The CW’s All American has continued to gain popularity and for good reason.
The show has tackled difficult topics like race and class struggles, all while still appealing to The CW’s primarily young adult audience.
But even more impressive is its portrayal of an on-screen romance that is nearly unheard of — a loving relationship between two teenage black girls.
Spencer’s best friend, Coop, is an undeniable fan favorite in the show. She’s a great friend to Spencer, but when he moves to Beverly hills for football, Coop is left to navigate their gang-ridden community alone. That is, until Patience comes along.
Throughout their relationship, both Coop and Patience have been each other’s ride-or-die, constantly looking out for each other and staying loyal to one another. When Coop gets kicked out of her parents’ home, Patience is there through it all, giving Coop a place to sleep and helping her work through her issues when it came to accepting herself and her sexuality.
And when Coop attempts to infiltrate her neighborhood gang in an effort to create peace, Patience does everything she can to keep her safe, something that Coop has been doing for Patience since they met.
Despite so much violence in the show, All American is still able to keep the relationship somewhat innocent, like so many teenage romances are in real life. Their love story is great to watch because it feels so normal. It begins with flirty banter, leads to them opening up to each other, even sharing their first kiss while Coop plays her a song, and then develops into an unbreakable bond between two people who love each other.
For teenagers in the LGBTQ community, on-screen romance is getting slightly more common, but an adolescent relationship between two black girls? Inconceivable.
Admittedly, The CW is actually one of the best networks when it comes to depicting diverse teenage stories on-screen, ranking as the most inclusive broadcast network according to a 2018 GLAAD report. But even with all the strides being made, the reality is that LGBTQ representation is still seriously lacking. Across network TV, only 8.8% of series regulars are LGBTQ.
Bre-Z, who plays Coop, said that she isn’t even satisfied with the portrayal of LGBTQ characters that do make it on TV.
“I hate the way lesbians and the LGBTQ+ community, in general, have been depicted in film forever. It’s never been 100 % accurate or realistic. It’s always a sex-crazed monster. It’s never a normal life and I just so happen to date girls. They make such a spectacle out of it, and they don’t do that with heterosexual relationships.”
Representation for the LGBTQ community is undoubtedly becoming better and better, but for the coming-of-age black girls struggling with their sexuality, television has a long way to go. For now, though, celebrating Crenshaw’s darling duo, Coop and Patience, is an excellent place to start.