‘All American’ 1×12 Review: “Back in the Day”

When the CW announced their early renewals during TCA week (as they almost always do), and All American wasn’t in the list, I started to worry. Sure, the show hasn’t had the best ratings, but this is the CW, and they renewed Dynasty, for crying out loud! Dynasty. If there’s one network that can typically be said not to care as much about ratings, it’s the CW.

And yet, here we are, no renewal in sight and just four more episodes to go after this one, and is it shocking that All American is getting better now that it’s life seems to be hanging on the balance?

It shouldn’t be. The show took a little to find it’s balance, but once it did, it’s only been getting better, and as it stands, I’d rather be watching this show than any of the DCTV shows the CW will never cancel. I’d rather be worried about Spencer’s athletic future, and investing in Olivia’s sobriety.

How the tables have turned.

So, today, let’s go into “Back in the Day” as we discuss the friendships, the love affairs and the family that these people have become.

Choices

Olivia’s issues with addiction are back on the forefront in “Back in the Day,” and I, for one, am very glad the show has decided not just to tackle this storyline, but to do so from the real perspective that addiction isn’t really something you fix, not completely. Addiction is a daily struggle. Some days are better than others, some days you feel like you can’t breathe, and no matter what, despite the fact that, in the end, the decision is yours and yours alone, it’s easier to not be alone as you make that decision.

Almost relapsing isn’t something to be ashamed of. I wouldn’t even have judged Olivia if she had, to be honest, and the reason is that the show has done a really good job of presenting her reasons for doing things, and making her sympathetic.

But, above that, the show has also stayed realistic – her family was there for Olivia after her near overdose, and through her treatment, but now she looks fine, and seems fine, so it’s easy to forget that she’s struggling against it every day. That’s real, and also real is that Olivia doesn’t want to go to them to ask for help, she feels like she’s a burden, and they’ve already done so much. She has to be strong for them now.

Thankfully, Olivia has good people on her side, people like Spencer and Layla, who not only supported her, but encouraged her to come clean with her family, to ask for help when she needed it. It doesn’t make her any less strong, in fact, recognizing a weakness and being able to face it, that takes much more strenght than anything else.

I’m proud of Olivia today, and I’m proud of her family – not just her blood family, because family isn’t just that. Family is the people that stand by you. Family is who you choose, and All American keeps, week after week, showing us exactly that.

Friendship Goals

Coop and Spencer’s relationship is the purest thing on this show and maybe the purest thing in the universe, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. It’s so rare that a show can base so much of what it is, so much of what it’s main character is, especially a show that’s centered on sports, on his relationship with a woman who isn’t a romantic partner, but here we are. And I’m living for it.

Especially because Coop? She’s not gonna sugarcoat shit. When Spencer is being an asshole, he’s being an asshole. When he’s letting his daddy issues (and boy, does he have a ton of those, and pretty good reasons for it to boot) to affect his relationship with Layla, then Coop is not just going to sit back and let him figure it out by himself, no. Coop is gonna let him have it.

Because not so deep down, she loves him as much as Layla does, even if it’s a different kind of love. And Spencer needs to get out of his own head and believe that people love him, believe that not everyone in his life is going to leave him. But, even when he’s having trouble believing that, he’ll have Coop there to kick his ass, and that’s a good thing.

Other things to note:

  • Asher, Asher, Asher. After that flashback, I’m side-eyeing you HARD. Were you even drunk as you hooked up with Olivia? You didn’t seem all that drunk. You could clearly see how messed up she was. So why? Why?
  • Trash.
  • I hate Coop’s mom, I do.
  • She’s legitimately more concerned about who her daughter might be sleeping with than THE ACTUAL THINGS SHE SHOULD BE CONCERNED ABOUT COOP DOING.
  • Also, Coop’s dad, nice that you care and everything, but you were a bit useless.
  • Jordan, don’t you say a word.
  • I love that Coop can knock sense into Spencer, but what boy need is actual therapy.

All American airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on the CW.

Lawyer. Dreamer. Geek. Eternal optimist. Fangirl since the dawn of time. Hates the color yellow, olives and cigarettes. Has a recurring nightmare where she’s forced to choose between sports and books. Falls in love with fictional characters.