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All American Boss Breaks Down Season 6 Premiere

SPOILER ALERT! This post contains details from the Season 6 premiere of The CW‘s All American.

Season 6 of All American debuted Monday with an episode titled, “Things Done Changed.”

And change, they have. The season picks up just over a year after the events of Season 5, finding many of the characters in a completely different stage of life.

Spencer and Jordan are entering their junior year of college on the heels of a college bowl ban, meaning they’re finally eligible to declare for the NFL draft and also GAU is gunning for a championship run.

Olivia has just returned from London, and she’s not certain that Los Angeles feels like home to her anymore. Layla is planning her wedding while also dealing with some residual trauma from Patience’s stabbing (as is Patience, of course). Then there’s Coop, who is still pursuing pre-law while also trying to help Patience get justice.

As showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll likes to say, “the stakes don’t get higher than that.”

Okoro Carroll broke down the episode with Deadline, explained the reasoning behind the time jump, and teased what’s in store over the next 12 episodes. Read the interview below.

DEADLINE: A year and three months is quite a long time to skip over. What made you decide to make that time jump to the beginning of junior year?

NKECHI OKORO CARROLL: I’d always envisioned Spencer entering the draft somewhere around Season 6. So as I was looking at the timeline and trying to think ‘Okay, well, what story would we be telling in Season 6 if we continued the timeline and jumped into the sophomore year in college?’ And quite frankly, after everything Spencer and Jordan, from a football perspective, had endured freshman year, I didn’t know what stories we would tell that would feel high stakes enough and different enough from that versus if we leaped forward a year into their junior year and now their dream is so within their grasp. It is so close. They can now draft into NFL…We have the stakes of an NCAA championship game, because they had a bowl ban in their sophomore year. So coming off where we ended Season 5, no matter how well they did in football in Season 6 in their sophomore year, they were not going to be bowl eligible. For us, it felt like, ‘Okay, why don’t we see how that year played out for them, bringing us up to speed at the start of the season and launch them into the year where the stakes are the highest for the championship, for the NFL?’ And also, quite frankly, to launch them closer into adulthood, because they’re 21 now. We celebrate Spencer’s 21st birthday on the show. They’re not young adults anymore. They’re adult adults. So how they navigate life, the decisions they make, how they navigate through situations that feel familiar, and similar in their relationships in their careers, but now from a different more mature perspective. Do they handle things differently? Which we actually find over the course of this season that they very much do. All of that played a role in deciding to leave for the year and three months, which would put them at the start of their junior year.

DEADLINE: What about specifically have Olivia stay in London that entire time?

OKORO CARROLL: We really loved the idea, [because] Olivia has lived her life for other people. She’s a twin. So from conception, she has shared her life with someone else. She’s very close to Spencer. She’s close to her parents. She’s got the Vortex. So for her character, especially, we wanted to explore what it felt like when she stepped out on her own two feet and had to navigate the world solo and really believe in her ability to do so. As someone who grew up abroad…nothing tests those waters more than having to stay in a foreign country for an extended period of time without the safety net of your family. Based on the experiences I’d had, based on conversations we were having in the writers room, about Olivia’s character and what we wanted to explore, it actually ended up being that using that time that jump that kept her away for that length of time and bringing back the new, more mature version of her was the organic way to proceed with a story and the more exciting way for us to proceed with the story. We see the new her and, to a certain degree, the new Spencer, who’s navigated arguably one of the toughest years not being able to be bowl eligible and growing this underdog team without his partner by his side. So what does it look when those two very independent people who have had very independent years rejoin?

DEADLINE: We’ve already seen that the NFL talk is going to cause some tensions. Jordan is clearly upset that Spencer is in the spotlight again, but he doesn’t seem mad at Spencer, which is some growth for him. How are they going to handle this?

OKORO CARROLL: I love that you picked up on that immediately that he wasn’t mad at Spencer. The circumstances are frustrating him, but he’s not taking that out on Spencer. He even has that conversation with Olivia where he’s like, ‘For a second, I was a little bit jealous. And then I was like, no, I don’t want his life. I have my own.’ Jordan has grown up. We’ve seen, for lack of a better term, baby Jordan We’ve seen a Jordan that, as soon as things don’t go his way or as soon as things start going bad, he reverts to the worst version of himself who isn’t making the greatest decisions. This is a different Jordan who is acknowledging that our situation is frustrating. Welcome to the gig. You’ve got to navigate those frustrations and not take them out on your brother. Now over the course of the season, we’re going to see how much the outside world starts to put pressure on that. How much the outside influences and all of the commentary and new coaches and NFL hopes…everyone starts getting in their ears and adding that pressure from the outside as opposed to pressure that Jordan and Spencer are creating themselves from the inside and how they navigate that, which is the part that’s very different for them.

