In the beginning of All American, the CW drama following a Black teen (Daniel Ezra) struggling to reconcile his Compton identification along with his promising new life as a soccer star dwelling in Beverly Hills, it explored questions of Blackness, colorism, and privilege by way of a principally singular coming-of-age story. Now, as that narrative continues to evolve in All American Season 3, we see a few of those self same themes play out with various levels of success, and a central character grappling with a seemingly self-appointed accountability to be every part to everybody.
Problems with identification all through adolescence are as widespread as ever, particularly in immediately’s social media world the place they’re too typically topic to the courtroom of public opinion, and All American has filtered that by way of a captivating highschool sports activities lens. It started with the query: What occurs to Spencer (Ezra) — the younger Black athlete who earns a ticket to success in a principally white, prosperous neighborhood but in addition feels obligated to uphold his previous district — in addition to his single mom (Karimah Westbrook) and brother (Jalyn Hall)? However since then, showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll expanded the collection, impressed by real-life soccer participant Spencer Paysinger, past its locker-room attraction to extra broadly discover each landscapes and the folks inside them. And it has been higher for it.
Originating from the present’s Compton storyline, there may be Spencer’s longtime greatest pal, Coop (Bre-Z), who he has managed to considerably take underneath his wing and away from felony exercise, in order that she will be able to absolutely notice her goals to be a rapper. Coop’s evolution, propelled by Bre-Z’s endlessly partaking efficiency, has gone from supporting character to a dominant narrative that delves into her profession aspirations, a brand new dynamic along with her now-touring singer girlfriend (Chelsea Tavares), in addition to a previous that continues to comply with her.
Equally, there may be loads of attention-grabbing drama stemming from the Beverly Hills facet of the collection. Spencer’s transfer into, then later out of, coach Billy Baker’s dwelling (Taye Diggs) sparked the latter’s complete household to have troublesome conversations about race for the primary time of their remarkably elite lives. So, it should not come as a shock that Carroll and her workforce have grounded the characters even additional now by incorporating immediately’s period of the Black Lives Matter motion into their storylines.
Not solely is Coach Baker’s household grappling with their very own complicity, which has compelled his daughter, Olivia (Samantha Logan), to ascertain her personal woke agenda, all of them have engrossing storylines. Billy nonetheless struggles to restore his marriage along with his spouse (Monet Mazur) after she learns of his long-ago affair with Spencer’s mother, whereas he additionally fights to achieve the respect of his new soccer workforce in Compton that’s reluctant to embrace each his and Spencer’s return to the neighborhood.
In the meantime, Billy’s son, Jordan (Michael Evans Behling), grapples with a shocking new coach in addition to how one can navigate what’s left of his relationship with Simone (GeffriMaya) after discovering out he isn’t the daddy of her child, and now she is pressured to make a tricky determination. Oh, and Olivia, like just about everybody else on this present, should take care of her personal share of romance drama as she rekindles her relationship with Asher (Cody Christian), simply as the brand new college 12 months brings new obstacles for them.
All of the characters — in addition to the actors — convey a lot to All American that it ought to compel the writers to develop a contemporary goal for Spencer, who’s been diminished to somebody who’s assigned himself obligations that far exceed his allegiance to his neighborhood or figuring out his personal identification. Whereas his relationship along with his mother has at all times teetered extra on man-of-the-house and fewer on son (particularly with a Black mom who would not seem to be she would tolerate any such nonsense), Spencer’s insistence that he tackle paternal duties or advise Billy on how one can handle his workforce are superfluous.
Judging solely by the primary two episodes of the brand new season which were made out there to press, it looks like the writers have run out of concepts for Spencer, which is tough to think about contemplating that even after every part that has already occurred, there may be nonetheless room for self-discovery for him. Although he and his girlfriend, Layla (Greta Oniegou), at the moment are on the outs — and she or he is wrapped up within the music world with Endurance, anyway — this might be a great time to take a more in-depth take a look at his post-high college goals and/or his personal paternal void, particularly since his father’s dying. It is time to actually reply the query: Who does Spencer wish to be? Or perhaps a neater query contemplating his age: How does Spencer really feel about who he’s proper now?
Nonetheless, All American is an simply digestible collection coping with real-world points primarily by way of a teenage lens, even when it has forgotten its preliminary function. Ezra, who’s persistently been in a position to masks his native British accent higher than many veteran actors, stays an attractive protagonist whose skills will hopefully be put to larger use this season.
TV Information score: 3/5
All American Season Three premieres Monday, Jan. 18 on The CW