Drama series “All American” premiered on The CW late 2018, and recently released its first season on Netflix. Created by April Blair and inspired by the true story of Spencer Paysinger, the show follows the life of Spencer James. Played by Daniel Ezra, James is a star football player at his high school in Crenshaw, California, and was recruited to continue his athletic career at a school in Beverly Hills. James’ new coach Billy Baker, played by Taye Diggs, welcomed James into his home following his transfer, helping him adjust to the new lifestyle. Regardless of this, James struggled with adapting to the cultural clash between Crenshaw and his new home.
Throughout the series, it becomes obvious that James accepted Coach Baker’s offer to transfer schools in order to provide better opportunities for himself and family. His dream to become a professional athlete was limited by his dangerous neighborhood, so viewers can understand his thought processing when making the decision. In regards to the setting of the story, the show does a great job in steering away from the stereotypes placed on areas like Crenshaw. This is shown through the character of Coop, played by Bre-Z. She plays the role of James’ best friend, and is a confident young lesbian woman determined to keep herself away from crime and trouble.
However, the portrayal of Beverly Hills in the show seems to be the opposite. Throughout the series, all viewers see of James’ new neighborhood is fancy cars, preppy teenagers and mansions. I understand that the area is well-off and not without the riches depicted, but the show could benefit from laying off the stereotypes (just a little bit). The show does not even provide a supporting character from the new school, besides Coach Baker and his family.
The show’s main concept is realistic enough, as it is not uncommon to see student athletes transferring from school to school. However, the storyline was pretty unoriginal. I felt like I’ve seen this exact plot a million times before. Talented teenager from the hood finds his way out through sports, meets a girl and adapts to a new world. Repetitive, right?
Overall, the show was fun to watch. It had it’s up and downs, but still managed to be funny and stick to the plot throughout the whole series. Solid 7/10.