On My Block (2018) Season 1 TV Review

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Summary: A coming-of-age comedy about four bright, street-savvy friends navigating their way through high school in the gritty inner city of South Central Los Angeles.
Pros:
Cast and Characters:
  • Sierra Capri as Monse Finnie a headstrong, bossy tomboy of Afro-Latino descent who is the leader of her friend group. Raised by her single father, she is star-crossed lovers with one of her best friends, Cesar. In Season 1, she makes an attempt to connect with a woman she believes is her birth mother. Throughout the show, Monse seems to be the “leader” of the group, in that she’s the one everyone might look to. She’s bossy so she kind of just takes that role on as well but it works. She also seems to be a bit hot-tempered, in that she has to keep her anger in check because she seems like she’ll be ready to fight you if she has to. She also is holding a big secret in that she has experienced her sexual awakening and she’s a bit on the passionate side, it’s almost uncomfortable sometimes lol. I like Monse, she feels like a teenage girl. I think Sierra does well with balancing Monse’s maturity but also her immaturity because she can go from 0-100 real quick and it’s just too much.
  • Jason Genao as Ruby Martinez. He is a smart-aleck math whiz of Mexican descent often serving as the group’s conscience. I love Ruby, he’s probably my favorite. He’s the shortest of the group but he has a bit personality and a big heart. Ruby cares about his appearance, he wants to always make sure he looks good. He gets a little jealous of Cesar who is just cute without even trying. He’s very organized and a bit methodical in how he does things, but he does it for his friends. He spends like two episodes trying to throw a quinceanera for Olivia because he wanted it to be special for her. That’s so sweet. He is a ladies’ man but he’s awkward too so it doesn’t always work out. Jason Genao is just so great, I feel like Ruby could be very annoying but Jason manages to keep that from happening. Instead, I love him. Plus, he loves to talk, he thinks he can talk his way out of things and sometimes he makes things much worse. I love it. Plus, his little quirks that Jason does for him, like the way he’ll cut his eyes at something. AH! I just love him. 
  • Brett Gray as Jamal Turner. He is the nerd of the group and African-American. He believes that there is a hidden treasure scheme surrounding Roller World. Jamal reminds me of a conspiracy theorist. Someone who just believes all kinds of crazy things, and who is even willing to go searching for it. He also manages to really dedicate himself to things that would be so much easier if he would just speak up, but ya know, teenagers are dramatic lol. His parents love football, his father used to play and he wants the same thing for Jamal but Jamal isn’t really into sports. He’s definitely the most awkward of the group, he is clumsy but he’s also really funny. The entire subplot with Roller World is just hilarious, especially all of the scenes with the gnomes. He can’t keep a secret so there is a great scene that deals with that. Brett Gray was great. He’s really funny and since he has a lot of scenes with Ruby, they really work well together.
  • Diego Tinoco as Cesar Diaz. Cesar is that kid who you often ask, “how is he friends with the others?” because he just seems too cool for them. He’s handsome, he’s suave but he’s also very intelligent which makes sense as to why he manages to find solace with the others. His older brother gets released from prison which puts pressure on Cesar, who is forced into gang life. A lot of his story, is him trying to find the balance between being in the gang but trying to live a normal teenage life with his friends and his new love interest. Things get a little rocky and he definitely relishes in some of the chaos. He doesn’t like it per se, but it’s like easy for him to exploit it. He’s super cute lol, and I very much enjoy watching him ruffle some feathers. However, he’s also a tragic character because he’s forced into something he doesn’t want and it hurts him but he does it. Diego Tinoco is great as Cesar, he’s likable even when you don’t want to like him. He has great chemistry with his love interest and their moments together can be sweet, and sometimes they can be… dramatic.
  • Ronni Hawk as Olivia. She is a friend of Ruby’s family, they take her in after her parents get deported back to Mexico and she becomes a member of the friend group. Olivia is like the pretty girl, she’s nice, she’s fashionable and she fits right in with the friend group. She ends up developing a crush on Cesar which in ways, causes some problems within the group, but nothing that she does intentionally. I like Olivia fine, she’s one of those characters that I could take or leave. If she wasn’t around, that’s cool but since she was, that’s cool too. I didn’t mind Ronni Hawk, I don’t know anything about her, but I thought her Spanish was terrible.
