By remaining among Netflix’s trendiest TV titles for weeks on end, CW’s hit hour-long sports drama All American continues to grow in popularity. Season 4 of the show is slated to return to the airwaves on October 25, 2021, leaving plenty of time for those who’ve yet to enjoy the series to catch up with all of the on-field and off-field drama surrounding Spencer James (Daniel Ezra) and his friends and family.
While All American joins a long line of sports dramas, the show vastly differentiates from the comedic sitcom format and instead focuses on the personal, professional, and socioeconomic drama that Spencer and his circle face as they pursue their dreams of making the NFL.
10 Playmakers (2003) – Stream Free On Youtube
Playmakers marked the first original drama series produced by ESPN. The show tracks half a dozen football players on The Cougars, a fictional professional football team playing in a made-up conference called The League. Much like All American, the gritty drama balances on-field intrigue with compelling off-field drama.
Despite the high ratings and positive reviews, Playmakers was canceled when the NFL disliked the negative portrayal of professional players and put pressure on the show to be discontinued. Still, fans of All American will love the intense grid-iron action, disparate social backgrounds the players come from, and the educational aspects of the game itself.
9 Pitch (2016) – Stream On Hulu
Pitch is a perfect TV sports drama to binge alongside All American. The hour-long Fox series traces the unlikely success of Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury), a super talented baseball star overcoming the tallest odds to become the first female pitcher in the Major Leagues.
Like Spencer James in All American, Ginny has to prove herself time and again in a Southern California environment that is new and unfamiliar to her. While proving her worth on the field and earning the respect of her teammates off of it, Ginny is also an extremely positive female role model who breaks barriers and sets an example to strive for. BothAll American and Pitch feature strong Black leads who give truly inspiring performances.
8 One Tree Hill (2003) – Stream On Hulu
Also produced by The CW, One Tree Hill shares the same tone, tenor, and temperament as All American. Both shows emphasize the melodramatic interplay between young high school students struggling to maintain their competitive positions on their sports teams.
In One Tree Hill, brothers Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Nathan Scott (James Lafferty) compete to make the Hill Ravens basketball team in North Carolina. However, like All American, the show explores much more than just sports, as Lucas and Nathan navigate the pitfalls of gossipy adolescence, romantic infidelity, family tumult, athletic failures and triumphs, and a lot more.
7 Heels (2021) – Stream On Starz
A brand new series for All American fans to watch is Heels, the dramatic flipside to Netflix’s Glow that traces the grittier side of professional wrestling. The story centers on brothers Jack and Ace (played by Stephen Amell and Alexander Ludwig, respectively), two rival wrestlers trying to make and maintain a name for themselves in the ring.
The intense Starz drama pulls no punches as it examines the difficult bonds of brotherhood, the artifice of showmanship, the fierce athletic rivalries of veteran and upcoming wrestlers, and the dedication it takes to be an all-time great. Many of these themes can be found in All American as well.
6 Kingdom (2014) – Stream On Peacock
While MMA and football have little in common on the surface, the hour-long sports drama Kingdom still shares a lot of common ground with All American. Both shows take place in Los Angeles and feature a once-prominent athlete attempting to pass his gift to his children.
Frank Grillo gives a gripping turn as Alvey Kulina, a retired mixed martial arts fighter who owns and operates the St. Navy training gym. Like Corey does with Spencer in All American, Alvey tries his best to impart invaluable wisdom to his talented son, Ryan (Matt Lauria), a once-promising MMA fighter who went to jail for assaulting Alvey. More dramatic yet, Alvey is dating his son’s ex-fiance, creating the same juicy love triangles seen on All American as well.
5 Friday Night Lights (2006) – Stream On Hulu
As television’s premiere football drama, Friday Night Lights is the easiest and most obvious show to watch for fans of All American. With a highly engaging balance of personal drama and athletic intrigue, the show currently ranks #125 on IMDb’s Top 250 TV shows of all time.
The series revolves around Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler), the dedicated coach of the local Dillon Panthers high-school football team in Texas. As Eric weighs his obligations to the team and his family priorities, the various players on the team deal with their own personal triumphs and tribulations. Like All American, Friday Night Lights raises poignant social issues and offers salient commentary about growing up and competing with people from different backgrounds.
4 Ted Lasso (2020) – Stream On Apple TV+
While the format differs quite dramatically from All American, it’s hard to mention sports shows these days without including the runaway Apple TV+ hit Ted Lasso. The half-hour sitcom stars Jason Sudeikis as the funny title character Ted Lasso, an inept American football coach who travels abroad to coach an English football (soccer) club. Hilarity and hijinks ensue in the fish-out-of-water comedy, which is currently ranked #78 on IMDB’s TV Top 250.
While Ted’s relocation is played for laughs, Spencer’s relocation from Crenshaw to Beverly Hills is played for drama, but both explore culture clash in ways that help their characters grow, gain new perspectives, and shed whatever preconceived judgments they had beforehand.
3 The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers (2021) – Stream On Disney+
With a more family-friendly comedic bent, the new Disney+ original series The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers has received even better reviews than the big-screen franchise entries of the ’90s. The show is bound to appeal to All American fans due to its likable ensemble of young characters and riveting, high-stakes athletic action.
With Emilio Estevez returning to the iconic role of youth hockey coach Gordon Bombay, the show is both nostalgic for the past and progressively forward-thinking as it raises current social issues relating to inclusion, single parenthood, teenage angst, and adolescent romance, all of the same themes explored on All American.
2 Big Shot (2021) – Stream On Disney+
John Stamos headlines the Disney+ sports drama Big Shot, in which he plays a moody basketball coach named Marvyn Korn. After being fired from his position, Korn is forced to accept a job coaching an all-female basketball team at a prestigious private school.
In addition to sharing the same teenage demographic as All American, Big Shot also shares the same lighthearted Disney air as the CW show. Even when the drama gets serious, both shows handle the subject matter with a light touch that never becomes depressingly dark. More importantly, as a show about empowered young women, the show celebrates the triumphs of marginalized athletes in the same honorable way that All American does.
1 Ballers (2015) – Stream On HBO Max
While slightly more adult-themed, Ballers is the best show for All Americans to graduate to once the show is completed. The intoxicating HBO drama centers on Spencer Strasmore (Dwayne Johnson), a former football player turned wheeling-and-dealing sports agent in Miami attempting to make his clientele happy while finding his own sense of purpose.
Essentially the sports version of Entourage, the show follows all the ins and outs of the business side of professional football, as well as the grueling day-to-day grind various players face in a cut-throat world of hyper-violent competition. As it depicts the evolution of high-school and college athletes reaching the highest level, the show is ideal for All American fans to understand what it takes to become a professional football player.