‘All American’ 1×13 Review: Legacy

Sometimes, the problem with All American is the same thing that can, at other times, be the best thing about All American.

I like the show. I don’t think there’s anything quite like it on TV, and there is certainly no show that’s geared towards the same audience and trying to achieve the same thing this show is trying to achieve. I don’t think it has the audience it deserves for what it is, though, and part of the problem for that is that the show has never truly figured out how to consistently tap into the best parts about itself.

Well, that and the fact that the CW seems to have given up on the show way before it found it’s legs, but that’s neither here nor there.

And it has been good, at times. Plenty of times. There have been emotional, engaging story-lines. The actors, especially the younger generation, has had stand-out moments. There are characters that make you feel. It’s just that not all of them do, and not all of the story-lines work.

Sometimes – most times, really, the characters and the situations the show is trying to put those characters in end up falling flat, and we are robbed of feeling what we could and likely should be feeling. This isn’t always on the plot, yes, it’s never exactly subtle, but this is the CW, and a show doesn’t require subtlety in its plot-lines if it has great acting or, at least, interesting characters we can relate to.

If those things don’t align, though, the whole house of cards crumbles.

To be fair, there are also times, like last episode, the show hits a home-run and we are left wondering if we could get the same level of emotion, the same amount of realness every week. And then the next week comes, and we just …don’t.

What works in All American? The football part, of course. As a big sports fan, that was what first drew me into the show, and I can at least admit that part is always done right. Which really, should give me a hell of a thrill, but it mostly just makes me sad because I keep thinking this could have, even should have, been a hit, and instead the show is likely to be cancelled by the CW.

The CW. Let that sink in.

Ultimately, this episode, entitled “Legacy,” sorta encapsulates what this show does best, and worse. We still care about Coop’s spiral, even when she’s in the background of an episode, because her story-line has been consistent, the acting has been on point and her relationship with Spencer tethers her to the narrative in a way that makes her essential. We can’t imagine this show without Coop, and we worry about the road she’s on.

We, however, don’t really care about Asher and Spencer’s budding friendship, if you can even call it that, because we haven’t been given a reason to care even one iota about Asher. We really and truly don’t care about Spencer’s father, even if the show tried to set up the show in the first few episodes so it could revolve around the mystery of this absent man.

You know why we don’t care? Because this isn’t his story, it’s Spencer, and he forfeited the right to be part of his son’s story a while ago. Other people have been there, other people have made Spencer’s story something we relate to, and that’s who we’re going to invest in.

And, if Spencer does care – well, he’s entitled to that, but we’re not going to worry about the secrets that are left to be discovered, not really. We’re busy worrying about other people, like Coop and Layla.

There are only three episodes left in this whole thing. Three. I anticipate there will be emotions coming, and I anticipate the main relationships are going to be tested. I just hope that, if this is the end, I’m left with something other than great promise and characters that, at times, I can really, really love, and at others, I’m not sure I care about.

All American airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on the CW.

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