“On My Block,” Netflix’s most binge-watched show of 2018, is back with its second season, a return that can only be described as a charming portrayal of young-minded teens facing real-life problems. The show self-actualizes into the framework of the show it was supposed to be in the first season — a show about soul-searching high school freshmen that struggle with childhood trauma, external pressures to act a certain way and now, how to handle all that Rollerworld loot that Jamal (Brett Gray, “Chicago P.D.”) discovered in the first season.
The new season picks up a few months after the aggravatingly nerve-wracking cliffhanger of the first season, and viewers were finally given the chance to find out the fate of our beloved Ruby (Jason Genao, “Logan”) and Olivia (Ronni Hawk, “S.W.A.T.”). Despite the first season finale’s downer ending, the show never neglects its lighthearted nature and its refreshingly comedic view on topics that are not always supposed to be funny. It’s hilariously relevant, especially in the scene where Ruby comes back to school and all of his peers want to take selfies with his scarred bullet wound. The show switches smoothly between serious political issues that come with being stuck in a bad neighborhood and ridiculous drama that all high schoolers inevitably experience at some point in their life.
The biggest improvement is that the characters find deeper realms of dimensionality than they had in their first season, especially as they go through the stages of grief from losing their new friend Olivia from gang violence. Monse (Sierra Capri, debut) interacts with the woman who she suspects is her biological mother, Cesar (Diego Tinoco, “Teen Wolf”) struggles through rejection from his brother and the constant threat of homelessness and Jamal deals with the repercussions of having a cursed fortune on his hands. Although every character sees some semblance of development in the new season, it is Ruby and Jazmine (Jessica Marie Garcia, “How to Get Away with Murder”) who are able to show the most depth. Ruby suffers through anxiety and PTSD episodes from facing a near-death experience, and we are finally able to see Jazmine’s full three-dimensionality when Ruby visits her home and sees what makes her the way she is.
We also get to see new character dynamics that we didn’t get in the first season. The most amusing of them all was Jamal and Cesar, who are forced to stay together when Cesar has nowhere else to go. Jamal’s energetic nervousness contrasted against Cesar’s cool kid attitude makes for an entertaining few episodes and brings the ride-or-die crew closer together than ever before.
While nobody can resist the addictive charm of the crew’s energy, at times the high school drama feels a bit too timely and predictable. If the showrunners could focus on diversifying the complexity of the teen drama to match the creativity of the primary storylines, then the show has a good chance of running for at least another few seasons. Despite this, it is definitely much appreciated that this show experiments with new kinds of twists and turns that don’t consist of the typical “small quiet town faces big mysterious murder” narrative. The second season fills in the gaps between the characters and their struggles that were present throughout the first season, and viewers can only hope that Netflix sees that obvious potential that the show offers and hits the “renewal” button until their hands go numb. After the chilling way season one ended, we desperately need it.