“All American” is basically a sports drama TV show, and it talks about the life of the retired football player Spencer Paysinger. Spencer, played by Daniel Ezra, is the star wide receiver at South Crenshaw High, a neighborhood in South LA, known for its gang activity. From the first minute of the show, we can tell Spencer is the best there is when it comes to offense. Billy Baker, played by Taye Diggs, the football coach from Beverly Hills High School, asks Spencer to come play for him in Beverly Hills. And that’s how it all begins. The show goes through Spencer’s journey of balancing the fancy and rich life of a Beverly Hill’s student with his South Side home life. The series shows life inside and outside the field, giving this show two of my favorite things: sports and drama. It has the perfect mix of football action shots and the perfect number of plot twists to keep you at the edge of your seat at all times.
While the main topic of “All American” is technically football (and that’s the main reason I even watched this in the first place), one thing I also loved about it is how it tackles many real issues that many people face every day. It deals with topics such as drug abuse, depression, racism, and gang violence. *Spoilers Ahead*
For example, in season one, Spencer and Jordan — the Quarterback of Beverly Hills High — get pulled over by the police. You can see that Spencer is extremely uneasy and immediately puts his hands on the dashboard to show the cop he is unarmed. On the other hand, Jordan, who’s light-skinned and used to living in his Beverly Hills bubble, gives the cop attitude and is immediately dragged out of the car and arrested. Once he gets home, his dad gives him “the talk”. Not the “birds and bees talk,” but the “what to do if you want to keep your life once you get pulled over by a white cop” talk. Another example of racial profiling occurs in season two, when Spencer, his brother, and some friends go to an ice cream shop and are immediately racially profiled. The woman from the shop calls the cops on them and the cops almost end up shooting Spencer’s brother. Another example that really opened my eyes was when they showed the underlying racism that exists in the healthcare system. In season two, Spencer needs medical attention and fast. All the doctors are white except for one black lady. Everyone is trying to push it back, saying he doesn’t really need a procedure right away even though he’s in critical condition. The lady has to keep pushing until eventually, they listen to her and go through with it. If they didn’t do it at the time, he probably would’ve suffered more. One example of mental health issues and drug abuse is Jordan’s sister, Olivia, a recovering addict. In season one, they show her story in flashbacks to the times she was high/drunk and the tipping point in her life, when she overdosed and decided to get clean. Throughout the show, there are a few scenes showing how she still struggles with her sobriety and the steps she takes to keep from falling off the edge. Lastly, another example is Layla, Olivia’s best friend, and Spencer’s love interest. She’s your typical popular high school girl — all the girls wanna be her and all the guys want to be with her. All-in-all, she’s perfect. However one day, she snaps. She gets tired of being the “perfect girl” and it’s all downhill from there. In season two, it is revealed that her mother had depression, and it turns out, so does she. They show the stages of how, at first, she didn’t want to be helped and how she was in denial through going to “group therapy” and getting better.
I think it’s really cool how this series shows these types of issues. Just because it doesn’t happen to you, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. We’re in 2020, and you’d think we would’ve progressed more but if you really take a look around you, it’s still happening. We all saw what happened when COVID-19 started to spread. Which restaurants suffered the most? Who was racially profiled because of how they looked? Exactly. To this day, we still hear stories on the news of white cops killing unarmed black men. Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin are just the most popular and heard off cases, but it happens more often than we’d like. So please, educate yourselves. Open up your eyes. Step out of your bubble every once in a while, and you’ll see that the topics in All American are not fiction.
Overall, I would rate this show 5/5 stars (or, more if I could honestly). As I said, it has the perfect mix of on the field drama as well as off the field drama. Whether you are a fellow sports fan that’s going through sports withdrawal and are in need of some sports action or a lover of good dramatic and intense shows, this is the one for you. I hope everyone enjoys this show as much as I did!