For college students, high school is mostly out of sight and out of mind. Present day situations call for present day attention, and that usually means putting aside irrelevant memories and experiences from years past. But they’re still there—and On My Block captures both the good and the bad that comes from looking back on what we all experienced.
Released on Netflix one year ago, On My Block follows a group of four friends and their navigation through their first year of high school as they face everything from first kisses to racial discrimination. And a little bit of homicide. The first season stars Diego Tinoco, Brett Gray, Jason Genao, and Sierra Capri. For all four, On My Block has been an introductory step into acting. Wait, not exactly—Tinoco appeared in Teen Wolf in 2011, Genao in Logan, and Gray in Law and Order: Special Victims Unit—but all four faces are refreshingly young and charming to watch.
In the year since the first season, the show won the Teen Choice Award for Choice Breakout TV Show and racked up a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes—it’s certified fresh. As a coming–of–age Netflix Original, On My Block isn't much of a trailblazer and is also weighed down by the trappings of that “Netflix Original feel” (term coined right here, right now), where entertainment seems to be pushed out for the sake of adding content to the streaming service rather than for any other potentially meaningful purpose. Still, the show can more than hold its own in the sea of both old and new Netflix offerings.
Coming–of–age stories come a dime a dozen, but On My Block doesn’t succumb to the overly–cheesy baggage of the genre. The show is a story with foundations in underrepresented, swept–under–the-table experiences. Monse (Capri) deals with the lasting impressions of growing up without a mother, Cesar (Tinoco) is wrapped up in gang–related violence, and everyone deals with their changing relationship dynamics differently when rumors begin to fly and communication becomes difficult. Although awkward and almost forced at times (questionable zoom–ins, dramatic text message bubbles), On My Block is largely heartfelt and candid.
Several nights ago, I told a friend that high school felt like it happened eons ago. Post–high school, it’s easy to be caught up in exploring the world that opens up after leaving. Everyone nurses a different high school experience, but some things are largely universal—petty fights among friends, a range of conceivable family problems, and insecurities about fitting in. It’s easy to replace old problems with newer ones, like pressing adult responsibilities, and while ruminating too much on the past may not be healthy either, On My Block's first season is only 10 episodes long and easily binge–able. Season two is slated for release on Netflix on March 29.
As for expectations? Season Two appears to follow the same quartet in their second year of high school, with each of them continuing to face newer, more personalized rollercoasters of emotion through life. So with high hopes, here’s to a polished, emotional sophomore Netflix effort.