Bryan, my fellow CW11 intern, may have beat me to it with his take on the first episode of All American but I’ve still got plenty to say! (Click here to read his post.) CW will be welcoming this stellar new show to its roster in the fall and I simply cannot wait.
With a perfect blend of complex family dynamics, an underdog fighting adversity, and all the glorious teenage drama that will inevitably ensue at a high school (especially one in Beverly Hills), All American is destined to be your new TV obsession.
The series centers on Spencer James, an African-American straight-A student and star football player at South Crenshaw High. When Coach Billy Baker from the affluent Beverly High offers Spencer the opportunity of a lifetime, Spencer struggles to leave behind his roots in Crenshaw and play at Beverly. Eventually, after a push from his mom and a heart-to-heart with his best friend, Coop, Spencer realizes that Coach Baker actually could get him closer to his NFL dreams and out of his crime-ridden neighborhood.
At his new school, Spencer must tackle hallways strewn with prejudice and a field full of jealously. For the most part, he is not greeted kindly by his classmates, especially when he’s forced to move in with Coach Baker in order to defend his transfer permit. Jordan, the team’s starting quarterback who also happens to be the coach’s son, is asked by his dad to take Spencer under his wing. However, sharing the spotlight with the new kid is not something Jordan is interested in. Jordan teams up with Asher, a fellow football player, who suspects his girlfriend, Leila, is crushing on Spencer. The two jocks conspire to get Spencer off the team and out of Beverly before he disrupts the status quo any further.
We also see Spencer develop a friendship with Jordan’s sister, Olivia. Perhaps due to her troubled past, she veers away from the party scene and offers advice to Spencer. She seems to be the only person, besides her dad, looking out for Spencer in their shark tank of a school. The road ahead of this rising football star isn’t looking easy and it’s clear he’ll be faced with many obstacles on his journey to success. I just hope these Beverly Hills teens aren’t too ruthless.
My overall take? I’d say I’m sold on All American. This is a classic “root-for-the-underdog” story that also carries some real messages of social commentary. However, as much as I love the pilot episode, there were times when the plot felt predictable and the characters seemed to be built on stereotypes. That being said, these stereotypes don’t appear to be carelessly assigned. The series is actually inspired by the real life story of NFL player Spencer Paysinger and touches on more serious topics of economic inequality and racial divide in America.
As far as predictability goes, we are still just setting the scene. I do expect there to be many surprising turns down the road. And, for the record, we do get a taste of a major plot twist at the end of Episode 1. So who knows what will happen next? I’ve got a feeling there is a lot more going on behind the scenes of Beverly High School than we realize.
Watch All American Wednesdays at 9 this fall.
Pilot airs October 10th on the CW.