Wednesday, May 22, 2024

‘All American’ Showrunner Breaks Down Tension Between Jordan & Spencer As GAU’s Football Season Heats Up

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SPOILER ALERT! This post contains details from Episode 602 of The CW‘s All American.

Only two episodes in to Season 6 of All American and tensions are already on the rise.

The NFL dream is closer than it’s ever been for Spencer after Monday night’s episode, but now it’s becoming clearer that there’s still every opportunity for outside factors to get in the way. After spending much of the pre-season begging the press to pay more attention to the rest of his team, he’s actually not so thrilled when they do just that after Coach Mac encourages Jordan to widen his offensive strategy to include other players, rather than continuing to pass to Spencer. Ultimately, it helps them win their first game of the season, but it also takes the spotlight off Spencer.

Turns out, Spencer relied a little more on the cameras than he’d like to admit. In the heat of the post-game interview, Spencer decides to declare for the NFL draft eight months early — and pretty much everyone except for his family is disappointed, including Jordan, who was finally getting a bit of attention when Spencer took it all away again.

It seems like getting to the NFL is going to keep causing rifts with everyone in Spencer’s life, because when he tries to talk to Liv about how she doesn’t feel like LA is home anymore, she hits him with a dose of reality that, once he’s drafted, he’ll have to adjust to navigating a new city on his own, too.

Meanwhile, Liv also has to make amends for signing a book deal to write her dad’s biography without consulting Jordan or their mom. When she approaches Jordan for the first time, he lashes out at her for making that decision without them.

And speaking of Jordan, he’s got a lot on his plate for a college junior. Don’t forget, he’s still wedding planning. He spends much of Episode 2 trying to convince Layla to move into the beach house with him, but she keeps brushing off the idea before finally telling him she doesn’t want to live together until they’re married. But, it doesn’t quite seem like that’s the whole truth.

Deadline spoke with All American showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll about Episode 2 in the interview below.

DEADLINE: Jordan had a really strong reaction to Liv’s book deal. I’m not sure he’s in the wrong, but also the way he spoke to Liv about it seemed a bit rough. Do you think it was justified?

NKECHI OKORO CARROLL: I don’t believe Jordan is wrong because the way Liv approached it. She’s been doing this whole thing about the new her, and so for Jordan, he’s still processing the information about the book deal and what that would mean about what they reveal about their dad and everything. So Liv presented to him it like it was a book idea that she wanted to get his buy in on, and then the minute he finds out, there’s already a deal in place. That’s why his feelings got hurt, because it’s like if you’ve already signed a deal and exchanged advancement money, someone is expecting it. You’re doing it. So then asking permission, if you ask him after the fact, that feels a little performative. We felt he was justified in calling Liv on that. If you’re going to say this is the new you, and you’re coming to me and saying you want to get my permission, what you really wanted was my willingness to help you convince mom with something you’ve already moved forward with. That’s why ultimately, Liv backtracks and understands, ‘He’s right. I messed up. So much for the new me. I did find the deal. I did move forward to that, and then I came home to ask for permission.’ So it felt like that wasn’t a regression in Jordan’s maturity and growth.

DEADLINE: I think it’s not always his feelings but the way he expresses them that I wonder about. When he lashes out at Spencer at dinner after Spencer declares for the draft, that felt similar.

CARROLL: I hear you on that. I think I respectfully disagree, because I think Jordan is allowed to have his feelings about this. Old Jordan would have gotten in Spencer’s face and there would have probably been like a semi-fight there. But what he did was just call him on his honest behavior. I think him calling Liv on her honest behavior and calling Spencer on his honest behavior is maturity. He’s allowed to still have the feelings. He has he’s allowed to still be annoyed by it. Does he go off on a bender and crash the car? Does he shove Spencer up against the wall and fight him? No. That would have been old, immature Jordan. But mature Jordan is still allowed to have the feelings he has, and he’s allowed to call them on their behavior when it’s hurtful to him…not making it [their] problem, but he’s allowed to absolutely let them know how he feels about something they did. Spencer, even if he couldn’t admit it to himself, legitimately was panicked about the lack of attention and what that could mean for his ranking and everything. He blurted something out, and part of calling him out on that is be honest about why you did it.

DEADLINE: I will agree there. Spencer did mess up. What was going through his head in that moment?

