All American is the best CW show of 2021

All American -- "After Hours" -- Image Number: ALA319a_0225r.jpg -- Pictured: Daniel Ezra as Spencer -- Photo: Bill Inoshita/The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved
All American -- "After Hours" -- Image Number: ALA319a_0225r.jpg -- Pictured: Daniel Ezra as Spencer -- Photo: Bill Inoshita/The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved /

The CW is known for the Arrowverse and dark, twisting teen dramas, so you’d think that All American would be out of place on the network but somehow it’s not.

In its own way, the series upholds The CW’s motto, “dare to defy,” without having the typical trappings of the programming that’s made the channel a must-watch for teens and young adults for well over a decade.

All American isn’t full of superheroes or supernatural beings. There aren’t battles between good and evil. There’s nothing glamorized, romanticized, or over-the-top about the show.

The scraps, scrapes, and situations the characters find themselves in are based on real world issues that real life teens go through. It’s a series that takes into account current events but also embraces joy and progress, inspiring its audience and making us laugh, cry, and yell at our screens.

Prior to 2018, if you’d asked me if a football drama could find its legs on The CW, I’d have told you not a chance.

On the network where vampires, witches, and werewolves thrive? The channel whose claim to fame began with Gossip Girl, a series about wealthy teenagers doing scandalous things in New York City? The home of DCTV?

Sure, if you Google it, you’d know that The CW has had sports dramas before but they either didn’t make it past the first season like Hellcats or moved to a different channel and found success elsewhere like The Game.

But not only did All American find its audience. It’s also one of the best shows on The CW. Consistently, the story of Spencer James’ time as a football player for both the Crenshaw Chargers and the Beverly Hills Eagles has been some of the best television I’ve ever seen.

All American is the best show on The CW

All American leans hard into the kind of storytelling that makes sports dramas such compelling narratives to invest in.

Spencer is a young man who wants to uplift his community and reach for his dreams. He’s constantly shouldering a burden that’s not meant solely for his shoulders, but he’s surrounded by the positive influences of his loved ones.

There are rivalries on and off the field personally and romantically. Issues of classism and racism that inform Spencer’s world view and that of his friends like Coop, Olivia, and Jordan. The series deftly navigates mental health issues from depression to substance abuse.

The adults in All American aren’t infallible, but they are pillars of support and strength for their children, students, and those they care about. Family issues are explored including infidelity, homophobia, abandonment, loss of a parent, and more.

It’s a feel good show that also takes the time to portray teens discovering themselves and their abilities while also dealing with the consequences of their mistakes and the ways they hurt others intentionally or not.

Out of all the shows currently airing on The CW, All American has the most heart. Yes, I am saying that with full knowledge that The Flash is considered to be the beating heart of the channel. But, if we’re talking all around storytelling, character development, and purpose, All American takes the top spot this year.

The episodes speak for themselves, so if you’ve never watched All American, you can stream seasons 1-3 on Netflix and catch the latest season 4 episodes on The CW app and

Next. The 26 best CW shows of all time. dark

All American made this year’s FanSided Fandoms of the Year list. Check out the full rundown of shows, sports teams, celebrities, movies, video games, and more that stole our hearts in 2021!