on my block 4/4

Netflix has become a powerhouse of entertainment. They are constantly pumping out new, original shows and movies on their streaming platform. This doesn’t even include the content that they host the streaming rights to as well. Among all this abundance of media, many entertaining shows can get lost in the mix. One show in particular that I haven’t heard much buzz on is “On My Block,” an original Netflix show centered around teens.

To be honest, I never watched teen dramas myself. My classmates would talk about “Degrassi,” “One Tree Hill” and “Gilmore Girls” every so often, and I usually didn’t watch teen shows unless they were produced by Disney. I missed my opportunity growing up to watch teen dramas and I have little interest in viewing them now. So, “On My Block” is a little out of my usual viewing choices. However, this show is a delight and it seems as though nobody is really talking about it.

“On My Block” centers on four teenagers living in a rough neighborhood located in south central Los Angeles. We follow their lives and struggles as they enter high school as freshmen and try to survive their neighborhood. It really is a coming-of-age story as we see these teens persevere through their problems and grow up along the way.

The quartet are distinct enough from each other that they all feel pretty unique. There’s Monse, the brave, stubborn but caring one of the group. Cesar, the unofficial leader of the group who acts as a sort of guide for the others. Ruby, whose real name is Ruben, is an aloof genius that often thinks way too much before acting. And then there’s Jamal, the nervous chatterbox of the group who cannot keep a secret. There’s also a fifth character that frequents the show later, Olivia, who becomes ingrained in the posse.

There is plenty of drama and comedy to go around amongst the squad and outside of them. Three of the characters get into a complicated love triangle. A treasure hunt ensues after another character becomes obsessed with it. There is a subplot involving another character’s lost mother. And then there’s sentient garden gnomes. It’s a wild ride and you become attached to the main characters, wanting to see what the next chapter of their life is.

The show isn’t afraid to cover heavy topics either. There are themes of sexuality, gang violence and racism. But it balances these elements with its comedy well. No joke feels like it’s being made at the expense of a lesson being covered. Obviously, the show is scripted, but some segments do feel as though they were just lifted out of an actual teenager’s life.

The neighborhood where the group lives is also primarily composed of Latino and Black communities. The main characters are also minorities themselves. Being both a Latino and an advocate for representation in television and film myself, this show is a breath of fresh air. Seeing characters that look like me and my family on screen and them not just being stereotyped constantly is a nice, and much needed, change of pace.

The show currently has two seasons up on Netflix. The first includes a sparse, but cool, eight episodes. The second season just dropped on the platform on March 29. I won’t spoil anything, but the first season ends on quite an unexpected cliffhanger that’ll make viewers want to continue into the next season. I cannot recommend the show enough and highly suggest supporting it. So, take a break from rewatching “The Office” for the fifth time and watch something new.

 

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