All American: Homecoming charts a new path for The CW

All American: Homecoming -- "Start Over" -- Image Number: AHC101a_0697r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Rhoyle Ivy King as Nathaniel Hardin, Geffri Maya as Simone Hicks and Netta Walker as Keisha McCalla -- Photo: Ser Baffo/The CW -- (C) 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
All American: Homecoming -- "Start Over" -- Image Number: AHC101a_0697r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Rhoyle Ivy King as Nathaniel Hardin, Geffri Maya as Simone Hicks and Netta Walker as Keisha McCalla -- Photo: Ser Baffo/The CW -- (C) 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

This is a spoiler-free review

All American: Homecoming, the latest spin-off series to come to The CW, sets All American fans (and those new to Simone Hicks’ story) on a path marked by change. “Start Over,” the premiere episode, is an apt opening to the narrative the All American: Homecoming writers are welcoming the audience into on Bringston University‘s campus.

In All American season 3, we were given a taste of what to expect from the community fostered at this HBCU. Simone (Geffri Maya) bonded with both Keisha (Netta Walker) and Nate (Rhoyle Ivy King), two characters who serve as her touchstones in her own series and bring a different element to the table.

Keisha is a fun-loving and loyal friend who makes her concerns known to those she cares about when it’s needed but struggles to follow her own advice at times. Particularly when it comes to the career path she’s denying because of what’s expected of her.

Nate is a lot like Keisha, warm and supportive, she’s always willing to lend a listening ear. However, she’s not one to let her friends shield her or others from reality. Most things in life have to be confronted head on, hurtful or otherwise. They all know this as Black people, but for Nate there’s an extra layer to that mindset because she’s non-binary.

The pair take Simone under their wings, helping her to adjust to campus life especially when there’s an unexpected circumstance that leaves her in dire straits. Without spoiling things, I can say that Simone finds out pretty quickly how much she’s on her own now that she’s off at college. The group of friends she’s building, however, is what keeps her going along with her aunt Amara (Kelly Jenrette).

Much of the first four episodes of All American: Homecoming deal directly with college life. From campus activities to classroom responsibilities and, of course, student athletics, the series spends the majority of its time on the outset setting the stage.

As such, viewers can expect for the show to read as a college drama that involves collegiate athletes and not a sports drama right off the bat. But, I suspect this will change once Simone and her leading man, Damon Sims (Peyton Alex Smith), swing into high gear in their respective sports: tennis and baseball.

But, regardless of this minor difference from its predecessor, All American: Homecoming will make a name for itself on The CW and it’ll do so by opening the door to a new era for the network.

All American: Homecoming is a sign of change on The CW

All American: Homecoming has a lot of potential as a show. It’s a college drama which is a departure from The CW’s typical formula. The network is known for its teen shows and superhero television. While characters on shows have gone to college, a CW series set on a college campus from the beginning is rare.

The only other show that comes to mind is the rebooted Charmed which is primarily seen as a supernatural program on the network. Bringston University is an integral piece of All American: Homecoming‘s storytelling. The series is juggling more than one major storyline within its first few episodes, the majority of which are centered on situations that directly affect the characters based on their life at college.

Damon and Simone are struggling as athletes. For Damon, it’s hard adjusting to playing on a team that isn’t as well oiled as he’s used to her. They’re in a rebuild period because of the baseball scandal they were embroiled in last year. Damon turned down the major leagues, so this perceived downgrade works not only on his confidence but also the vision of the future he saw for himself.

Thankfully, he has JR Raymond (Sylvester Powell) as his best friend who gets him in gear and reminds Damon of how the choices he makes affects everyone. As for Simone, she’s got to earn her place. While Damon feels like he’s fallen to the bottom, she’s actually on the ground level working herself back to greatness. Their stories parallel but they contrast in ways that tend to bring them closer.

Amara is dealing with the aftermath of the baseball scandal in ways she didn’t anticipate and they’re rumblings at the university concerning its future and the direction the school needs to take. Between her and Coach Marcus Turner (Cory Hardrict), there are side plots in the series that’ll have serious implications down the road concerning Damon and Simone.

The characters are also navigating dorm life, team dynamics, and making major life decisions without much parental input so there’s a lot of drama for All American: Homecoming to mine but the writers are doing so with an attention to found family.

At the end of the day, from the young adults to their mentors, this cast of characters wants to see each other win. They want to break bread together, vent about the week, and shore one another up so that they can continue striving for better for themselves as well as the people around them.

The writers of All American: Homecoming understand that this is a college drama and they’re not against following certain known tropes of the genre. There’s partying, bad decision making, and a bit of reckless abandon but there’s also an attention to success, support, community, wellness, and activism that allows the show to be well-rounded and complex.

Not to mention its both fun and funny, so while the series is a bit of a slowburn in the beginning, it’s worth the watch and tuning in Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW starting Feb. 21. Next day streaming will be available on the CW app and

How many episodes are in All American: Homecoming?. dark. Next