Review: All American inspires viewers with issues bigger than football

Madeline Schallmoser, Sports Editor

It seems like everyone and their mother is raving about at least one of many trending Netflix shows as we’re all stuck at home. While I haven’t gotten around to watching Tiger King or Outer Banks, I finished the two available seasons of All American embarrassingly fast. 

The show, based on a true story, stars high school wide receiver Spencer James (Daniel Ezra). James takes his football talents from gang-ridden South Crenshaw High to a far more lavish lifestyle at Beverly High in hopes of making his NFL dreams a reality. 

Creator April Blair strikes a perfect balance between the world of football and the world outside of sports. The thrill of competition shines in every episode as James competes both with and among his teammates.

Though the main plot of the show follows James’s football journey, intricate subplots shed light on social issues far beyond the turf. James’s relationship with childhood best friend Tamia ‘Coop’ Cooper (Bre-Z) highlights the harsh realities of gang involvement.

As Coop falls in with the wrong crowd at South Crenshaw High, it becomes clear just how difficult it is to ‘get out.’ The emotional toll this takes on James reveals his loyal, intense, and passionate character. 

Coop’s struggle to be accepted, specifically by her mother, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community brings yet another social issue to attention. As she grows to understand and accept herself, she finds uplifting talent 

The lives of wealthy Beverly High students consist of much different struggles than those common in Crenshaw, but viewers do not forget that rich kids can have problems too. 

James’s girlfriend and Beverly High ‘royalty’ Leila Keating (Greta Onieogou) deals with mental health and family struggles under a polished exterior of kind smiles, mascara, and designer clothes. Keating’s character development is the perfect image of the true bravery in vulnerability. 

A theme of community and togetherness brought happy tears to my eyes. James consistently proves that sports are almost never just about a ball, some dirt, and a few painted lines. He uses football to rebuild his family, give himself a brighter future, and save South Crenshaw High. 

He plays for his community, his home, his childhood. James’s selflessness and maturity remind us that we all have a voice, an opportunity to stand up for what we believe in. 

Dealing with everything from the LGBTQ+ community to police brutality to race to gang violence to drug usage to mental health issues, All American leaves no stone unturned. But as these issues weigh heavy on viewers’ hearts, the strength of community and the bond of a family leave us inspired and empowered.