CARROLL: The stakes aren’t just about are you going to be first string on a team or third string on a team. The stakes aren’t just about a scholarship or college. The stakes are his NFL dream. And so this is probably the most high stakes thing Spencer is going to deal with until we’re looking at, you know, birth of children and all of that stuff. This is literally the dream in the palm of his hand. And so is he always going to make the right decisions under that pressure? No. Is the new coach and the decisions that new coach is making having a direct effect on how people look at Spencer? Absolutely. We’re gonna see that play out over the season. Are there moments where he could have handled it better? Sure. But this is a 21-year-old kid who’s trying to transition from college to one of the toughest dreams in the world, which is to draft in the NFL. We’re gonna see what the ebbs and flows of that look like and how much the young kid in him who is seeing a dream slip away wars with a more mature version of Spencer — who, by the way, everyone is always telling him to look out for himself and that he’s got too much of a superhero complex, and he needs to work on himself. We’re gonna see him try to do that this season. But finding that balance between focusing on yourself in a healthy way and turning into a little bit of an asshole…finding that fine line is going to be hard for Spencer when he’s got all these outside pressures on him that are exacerbating the situation.

DEADLINE: Okay let’s talk about those outside pressures, including the new coach. The way he is going behind people’s backs to elevate Jordan is absolutely going to fuel the fire. They may be adults, but they’re only 21.

CARROLL: exactly. They’re juniors and seniors in college and you’re talking about the difference of a contract that could be millions of dollars. Even being drafted round one versus round two has a huge financial implication, let alone not drafted at all. So now these things that are happening have real life implications for all of them. So their reactions to them are gonna be a little bit more extreme. Everyone has a reason why they’re operating from the place they’re operating, including Coach Mac, but that has a ripple effect in other people’s lives. And if you’re going to do that, you got to be prepared for the consequences that come with.

DEADLINE: Going back to Jordan, he really wants Layla to move in. At the end of the episode, she tells him she doesn’t want to live together until they’re married. But is that true, or is something deeper going on there?

CARROLL: You know I can’t give away any spoilers. The concern that she may not be fully being honest with Jordan about what’s going on, I think it’s valid. And the idea that she herself may not be aware of what’s going on is also something to consider, because sometimes we’re reacting to stuff or we’re triggered by stuff, but we actually don’t even realize. So Layla and Jordan are definitely taking a journey this season. It’s been all the whole honeymoon period. They got together, they fell in love, and they got engaged very quickly, and now they’re preparing for a wedding that they set for two years out, and the reality of relationships and anxiety and, again, outside forces — it’s got a lot going on. She’s got a lot of pressures. There is anxiety not just about the wedding, but about everything in this stage of life. Don’t forget that Layla is also someone who struggles sometimes with depression and anxiety and mental health issues. So as you layer on the responsibility she feels for what happened to Patience, even though Patience has told her only Miko is responsible. Add into that the new business of a club that she is adamant she needs to launch properly. A new business partner in her life who is a little bit more carefree. He’s a multimillionaire who gets to walk through life as this very lucky, very rich white male and there aren’t really consequences for anything he does. That has an influence on Layla, except the outcomes aren’t necessarily as carefree for her as they are for him. So we’re gonna see her and Jordan have to navigate all of those things while Jordan’s star is also rising in football, while all of a sudden Spencer’s life will become a little bit of Jordan’s life as he gets more attention in football. They have to navigate all of those outside forces to get to where they need to get to in order to marry each other and start this new phase of their life.

DEADLINE: We got one good episode with Spelivia before Spencer started overthinking again. I want to talk about their conversation at the end, because it made me a bit nervous for them.

CARROLL: The reality of two people like that who are very independent souls, one on the cusp of one of the biggest careers possible, which is as an NFL player, and Liv, who was carving out her own lane or just came off spending a year and almost a half by herself, finding herself, only having to worry about really tapping into what works for her. The reality of those two people coming back together is they’re going to have to navigate that and also, this is the reality of the life that has been in the distance in front of them for forever. They’re now here. Eventually, Spencer is going to draft. They don’t know where he’s going to draft to. That has implications for the relationship he’s in. They just dealt with that while she was in London, and she had to come to terms with a lot of things. So it’s almost like she has a maturity and an experience in this area that Spencer doesn’t have yet because he hasn’t had to leave. So she’s giving him that advice in a real way and not in like a baby, coddling way but like, welcome to adulthood. We’re here, and these are decisions you’re going to have to make and live with. That’s just real life.

DEADLINE: That conversation seemed to really weigh on Spencer.

CARROLL: It did, just because it’s the reality of getting punched in the face with like, ‘We’re not kids in Kansas anymore.’ So that really landed for him and he has to really take that in and see how he navigates and moves through the rest of it, because the draft will be here sooner than he knows it. What is he going to do?

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