While math is definitely not my subject, using the equation above to describe the new CW drama All American makes the most sense. Why? Because there is so much lifted from both shows it’s almost laughable. Luckily, the writers chose to lift the parts that are fun and interesting while still maintaining the juicy drama viewers expect and providing a captivating storyline. In fact, here’s some more math: Billy Baker = Sandy Cohen and Spencer James = Ryan Atwood.
The beginning credits bill All American as a story “inspired by true events” and by that they mean real-life ex-NFL player Spencer Paysinger left his high school, located in a rough neighborhood, to play football at Beverly Hills High School. In the show, Spencer James is recruited by Coach Billy Baker to leave Crenshaw and get a far superior Beverly Hills education. Unlike The O.C.’s Ryan Atwood, who leaves Chino to escape his horrible mom and brother for a better overall life in Orange County, Spencer still goes home on weekends to spend time with his amazing mom and brother.
Ways The O.C. and All American pilots are similar:
- Poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks gets invited into the glossy life that includes upscale parties, infinity pools, and teenagers driving expensive cars.
- Characters say “Welcome to the O.C. bitch” and “Welcome to Beverly Hills.”
- Ryan and Spencer’s fathers aren’t seen – only talked about.
- The person doing the saving is a husband/father who brings the poor kid into his home. When they approach the mansion he lives in, the poor kid points out that the house is nice for the husband/father’s line of work. Both respond that the wife (blonde in both shows) makes all the money.
- Kids at school are judgmental of both Spencer and Ryan who end up being academically and athletically gifted.
- Husband/father comes from the same background as the poor kid which is a point of bonding for both of them.
- The first party attended by the poor kid features beautiful people in a beautiful house drinking and doing drugs while whispering about the new kid in school.
- The girl next door (literally in The O.C. and figuratively in All American) is interested in the new kids in town.
- During the first season of The O.C., Ryan’s mom is a white trash train wreck while Spencer’s mom in All American is (thankfully) smart and awesome.
- Sandy Cohen starts off as a public defender trying to help a client who is in desperate need of a different life. Billy Baker is more self-serving. He wants Spencer on his team because he knows he will help the team win games and solidify his job as head coach.
- While Kirsten Cohen initially wants nothing to do with Ryan, Laura Baker is very welcoming to Spencer from the beginning.
- Ryan only dabbles in sports in the first season while Spencer’s life is all about football.
Speaking of which, the major similarities to Friday Night Lights mostly have to do with the football aspect of the show: Boosters have too much say in what happens on and off the field, the coach will do whatever it takes to win, and everyone attends games on Friday nights. Although FNL was centered around football to a degree, the storylines went way beyond that which also happens on All American.
But all of the plot points aside, what matters is that all three shows are well-acted which makes for compelling characters and storylines. Similar to how the superior acting from Ben McKenzie, Peter Gallagher, Kelly Rowan, etc. made The O.C.’s first season so popular, All American’s first season has been excellent so far due to Daniel Ezra, Taye Diggs, and Bre Z, among others, turning in excellent performances. And of course, FNL’s first season is widely considered one of the best in television history.
Catch up OnDemand during the Christmas holiday and then tune in when All American returns in January.