“Friday Night Lights” and “One Tree Hill” are high school TV dramas, crossed over with sports that won over the hearts of millions of viewers. And many continue to watch after the series have stopped airing for almost a decade because of characters they fell in love with, memorable scenes that kept them glued to their screens and plot lines that kept pulling them in through each season. Upcoming next on this list is The CW’s “All American”. In only its first season, “All American” is a show that is vital to the culture of television history.
“All American” is created by April Blair and follows Spencer James (Daniel Ezra), a talented high school footballer from Crenshaw that gets recruited by Coach Billy Baker (Taye Diggs) to play in Beverly Hills. “All American” is inspired by the true story of former NFL player Spencer Paysinger.
Paysinger being apart of the show’s filming was critical for not only his story to be accurately depicted, but also for Blair to further connect the lines between his and her own life story, which led to her creating “All American”.
“He came from adversity and I had a very similar story. I had a single mom who was a waitress, we were on food stamps and I had a dream that was bigger than it should’ve been. Spencer’s story really spoke to me and just this idea that we seem nothing alike, but at heart we have a very common story. And in today’s world of division, I thought that was a very important story to tell that whether you’re black, white, rich, poor, gay, straight that we’re all on a cellular level far more similar than we are different,” Blair said at the PaleyFest Fall TV Previews.
Starting Conversations About Social Issues
Through just 16 episodes, the writers room of “All American” have tackled issues such as gun violence, gangs, racial profiling, drug addiction, privilege and negative attitudes towards the LGBTQ community in many Black households. And it’s important to mention that these social issues are being addressed on The CW which is a major network. This discourse on mainstream television is more than necessary especially with today’s social climate.
Where there are shows that feel performative when addressing social issues, the writing in “All American” is phenomenal to the point when an issue arises in an episode viewers can draw parallels with their own personal experiences. Or eyes are opened to what one was once unfamiliar with.
Cliches Are Torn Apart
Television is overaturated with shows that focus on the worn out idea that high school is centered around cliques and that not being a social outcast is characters’ biggest concern. Although drama goes on at Beverly High, it’s minimal compared to All American’s true intentions and message for its show.
It’s also common for shows to involve characters that are gang members and fail to give them a background story, where as “All American” does so with the role of Shawn, played by Jay Reeves, and depicts the true reality of why many fall into that lifestyle. It’s easy for shows to follow the “good guy vs bad guy” narrative, but “All American” has a diverse writers room that takes the time with character development to give viewers an honest representation and dialogue of things that many people in the world face. Not just in Crenshaw.
The stereotype of the common belief that you have no problems when you’re wealthy is also torn down.
Award-worthy Acting Performances
Before being casted as Spencer, Daniel Ezra never played football. Or even knew anything about the sport and is ironically British. But, with all these factors stacked up against him, no one could have portrayed the character of Spencer as powerfully and brilliantly as him. Along with Daniel, the rest of the cast such as Bre-Z, who plays Coop, and Taye Diggs are completely embodied into their characters and are apart of creating a show that’s focused on the power of storytelling.
“All American” is a must-watch and fingers crossed for Season 2! If you haven’t already, binge-watch the first season on Netflix.