WRITE A STORY THAT MATTERS
I must confess. Typically I am not a fan of shows on the CW. Vampires along with other supernatural beings are great for entertainment, but they are not stories that matter. They don’t move/improve our culture. For the first time in years, it feels like someone in the land of Network Television got it right.
What makes this story different?
At the core of this show is a story that gives hope to an undeserved demographic. But what makes this show special is that creative is centered around a family of the future for the first time. An interracial family. Sure there are other television shows out there where the husband is from one ethnic background and the wife is from another, but nothing truly sticks out in my mind where, an interracial couple has a family together and the kids are a big part of the story. I actually had to do some research and still I cannot find shows to the contrary. Sure you have:
Rick and Lucy from “I Love Lucy”
Ronald and Ellen Freeman Form “True Colors”
Jay and Gloria from “Modern Family”
. . .but Ron and Ellen had kids from previous marriages and Gloria’s son Manny also brought her son in from another marriage. So is this the first time we truly have parents from different ethnicities with kids that are legitimately mixed and everyone has series regular billing? You would not think that in 2020 this would be the case, but in truth, it just might be. If you can think of another case please correct me leaving a comment below.
One can’t help but draw similar story lines and a feel to “Boys in the Hood.” You have a talented young football player from the hood dealing with a number of systemic problems. But the truth is, the story lines are not similar at all. In fact, this show is more similar to “Friday Night Lights.” So few films or TV shows address minorities making it out of the ghetto that drawing comparisons to Boys in the Hood would not be giving the creators of each project their well earned respect. So what sets this great show apart from other shows or films that one might draw comparisons to?
As mentioned before. This could very well be the first TV or Film that has a multicultural family where the mixed biological kids play major roles. This alone deserves an applause from everyone who stands for progress – irregardless of your race, religious beliefs or political affiliation. As we move towards the future, racial boundaries will disappear. Socioeconomic barriers that separated us in the past continue to fall.
Story Lines that matter
I will never forget a conversation I had with Juan Alfonso who was VP of Drama at ABC at the time. I was talking to him about an asset I had the rights to. We didn’t have a script and we didn’t really know what direction we wanted the story to go in. He asked a simple question. Why is that story important? Why do people need to see this?
Besides the diverse cast, All American at it’s core is about a family dealing with different issues many of today’s youth deal with and will continue to experience more.
Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Teens enter high school as inexperienced kids and leave young adults. Whether it’s curiosity, academic pressure or peer pressure, high school students are exposed. More then 20% have been offered, sold or given drugs on school property. 59% of High School seniors have tried Alcohol, 30% drank within the last month and 13% binge.
Molding our Youth
Mindless entertainment is great. Creating and/or watching silly shows for the sake of entertainment and laughs are great. But as we move towards a economy in distress, thwarted by the coronavirus, inflation and and other overwhelming factors that further separate the haves and the have nots, stories like All American become more important. As writers, your primary goal is to create great stories. Here we have a village, shaping a kid with potential to become his best self. Isn’t that what we should be doing as a society? The power of the written word can change the world when those words are given a platform and an audience. Whether your thoughts and ideas align with Dr. King, President Trump or Hitler – understand the power of words and their reach and how it all can change the temperature of a culture.
Aspiration and Inspiration
What makes this one of the best shows on air is Spencer’s drive and how the cast rallies around him to give him a shot at a better life. Here you have a kid from the hood that knows what he wants and goes after it. The show addresses a very REAL fact. No one can do great things on their own. Coach Baker provides opportunity moving Spencer to Beverly Hills as well as structure. Coop provides a layered story between what life would have been like had Coach Baker not taken Spencer out of Crenshaw. Each episode, Spencer has small victories bringing him one step closer to his goals.
On camera representation has always been a hot topic. Age, race, and sexual preference. Who we are and where we are from dictates our experience, yet we all look for someone we can relate to on screen. A character we can identify, empathize and sympathize with.
When creating Narratives. . .
make sure to create stories that move society in the right direction. You don’t to save everyone, but write stories that provide hope and you will have at least caught our attention. Also check out this article for more insight to stories that we think matter:
Tell Stories that Matter
From there, who knows, perhaps we team up and put the next great story that matters on tv together. For now, thank you CW for getting this one right.