The CW's All American is benefitting from the vaunted Netflix bump after dropping its third season on the service in late July. It's been at the front of Netflix's top 10 ranking for the last month for cord cutters or people who just like to binge a show all at once, but now that you've torn through Season 3, you're probably wondering what to watch next. Thankfully the formula that makes All American work is also something other shows follow.
As a series, All American works on multiple levels: It's a teen drama, a sports show, a fish-out-of-water story, a coming-of-age tale, and even a commentary on socio-economics in Los Angeles. The series, which was inspired by former NFL player Spencer Paysinger's life, follows Spencer James (Daniel Ezra), an aspiring football star balancing his ambition with regular teenage drama as he's moved from his own neighborhood of Crenshaw to become the MVP at Beverly Hills High.
If you're a fan of any of those aspects of Spencer's story -- be it the sports or community drama -- there are plenty of shows that carry on similar themes that you might enjoy once you're caught up on All American. We've dug through the vaults to find shows that fans of All American should watch next.
Football may be the entry point for drama in All American, but it certainly isn't where most of the story takes place. The new Netflix reality series Titletown High is almost All American in real life, charting the daily on-field competition between high school players as well as their personal lives with girlfriends and parents, except instead of Spencer's journey from South Central to Beverly Hills, a star player leaves a glitzy California high school for a perennial title contender in Georgia. Unlike Last Chance U below, Titletown High is specifically interested in the kids' messy romantic lives, making this more on par with a CW reality show than an Emmy winner, but that's exactly why it might scratch that All American itch. -Tim Surette [Watch on Netflix]
What Genera+ion and All American have in common is that they're both great examples of rare teen shows that lean away from the "gritty" label while still managing to deal with real issues. Like most of the other shows on this list, it's set in a high school, but is less about the plot than it is about the vibes. There are ongoing storylines, but each episode could stand on its own, as most simply follow the characters just getting through the day as young people existing in today's world. Queerness is a major theme, as are the subtle but vast differences between the millennial experience and the Gen Z experience. Its characters have a certain innocence, and while watching it, you really get the sense that the kids of Genera+ion -- as self-assured as they present -- are still just kids trying to figure things out. -Allison Picurro [Watch on HBO Max]
So, you're telling me that you enjoy All American, a TV drama about high school football, but haven't yet watched Friday Night Lights, THE TV drama about high school football? Rectify that immediately, please. In fact, if you like All American but would like a TV drama with even more football, you should definitely head down to Dillon, Texas, and meet Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler), the Dillon Panthers, and the East Dillon Lions. The beloved show's five seasons each follow one full season of football in a tiny Texas town where the high school sport is the only thing that matters. Of course, like All American, you don't have to love football to love this show. As long as you're down for the lessons people learn from being part of a team, small town drama, high school shenanigans, and one of the best and most authentic depictions of marriage on television, you will love this series. [Watch on Netflix, Hulu, and Peacock]
How about a docuseries based in the football world? Netflix's Last Chance U, which ran for five seasons and expanded with a spinoff, Last Chance U: Basketball, has followed various junior college level football programs across the country as the students -- many of whom were highly touted as players but faced disciplinary problems at more prestigious programs -- attempt to perform both on the field and in the classroom in order to remain eligible. Most of the players have dreams of moving up to a Division 1 football program, and the compelling and highly-bingeable series both celebrates their wins and gives the audience a behind-the-scenes look at some of the obstacles in their way. [Watch on Netflix]
Looking for another series about an athlete who has to continually prove they belong, but maybe in a little more grown-up way? Watch Pitch. The Fox series sadly only ran for one season, but there's lots of drama to dive into as Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury) breaks boundaries by becoming the first female pitcher in the MLB. Like Spencer, Ginny isn't accepted by her teammates at first, albeit for very different reasons, and the series explores not just Ginny trying to perform at her best on a national stage, but also struggling with the pressure that comes with turning into a sports icon overnight, as well as some lingering family drama. But really, you'll stick around for the endearing, chemistry-oozing relationship she forms with curmudgeonly veteran catcher Mike Lawson (Mark-Paul Gosselaar). [Watch on Hulu]
