“On My Block” Tackles Real Life Issues Through Entertainment

Nyimah Jackson Staff Writer

“On My Block” is a Netflix Original Series that premiered March 2018 and followed four teenagers growing up in the rough neighborhood of Freeridge while balancing school, relationships, gangs, and family. The second season premiered March 29, and picked up with the aftermath of Ruby Martinez, played by Jason Genao, and Olivia, played by Ronni Hawk, being shot while celebrating Olivia’s quinceanera as a result of gang violence.

Season two began on New Year’s Eve where it is revealed that Olivia did not survive the shooting. Just in the first episode, the issue of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is touched upon. Ruby is triggered by the sound of fireworks exploding in the air, which brings back memories of the shooting that nearly killed him. Throughout the season, Ruby struggles to get back to his regular routine and move on from the shooting. He is distanced from his friends and family at times, as he copes with his brush with death and the loss of his love interest. He finds comfort in Jasmine (Jessica Marie Garcia), the blunt, loud mouthed, third-wheel of the friend group who was formerly rejected by the trio last season but has since wormed her way into their clique with her snappy remarks and bold attitude.

Last season, Jamal Turner (Brett Gray) spent his time searching the city for the Roller World money that was said to be hidden somewhere in the city by deceased members of the Santos gang. Now that Jamal has found the money in the football field of his school, he must figure out how to keep it safe and how to spend it with his friends. That proves to be a challenge once Jamal becomes paranoid that someone has discovered his secret and is plotting to take the money from him. He enlists the help of his friends and Ruby’s grandmother, Abuelita (Peggy Blow), to help launder the money so they can spend it without raising any red flags.

Debuting as an official couple, Monse Finnie (Sierra Capri) and Cesar Diaz (Diego Tinoco) strive to keep their relationship afloat while fighting their own battles. Monse finally learns that the woman she tracked down on Halloween is in fact her mother, who abandoned her and her father when she was an infant. After the big reveal, Monse and her mother spend time learning more about each other, causing Monse to begin shedding her Freeridge roots and trade them in for a more suburban lifestyle. While contemplating whether she should stay with her mother or go back to Freeridge, she comes face to face with the issue of colorism when she learns that the reason her mother abandoned her was because she shared the same brown skin tone as her father, as opposed to her fair skinned mother. Her story conveys what it’s like to be a mixed raced child, unsure of her identity or where she belongs.

Cesar spends the season bouncing from house to house, searching for a place to live after his brother kicked him out for not following through on the murder of Latrell, a rival gang member from the Prophets gang. Once his options have run out, Cesar decides to confront Latrell in an attempt to finish the job and kill him once and for all (something he failed to do last season) but is nearly killed himself when things do not go as planned. With no money, no home and a target on his back, he has to hide in the shadows and contemplate whether he should stay in Freeridge with his friends or run away and keep them safe.

The season ends with Monse planning to leave Freeridge and attend an all-girls boarding school, per her father’s demands to get out of the dangerous city, but her plans are cut short when she, along with Ruby, Cesar and Jamal, are kidnapped and thrown into the back of a van. “On My Block” is a comedic coming-of-age story that tackles real life issues while navigating what it’s like to grow up in a struggling neighborhood surrounded by gang violence, broken homes, and poor finances.

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