Written by Clarissa Lam, Student Board Member of Camp Reel Stories
“On My Block” takes place in Freeridge, California where gun shots and gangs are encroaching on the lives of four teenagers: Monse, Cesar, Jamal, and Ruby. Although the characters deal with gangs, violence, deportation, racism, and other serious topics, the show is able to continue a comedic tone throughout the majority of the show, allowing the issues to impact the characters and audience without drowning them in them, showing that even as tragedy strikes, life goes on.
Full disclosure: I’ll admit the acting is poor in many places and there are plenty of cliches thrown into the plot, at times the show is even reminiscent of a telenovela, but you still need to see Netflix’s “On My Block”. Here’s why.
The big thing about this show is that it is co-created, directed, and written by a woman, one of the main characters is a female, and there are only two episodes with any white characters that speak or have names. I’m not saying it is bad to have white characters at all. This show is simply a rarity with a colorful cast you won’t find on any other show. (Plus it passes the Bechdel Test).
The four main characters of this show are vibrant and strong, the kind of characters that demand attention. Although they are friends with interlocking storylines, each character has a drive and goal completely unique to them.
Jamal’s storyline is comparable to the Goonies as he searches for the neighborhood’s possible buried treasure. Cesar is jumped into a gang at the start of high school and must find a way to either get out or find a way to survive within the gang without losing himself, his friends, and his life. Monse serves as the glue for the group, continually trying to keep them together even as she sacrifices her relationship with another character. Ruby simply wants two things: respect, and for the love of his life to love him back.
With a unique storyline paired with unique characters, the final key to the success of the entire show is simply it’s soundtrack. The show is complimented by an incredible playlist, good enough that I downloaded a few songs off Spotify after finishing the season.
With season two coming next spring, the whole show only has ten episodes, each only 20-30 minutes long. This is a quick show to catch up on, and trust me, the end of season one will leave you begging for season two. I know I am.