The CW’s newest high school drama, All American, sets its scene in Los Angeles, where a young football star from South Central comes to live in the affluent world Beverly Hills in order to help a down-on-his-luck coach take his football team to glory. If that sounds ridiculously familiar to you, don’t worry! The writers and creators of the series are well aware that they’ve basically written a hybrid of The O.C and Friday Night Lights.
“I love [Friday Night Lights], it’s a big inspiration for this,” executive producer April Blair said at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. “We’ve all been watching a lot of Last Chance U also, which is really inspiring. And then all the sort of classics that we love like The O.C. and Dawson’s [Creek] and things like that, that inspired us as well.”
The pressure for a high school football team to have a stellar season lest the coach lose his job is definitely reminiscent of Friday Night Lights. In every other respect, All American seems to be a sports-centered retelling of The O.C.: A young, grizzled teenager lifted out of poverty and dropped in a world of wealth and prejudice, the alluring addict love interest living just down the hall, and of course, the obligatory jock douchebag bent on making the new kid’s life hell. While the creators of All American are definitely aware of the similarities, they were quick to point of the major deviations the series will take from their shared premise.
“It’s definitely not The O.C. model where we take Spencer out of South Central and plop him in Beverly Hills and he’s a fish out of water and it’s the good life,” Blair said. “This is about a boy who really is straddling two worlds and we see him straddle those two worlds all the time… What makes it different is it really exists as the tale of two cities. Unlike in The O.C where he left and never went back to Chino, we go back and we really spend a lot of time and energy telling the stories of the community he comes from as well as the one he entered.”
Blair estimated that there would be about a 60/40 split between Beverly Hills and South Central in Season 1, which will naturally take Spencer’s story in a different direction than Ryan Atwood’s (Benjamin Mckenzie). Even if that’s the case, building the foundation of this series on a blend of two massively popular series is not necessarily a bad thing. Audiences loved those shows for a reason, and so long as All American differentiates itself enough — and it undoubtably will given the racial themes already running deep through the show in the pilot — this could be everyone’s next teen drama obsession.
All American premieres Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 9/8c on The CW.
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