Editor’s Note: The following review contains major spoilers of On My Block’s second season.
The hit Netflix original show, On My Block, made its long-awaited return to the screen on March 29 with the release of its sophomore season. Following the cliffhanger of the last season, the show covered many important topics in the course of its ten-episode season including post-traumatic stress, gun violence, differences in class and privilege, especially in accordance to race, and the dismissal of toxic masculinity in the emphasis of platonic relationships.
We last saw the main characters of the fictional inner city of Freeridge, California at a quinceanera for Olivia (Ronni Hawk), just following the sequence of Cesar (Diego Tinoco) sparing the life of his gang enemy, Latrell. The two were enjoying the party alongside friends Monse (Sierra Capri) and Ruby (Jason Genao) when Latrell had missed his aimed gunshot from Cesar and hit both Ruby and Olivia. At the same time, Jamal (Brett Gray) had been discovering $200,000 of hidden money from a previous gang crime.
Needless to say, we were left with an abundance of questions, all of which were answered (thankfully) in this second season.
Perhaps the most dominant plot point was the death of Olivia, a beloved main character who Ruby had fallen in love with. She created a rift in Monse and Cesar’s relationship after coming to Freeridge to stay with her mother’s friend (Ruby’s mom) when her parents were deported. This left her friends in complete distress, despite it just being one of many deaths by gun violence in their community. Ruby, who had been shot as well, lived with a survivor’s guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder, consistently reliving the shooting when met with certain triggers. It, essentially, changed the way Jamal, Ruby, Monse and Cesar looked at the fragility of their lives.
Because of this, Monse made a conscious decision to relocate (though short-lived) to Brentwood, where she lived with her newly-discovered mother in a beautiful house in a safe neighborhood. This brought up ideas of privilege, found in her other two white friends in comparison to the people of Freeridge, who are predominantly of color. Monse is constantly worried that she will get in trouble for doing risky things, as she would in Freeridge, but realized that in Brentwood, a richer area, there is much more privilege and that people worry of much less important things. This leads Monse, after a heavy inner-conflict, to move back to Freeridge for love and pride of her community in spite of its flaws.
One of its main flaws is the presence of gangs in their community. The two competing groups, the Santos and the Prophet$, devise a series of problems for the main characters and their home of Freeridge. However, the show offers an interesting point-of-view of the gang situation, giving more of a background to the last season as to why the gangs began and the reason for their rivalry. They also provided an essential and commonly missing background as to why people, like Cesar and his brother Spooky become involved in gang crimes with no other choice, once again expanding conversation through the show.
Yet, with all of this going on, the writers of On My Block made a point to do anything but glorify and romanticize gun violence and privilege in this second season. Despite how much we love our ships, there was a heavy focus on platonic relationships, as the characters found support in each other for the hardships of their lives. Toxic masculinity could not be traced, as even the male characters shared emotional moments between brothers and best friends.
Once again, On My Block covered poignant and significant topics through art and entertainment. The all-POC cast precisely executed the aftermath of trauma, emphasizing just how important community and love is when things go wrong, all while commenting on controversial and necessary discussions. It is a show that everyone should watch, not only for its funny moments and carefully-cultivated characters but because of its message of representation and overcoming adversity.
Photo: Netflix via Seventeen