determined is the fate of fellow anthology The Sinner, though it is expected to return.  

For leading lady Fitzgerald, the role brings the actress back to USA Network after a role on Royal Pains. Her credits include MTV's Scream series and Gotham

A premiere date and episode count for Dare Me have yet to be determined.