“On My Block” viewers, put together your self for fairly the curler coaster. The 10-episode first season focuses on Netflix’s new favourite demographic, younger teenagers, however the stakes go far past the everyday highschool drama. And in addition it’s very often very humorous, in a means that leaves you disoriented, uncertain if what you’re watching is a comedy or a drama, kid-appropriate or all too grownup. It’s “Sixteen Candles” meets “The Goonies” meets “Boyz within the Hood,” generally , and it’s chock filled with feels.
[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for the “On My Block” Season 1, including the finale, follow.]
“On My Block,” in keeping with Netflix, “could also be unsuitable for youngsters ages 14 and underneath,” which signifies that the characters it tracks are barely sufficiently old to observe it. Firstly of the season, greatest pals Monse (Sierra Capri), Ruby (Jason Genao), Cesar (Diego Tinoco), and Jamal (Brett Grey) are all about to start their first yr of highschool in South Central Los Angeles, a neighborhood the place listening to gunshots is an on a regular basis a part of life — to the purpose the place the children make a joke out of guessing the caliber of bullet.
There are three main threads to the primary season of “On My Block,” every of which, at first, really feel like they characterize a very totally different present. First, there’s the buried romance between Monse and Cesar, which ultimately coalesces right into a love quadrangle when Ruby’s household takes in Olivia (Ronni Hawk) after her mother and father get deported. Whereas Ruby’s emotions for her start as only a bodily response to sharing a home with a cute woman he’s not associated to, they intensify simply as Olivia and Cesar find yourself courting, as a result of Monse doesn’t need her emotions for Cesar to destroy their group dynamic and thus tries to finish issues with him.
Then there’s Jamal, whose preliminary storyline (attempting to maintain his mother and father from discovering out that he stop the soccer staff by faking quite a few accidents) will get put apart when he’s caught up in an epic “Goonies”-esque hunt for the misplaced spoils of an notorious native theft. Whereas the opposite youngsters assist him out as he searches for clues, it’s largely his obsession, and one which retains him comparatively distant from the remainder of the crew.
And eventually, there’s Cesar, who hoped to keep away from following in his brother Oscar’s (Julio Macias) mistake of becoming a member of a gang. However when Oscar will get out of jail, he will get drawn into his brother’s world, the place the specter of violence is all too actual.
It’s Cesar’s storyline that retains dragging “On My Block” away from the heightened actuality of a enjoyable teen dramedy and right into a far grimmer have a look at the world, one the place dying is a really actual risk. Positive, the informal acceptance all 4 youngsters have relating to the violence that surrounds them is plausible to a level; when a college dance is canceled as a result of somebody introduced a gun, they shrug it off prefer it was as a result of climate.
Probably the most constant aspect of the collection is its fixed acknowledgment of those characters’ ethnicity and financial standing (and its extraordinarily inclusive forged is a welcome sight). Probably the greatest traces comes from Monse, when trying to shoot down Jamal’s fascination with the lacking money: “We’re brown! Solely white youngsters discover treasure.”
However moments on the present run an emotional gamut so intense that you just’re by no means actually certain what you’re in for — take, for instance, a scene when Cesar finds himself within the backseat of a police automotive throughout a neighborhood lockdown. “You’re in massive hassle,” the officer says…after which proceeds to offer Cesar some recommendation on his difficult romantic life.
These abrupt twists and turns be sure that “On My Block” is rarely boring, however there’s one thing to be stated for just a little bit extra consistency; the emotional whiplash is sometimes robust to deal with. Endearing in his neuroses, Grey as Jamal presents up some actually pleasant comedian reduction, even when he’s performing reverse a ceramic backyard gnome, however a lot of his quest to search out the misplaced “treasure” feels out of sync with the extra grounded motion occurring elsewhere. Identical goes for a few of the supporting forged, together with the crude however fearless Jasmine (Jessica Marie Garcia) and Ruby’s dope-smoking abulita, who’re each singular in their very own respects however, as soon as once more, really feel like they belong on totally different exhibits.
The actual concern is when these disparate parts collide, particularly within the ultimate episode of the season. “Chapter 10” brings two of those main storylines collectively for an ending that tops “Romeo & Juliet,” no less than on the premise of shock worth. Olivia’s quinceañera, which Ruby has been meticulously planning for a number of episodes, is all the pieces a 15-year-old woman’s extravagant celebration ought to be… up till the second when rival gang member Latrell (Jahking Guillory) prices in with a gun, aiming for Cesar however capturing Ruby and Olivia as a substitute.
Ruby’s constructive power and good coronary heart make him simply one of many present’s standouts; proper earlier than the dancing begins on the quince, he will get an actual kiss from Olivia eventually, and as a viewer you simply wish to cheer. So minutes later, watching him actually gasp for breath within the ultimate minutes of the finale is heartbreaking, even when earlier episodes had executed loads to remind us that on this world, violence is a truth of life.
“On My Block” was created by Lauren Iungerich, who beforehand created the MTV darkish comedy “Awkward,” and Eddie Gonzalez & Jeremy Haft, who just lately wrote “All Eyez on Me.” And actually, at first the present does really feel precisely like what would possibly occur if the creator of a MTV darkish comedy and the writers of a Tupac biopic teamed up collectively to make a present.
It’s a mixture that in the first place doesn’t actually appear to click on, however by the top of the season, “On My Block” does really feel like a world unto itself, a universe with its personal guidelines and logic. And the present is actually bingeable and fascinating sufficient to make one need a second season, if solely as a result of Iungerich, Eddie Gonzalez, and Jeremy Haft earned the burden of that ending, one which’s going to hang-out us for a while.