The Story is Mature. At its core it’s about friendship. Our group is getting ready to go off to high school and Monse comes back from summer camp to find that Cesar has made up a rumor about her and has left the group. She is determined to find out what happened, so most of the first episode is her reuniting with Ruby and Jamal and trying to find out what she missed over the summer. She learns that Cesar was forced into the same gang as his older brother who was released from jail that summer. So, the season focuses on them trying to find a way to rescue their friend, while trying to navigate high school, friendships, family and romance. It’s all handled really well, while I do think the school aspect does get a swept under the rug compared to everything else but I understand that that’s not as important as everything else.
The Humor. Being that it’s set in current time, a lot of the dialogue is just funny because I think the way teens talk is already hilarious. So put them in a show like this, where you have characters like Ruby comparing himself to a Ruben sandwich (since his full name is Ruben lol). It’s hilarious. Plus, characters are awkward and they get into situations that teens shouldn’t be in, but they find themselves in so they have hilarious reactions. Plus, Peggy Blow as Ruby’s abuela steals a lot of the scenes she’s in. Jamal has some great scenes with his parents and this creepy dude and his shop with a bunch of gnomes. Oh man, I was cracking up. Expect to laugh throughout the show.
The Friendship. I think the chemistry between the four main kids is really strong and they feel like they’ve been friends for a long time. They’re all different in ways, but they just fit together. When Olivia is introduced, she fits in with them as well. I also believe some of the drama they have, in a friend group, things are bound to happen and friendships will be strained, that’s just how life is.
Very Relatable. The show is very relatable in how the kids deal with their problems. I don’t think problems get solved and that’s that. A lot of happens and it has long-term consequences or it’s no solved so quickly. That’s life and I like the fact that the show doesn’t gloss over the problems. It feels authentic which I think a lot of teen dramas miss out on these days, I may enjoy them, but I know it’s fiction. On My Block feels real. All of the characters are relatable in that kids get older and experience physical body changes, pressure from parents, from friends, romance, gangs, family, it’s all very real. I also like the fact that they just live day by day. Yeah, they have plans for what they want to do tomorrow, but that’s not what they focus on. It’s all about that moment.
Mature Storylines. Even though these characters are like 14-15, their reality is legit. They live in an inner city Los Angeles neighborhood and they witness a lot. There are times where they hear gunshots and they’re scared about it but then to lighten the mood, they try to guess what kind of gun it was. There are gangs, violence, drugs, and that’s just their environment and the show doesn’t make a big deal about it, it just is. The sexual moments of the show are also handled well. They are minors so it can be a little squick but that’s legit too, teenagers do have sex, so don’t be afraid to talk about it. Also, the stuff about families and how Monse does a little research to find her mom, it’s really emotional and I felt that. It’s all handled very well and with maturity.
Cons:
The Acting. It wasn’t all bad, nor was it always bad but sometimes in certain moments or episodes, the acting got really over the top, or like they were trying to hard. I think this is mostly notable in Sierra Capri. Her character seems like the defacto leader of their little group and whenever she got invested in something, she liked to raise her voice or yell and it just was too much. Or certain expressions she would make. It was just weird. I even though that Brett Gray sometimes did too much but his character was kind of the “over the top” character in ways too so it wasn’t as noticeable.
Overall, I really really liked On the Block. I think the first season is worth the watch and I am super excited for season two. Every bit of this show feels measured, and carefully planned out. Nothing was wasted. The 10 episodes we got, showed so much but at the same time, left a lot to explored. It’s such a strong show right out the gate that I literally have no complaints other than the acting. I think all of our main actors are great in their roles, they have great chemistry with each other, and they bounce off of each other so well that I believe they’ve known each other for years. It’s really funny as well, none of the humor feels forced, it almost feels like the young actors ad libbed and the director just let them. It’s so organic. I love how it just feels like I’m watching the lives of real teenagers instead of a tv show. It’s very relatable, the mature storylines really help the show from veering into a dramatic teeny bopper show. My only complaint is that not all of the acting is the best, mostly from Sierra Capri, she’s a bit inconsistent but her best scene was definitely the one when she was babysitting. Otherwise the show is great and definitely worth the watch!
Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen On My Block? If not, watch it. It’s on Netflix. If you have, let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Don’t forget to like and follow this blog for more reviews!
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