One of the aspects I’ve always loved when I talk to Spencer Paysinger, who the character Spencer James is inspired by, is when he talks about brotherhood on football teams and how you have to navigate that like someone who either in college may have been your brother, ride or die, you guys are going through life together — or even once you were already on a team in the NFL and then they get traded, or they’re playing for a different team. Now you guys are across from each other in a Super Bowl game or you guys are across from each other in a very important playoff game and you can’t think, ‘That’s my brother.’ You’re thinking, ‘How do I beat them? What do I know that’s going to help me beat them?’ Then try not to let that spill over in the outside world, off the field. So I was always so fascinated by that dynamic whenever Spencer Paysinger would talk about it. So we really wanted to incorporate that into the season with Spencer and Jordan when the stakes are so high. This is not about just another year of college football. This is about the dream. It is literally within their grasp in the eight months to the NFL Draft.

The added complication is they don’t have the unifying glue of Billy Baker to help them navigate that every other time they have. Now it’s the two of them as brothers, braving this new chapter in their manhood, braving this whole new world. And the man they both look at as father/father figure isn’t around to help them navigate that, or at least initially appears not to be around to help them navigate that.

DEADLINE: At the end of the episode, Spencer vows to try to stay in the moment and enjoy how things are going. But this is a lot of pressure for him. Specifically with the added complications of Olivia not necessarily wanting to be in LA anymore either. Are they going to be able to weather that storm together?

OKORO CARROLL: They’re both trying to stay very much in the present. The thing that anchors both of them, no matter what happens in this world, is their love for each other. We’re not playing around with that this season. Now, loving someone may not be enough, but the one thing we’re not questioning is their love for each other and their commitment to that. However, there are real life things that are coming at them, like the fact that if Spencer does draft, the chances of getting drafted and staying in LA are crazy. Olivia loves London. London is feeling more like home to her than LA is, and they don’t have NFL teams in London. So just the reality of all of that, which would have normally spun their brains and worked them into a tizzy and would have resulted in some kind of respite that ended up in a breakup because it was too difficult and complicated to navigate…the more mature, newer version of them are trying to stay anchored in the presence of their love and have a realistic, mature view. The year and three months time jump we just had is symbolic of what the reality of their lives are going to be like with Spencer in the NFL and Olivia pursuing life in Europe. So knowing those those universal truths, let’s navigate it. Let’s figure out how we navigate it. Let’s use this year as a test. Let’s figure all of this out for each other, because the one thing they’re committed to is loving each other and trying to be faithful. So that was something that we’re just really excited to explore with them this season as the more mature version of them realizing that difficulty does not mean the end of the relationship.

DEADLINE: I also am really enjoying seeing Asher and Jamie navigate life as new parents, trying to figure out how to balance their aspirations with their responsibilities. How are they going to be tested this season?

OKORO CARROLL: Jamie and Asher give me so much joy. They really do, especially the growth of Asher and the idea that like this is a kid who, for better or worse, was trying to find his worth. And as a result of how he was raised by his parents, and the one thing he wanted more than anything was stability. Somewhere to call home. Like yes, he had a house. Yes, his dad had a house. His mom had a house…but he never really had a home, and to have the kind of father-son relationship that he saw with his counterparts, that he saw with Jordan and Billy, to a certain extent, Spencer and Billy. That was something he never had. So now he’s getting that. The roles are reversed, because he’s in the dad role. Even though they’re in the beach house, he is building a home with Jamie and with his baby and with their uncles. It has brought out such a new, beautiful light in Asher. Kudos goes to Cody Christian and his phenomenal talent. And same with Miya [Horcher], who plays Jamie. The chemistry between the two of them…has just been a really beautiful storyline for us to navigate in the writers room. There’s a lot of responsibility now that you’re a parent and there’s a baby in the mix. I think they’re the epitome of lean on your village and what a village it is. Those storylines, truthfully, this season, have been such a source of joy for all of us, especially where it goes, which I’m not going to say, because I’m not going to give away any spoilers and get myself in trouble with myself. But it’s definitely one that brings me immense joy.

DEADLINE: Coop also takes the stage again in this episode. Is that something we can expect more of? How will that moment have larger repercussions?

OKORO CARROLL: Performance wise, it was a one-time thing. Truly, it was born out of her love for Patience and wanting to fix this situation. So that wasn’t something else that was hanging over Patience’s head that she destroyed. But there’s a lot of fear that has to be overcome in that moment, because [Coop] doesn’t even know she’s going to be able to do it. Part of the reason why she had to give up music was because the shooting affected her lung capacity. She can’t rap in the same way. There was so much tied up in that and she sort of let that dream go and pivoted into another direction. To have to revisit it on the spot tells you how much she loves Patience. That is the only reason why she did it, and it’s why she took that moment of pause before she even started, because she didn’t know if she would be able to execute, but it was worth trying. So from the performance perspective, it is a one time thing. From the perspective of conquering your fears and learning to put your fear in your pocket and do it anyway, especially when it comes to helping — and, in a metaphoric way, saving the people you love — that is absolutely something that Coop is going to reference and hold on to and build off of as she takes her journey this season. Both from the perspective of navigating new waters that she’s continuing to pursue pre-law and also in terms of the attempted murder on Patience, the Miko trial, which will play out over the course of this season, and the role that Coop plays in all of that.

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