All American (Season 1), 2018
Signed up the 28/03/2017
All American follows the journey of rising high school football star Spencer James (played by impressive break-out star, Daniel Ezra). The show is based on the true-life events of ex-NFL player Spencer Playsinger- a talented footballer from the hood, Crenshaw, who gets his big break when he is recruited by a Beverly Hills coach, to come play for him at the high school he works at.
Spencer, not without a struggle first, accepts the offer and is later confronted with the decision to live in Beverly Hills with his surrogate family- his coach's rich family. By the persuasion of his mother and bestfriend, Spencer dreadly leaves his family to go persue his big dream.
The show tackles issues of racism and Blackness from there on, as it cuts back and forth contrasting the experiences between Spencer's visits to his family and friends back in Crenchaw on weekends, and him trying to fit in into an environment that's totally alien to him during the week.
A show like this could easily be worn down by the heavy subject matter at hand. Race is a tough subject to tackle in any media, especially fictional television, but I have to commend the writers for managing to find the perfect balance here.
The show tackles racial matters in a way that doesn't drag the entire atmosphere of the show down to just emotions based around the subject at hand. Instead the writers reach out in an engaging, relevant manner that manages to extend to the young audiences it is targeting, as well as their folks. Whether Black, brown or white, teenager or a senior, this is a show that is able to teach you about the experiences of Black people, and how they view the world, the best way possible.
Bear in mind, this is a show targetting young audiences first and foremost, as it is trying to spread awareness of the issues in current-America, as well as all over the world really. To be able to both get the message across effectively while hitting every dramatic beat possible in a broadcast network melodrama deserves a loud round of applause. The show doesn't feel like a lecture, but an important life journey communicated through a kid we can all relate to.
All American is The O.C., slash 90210, slash every other teen drama you've seen, while at the same bringing something very different to the table. It is deep, it is driven by important lessons for its young audiences, and that's where it differs from its predecessors. If a show can be fun and also impactful in a meaningful way in real-life, then it's a notable achievement.
The impressive predominantly Black cast, the LGBTQ+ storyline, tackling Black people issues within the hood, issues of Black people trying to find themselves outside of their struggles, bringing two different worlds together and finding a safe space to coincide, honing mutually beneficial friendships, finding love; there is a lot of story to follow in this show.
Every aspect of it is so good, and so damn fun. All American reminds me of the era of television where Gossip Girl or Friends, and The Game or Girlfriends used to be our go-to when switching on our screens. Except it brings the two worlds together to show us that sometimes preference is merely a state of mind; you don't know what you really like until you give different things a chance, or perhaps throw them in a blender. Give All American a chance. Take it from me, it'll be worth it.
And, oh my God, the cast is the most impressive ensemble I've seen on television in a pretty long time. They all look so natural around one another, which makes the show that much more personal and hearty. Especially Spencer and his lesbian bestfriend Coop (played by a highly talented Bre-Z). There are some familiar faces on there, like Taye Diggs who brings it as the coach. But overall the show breaks out some real young Black talent in the likes of Ezra, Bre-Z, Michael Evans-Behling, Greta Onieogou, Samantha Logan, Jalyn Hall (cast this kid in everything from here forth, please!) and most impressively Jay Reeves (as Shawn, a young, tough gangster who is deep-down crying out for help).
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