[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the series premiere of All American. Read at your own risk!]
The CW's latest teen drama, All American,premiered Wednesday. On top of introducing us to Spencer James (Daniel Ezra), a gifted football player from Crenshaw, California, who catches the eye of an ambitious Beverly Hills coach, the show ended on a big twist that hints Spencer's good fortune might have some familial roots.
But before we get to that, let's recap: In the premiere, Coach Baker (Taye Diggs) spotted Spencer at a Crenshaw football game and offered him a chance to play for Beverly Hills High. Spencer would get a better education and a better chance of college scouts coming to see him play, but transitioning from a crime-ridden neighborhood to rich-kid lifestyle is more than Spencer bargained for. He gets along with the girls, specifically Coach Baker's daughter Olivia (Samantha Logan), but the rest of the Beverly Hills football team doesn't welcome him with open arms. What's more intriguing though, is that it turns out that Coach Baker wasn't just hanging around Crenshaw randomly looking for new players when he spotted Spencer.
The final scene of the episode shows Coach Baker returning to Spencer's house and telling Spencer's mom that they need to tell Spencer the truth. What truth could that be? Obviously Coach Baker and Spencer's mom have known each other for longer than the past week, but how deep is that relationship?
TV Guide talked to All American creator April Blair about the twist before she stepped down as showrunner earlier this month for personal reasons. Find out where All American plans to go with this new information below.
When are we going to find out what "the truth" is Coach Baker is referring to at the end of the episode?
April Blair: It will come. We're not gonna draw it out too much. I mean, there are layers of secrets that Billy and Grace are keeping, but the kind of big one, [the] answer about his father, will come within the first few episodes. Because I hate that, when someone just draws out a thing forever... In Episode 3, Jordan starts to find clues into that. Jordan becomes the audience. He's really gonna tell the story of getting under the hood of, "Why does my dad seem so invested in this guy?" and starts to piece together clues that leads him on the path to helping us discover Spencer's parents question. It won't go on. It won't drag on. It's not like an episode-y kind of situation.
The chemistry between Spencer and Olivia is sort of off the charts in this first episode, but then there's this twist that may or may not affect that relationship. Was that chemistry something you were hoping for, or is it something that happened naturally and now you're like, "Oh, we have to deal with this?"
Blair: I always wanted him to be torn between those two girls... It's like, "No, it's the girl down the hall," and then that's going to be complicated by this idea that is this a "Winter Is Coming" situation... I think [Olivia] feels endgame to me, and so you have to make that just stretch out. He can't get the right girl right away.
Aside from this thrilling twist at the end, we also have Coop, who's in very serious trouble. What can you say about Spencer's reaction when he finds out how much trouble she is in?
Blair: Yeah, it's not good. It's really going to upset the balance of him trying to be all things to all people, both on and off the field. He's still trying to be there for his family and his brother and his best friends, but he's trying to give himself this opportunity. I think that's sort of his constant internal struggle, is being torn between those worlds, and seeing that without him there, [for] Coop, there are consequences.
Should we consider Asher to be a villain of this series? Or will we see him soften up a little bit?
Blair: I think that for me the idea was to create certain stereotypes in the pilot. You have the quintessential bad boy who's rich. You have the gang guy. You have all these stereotypes, and then we're gonna move on and explode that. And so the gang guy, we get to know him. We get to tell a story about how boys in these neighborhoods are not their crimes. Sometimes good people do bad things, and Asher, I think, is learning that sometimes the people who are the hardest, and the toughest nuts to crack, actually are the deepest wells, and have something, have more pain — that sometimes that anger has pain. And so it's really presenting these kind of stereotypical teen trope kind of characters and movie tropes, and then trying to explode them a little.
How is living with the coach going to complicate things for Spencer?
Blair: I do think it affords him a privilege, and access to a different type of education and different way of life. ... Living in Billy's house is going to complicate things in terms of his playing status, things will come up. And as we unearth more and more secrets, him living there gets more and more complicated.
Why do you think people should tune in to the rest of this series?
Blair: I just think it's a special show. I don't have fangs. I mean, not me in particular, but we don't have vampire fangs, or superhero feats, or witches, we just have the really simple, American story about families and belonging. I think it's a story that at least I need right now, which is why I wanted to tell it — about how we are more alike than we are different. ... I have a 15-year-old daughter. Kids today feel more political and interested in issues and injustice. I think that it just feels like a real grounded, back-to-the-roots of the shows I loved. I hope people wanna see those shows again. I feel like it's kind of nostalgic but contemporary.
All American continues Wednesdays at 9/8c on The CW.
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