A new storyline within the hit television show All American will focus on a truly divisive issue in the United States: police brutality. Detailing the fictional tale of Tamika Pratt, a young Black woman killed by police when she was found sleeping in her car, show star Olivia (Samantha Logan) feels compelled to firmly align herself with the Black Lives Matter movement.
As the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin comes to a close and plenty of concerned citizens still voice their outrage with current policing practices in real life, the new story arch in All American seems more timely than ever. However, the idea was actually pitched long before George Floyd's death.
What is the story of Tamika Pratt on All American, and how is the show using it to discuss police brutality as a whole? Here's a breakdown of it all.
The story of Tamika Pratt was formulated long before the nation rallied behind George Floyd.
Tamika Pratt's story of being gunned down while simply sleeping in her own car is a general reflection by All American writers on the current state of social injustice in the U.S. Although the show is not the first to address systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd's death, it has made social justice for Black youth a prominent focal point of its existence since the very beginning.
Showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll told TV Guide that she pitched the Tamika storyline in March 2020, long before large swathes of the nation rallied behind George Floyd. Furthermore, she said that at the time, she hoped that Tamika's story would air as a conscious reflection of how things once were, not a reminder of how they still are.
"I don't know how I feel truthfully because these have been very difficult episodes to write, and to shoot, and to be immersed in and editing, while also being a parent of young Black kids, while also sort of sitting and watching what was happening with the Derek Chauvin trial, and then the Daunte Wright murder, and now Ma'Khia," she said to the publication, referencing the real people who have been victims to police brutality recently.
"It's one of those things where we pride ourselves on the show being an authentic portrayal of what youth, and especially Black youth, in America go through — both the trials and tribulations and the joy — but this is kind of one of those times where you almost wish it had felt outdated," she added.
Olivia's allure to the Black Lives Matter cause derives from the fact that she felt a personal connection to Tamika's death. In a recent episode, she drove while intoxicated and got off without a hitch since she is a white district attorney's daughter. Her privilege in that situation made her reflect greatly on what happened to Tamika and drove her to take up a stand in the young woman's defense.
"The fact that [Olivia] is a DA's daughter, and not only that, she's a white DA's daughter. It just felt like we had a very unique, very personal lens to be able to tell a story like this in a way that was very personal to our characters, especially in the Baker family," Nkechi said of how it all came to be. Now, as the season continues to develop, Olivia is posed to continue to take a central role in the fights for equality.
Catch new episodes of All American on Mondays at 8 p.m. EST on the CW.
If you are looking for ways to donate your time or money to Black Lives Matter and other antiracist organizations, we have created a list of resources to get you started.