Although it became much soapier in later seasons, One Tree Hill started off mostly focused on half-brothers Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Nathan (James Lafferty) Scott, learning how to play nice on the basketball court while pretty much hating one another. The way that Nathan — the rich brother who lives with his and Lucas's father — treats Lucas — who has a working-class single mother — is very reminiscent of how Spencer is treated by both Jordan (Michael Evans Behling) and even Asher (Cody Christian) when he first comes to town. Like the All American boys, however, the Scott brothers learn to trust and love each other. One Tree Hill becomes less about basketball and leans more into the primetime soap of it all as the show goes on (it aired on the WB and the CW for nine seasons), but if you're a fan of the genre and are cool with things like evil nannies and transplant organs being eaten by dogs (it's better with no context), then One Tree Hill will be a fun, dramatic ride. [Watch on Hulu]
Both All American and Netflix's dramedy On My Block feel like universal teen stories made highly specific by their setting. All American uses real neighborhoods — Beverly Hills and Crenshaw — to tell Spencer's story, and although On My Block's Freeridge is a fictional place, it's clearly a stand-in for a low-income inner city L.A. neighborhood. On My Block follows four friends whose relationships are tested as they begin high school in an area where gang violence surrounds them. It manages to both break your heart and make you laugh in the same episode and is full of characters easy to root for. [Watch on Netflix]
Euphoria is a much darker, grittier look at high school than a lot of shows on this list, and it seems like the teens on the HBO drama come from a different world than those on the CW. However, if you're moved by Olivia's (Samantha Logan) addiction storyline on All American, Euphoria explores that topic even deeper. The series has a large ensemble cast, but Rue (Zendaya in her Emmy Award-winning role) is at the center of it. When we first meet Rue, she's just returned from rehab, and we watch her relapse time and again as she tries to get herself together. It's an unwavering look at teen drug addiction, among many other things. [Watch on HBO Max]
If you're looking for another high school show that doesn't shy away from confronting the socio-economic disparity within the education system or showcasing teens fighting for their rights to a good education, you should give Saved by the Bell a try. Yep, that Saved by the Bell. Okay, well, not that Saved by the Bell, but the 2020 revival of the '80s and '90s sitcom Saved by the Bell. This time around, we follow sophomore Daisy (Haskiri Velazquez) in present day as she and a group of students from a low-income neighborhood are sent to a school in a wealthier school district, Bayside High, after Governor Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) screws up the state's education budget. The show mixes its zany, fast-paced comedy with poignant high school stories well and you don't really need to be a fan of the original to hop into this new take on the series. Although if you are an old school fan, prepare yourself for lots of callbacks to the original SBTB, a reunion of Zack Attack, and some top-notch flirting between Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley Lauren) and AC Slater (Mario Lopez), who are now Bayside's guidance counselor and phys ed teacher/football coach, respectively. [Watch on Peacock]
Oh teenagers, god bless 'em. Netflix's Spanish series Elite kicks off in a way similar to All American: Three teenagers from a working-class neighborhood get sent to an, ahem, elite prep school. They are not wanted there and the hoity-toity rich kids let them know it (obviously, some of them fall in love because this is a drama, baby). Elite doesn't have a lot of sports (there is some light swimming), but it does have a lot of murder. Each season has a central mystery and flips back and forth in time between those trying to solve the mystery and the events leading up to it. So, if you like your teen angst and commentary on classism a little bloody and foreboding, do yourself a favor and watch Elite. [Watch on Netflix]
When Spencer arrives in Beverly Hills from Crenshaw, he doesn't get the warmest of welcomes. He's an outsider from a part of town that the rich kids at Beverly Hills High look down on. No one punches him in the face and yells "welcome to Beverly Hills, bitch" but someone probably thought about it. Now swap Orange County for Beverly Hills and all of that is exactly what happens to Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie), our protagonist and another teen fish-out-of-water, on The O.C. There's no sports elements in the Fox drama, but there are a lot of thematic similarities between it and All American. In The O.C., Ryan is saved from doing jail time thanks to his court-assigned public defender, Sandy Cohen (Peter Gallagher), who eventually invites him to move in with his family. Like Spencer, there's a period of culture shock for Ryan, but what both these shows do well is depict a teen unsure of where he really belongs. Both Spencer and Ryan begin to feel at home in their new environments, but always feel the pull of where they came from. Plus, The OC has Sandy Cohen, one of the best TV dads in history, so there's that. [Watch on HBO Max]