The “All American” universe expanded with the debut of spinoff “All American: Homecoming” on Monday night, which follows Simone (Geffri Maya) as she attempts to launch her tennis career at college in Atlanta.
While telling a story about college life is very different than that of high school, the drama remains — as does the romance. At the end of Simone’s time on “All American,” she left Beverly Hills High and her boyfriend, Jordan (Michael Evans Behling), behind. They decided to stay together and try a long-distance relationship, despite the pressures they’re both facing. At Bringston, Simone has an instant connection with Damon (Peyton Alex Smith) — so, what does that mean for her and Jordan?
“You’re 18, you’re in college, and 18-year-olds are messy. College kids are messy. It’s just that — life is messy. The chemistry is definitely there. They’re both exceptional actors is such a dream to work with and have so much natural chemistry,” teases showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll about what’s to come between Simone and Damon.
The writer notes that for years, she’s had conversations with her friends about different types of emotional relationships, friendships and boundaries. Those discussions continue in the writers rooms for both series.
“Is emotional cheating a thing and is that a thing you have to apologize for? Or is that just a really good friend who’s there for you?” she asks. “It’s not going to be what people are going to expect in terms of the nature of the love triangle that exists across these two shows, with both Simone on ‘Homecoming’ and with Jordan on ‘All American.’ It just gets a little messy, but at the heart, what’s undeniable is the love the Jordan and Simone have for each other.”
Back in Beverly Hills, Jordan seems to have a growing connection with Layla (Greta Onieogou), with whom he’s been friends for years. That storyline will also be analyzed in a bit of a different way.
“What we’re exploring is what friendship between members of the opposite sex look like and when that starts to get complicated. Sometimes that happens and you don’t even notice that it’s getting complicated,” Carroll tells Variety. “We’re watching the development of a best friendship that is born out of what both of them had gone through. Layla put up these walls because she doesn’t trust people anymore, with the exception of Jordan, who just bullied his way into their friendship. A beautiful friendship has been born, one that is meaningful and deep. That’s what we’re really exploring with them, but again, they’re also 18 and super attractive people and life is messy. What all of them take seriously is that their friend group is extraordinary. Their friend group is their family.”
Throughout both shows, which will follow the same timeline and have a few natural crossovers, the theme of how one relationship affects a larger friend group will continue.
“We talk about it in our writers’ room, the boundaries around friendships,” Carroll says. “When are friendships too close? When are friendships too close that it’s disrespectful to the relationship you’re in? When is it just a friendship?”
“All American” airs on The CW Mondays at 8 p.m. ET, followed by “All American: Homecoming” at 9 p.m. ET.