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What ‘All American’ Gets Right—and Hilariously Wrong—About High School Football Culture

There are plenty of on-again, off-again romances in All American. After all, it’s a teen drama—the show’s primary elements are hot people making out with other hot people, hot people making out with other other hot people, and characters saying things like, “Maybe we should tell your son the truth about what really happened all those years ago …” three seconds before the credits roll. (There are 32 episodes of All American thus far; I’d estimate about 29 of them end this way. ) But the most interesting on-again, off-again relationship in All American is the show’s flirtation with football realism. The series is based loosely on the story and career of Spencer Paysinger, who grew up in South Los Angeles, played football at Beverly Hills High School, and excelled in both college (Paysinger was a key linebacker on the Oregon team that made the 2011 BCS national championship game) and the NFL (he played seven seasons in the league, winning Super Bowl XLVI with the Giants). In All American, Paysinger is represented by Spencer James (played by Daniel Ezra), who gets spotted at South Crenshaw High by NFL star turned Beverly High head coach Billy Baker (played by Taye Diggs).

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