ON MY BLOCK‘s second season excels with fantastic character and relationship development and gnomes

Netflix’s On My Block is a coming-of-age dramedy which follows a group of close friends surviving high school and the dangers of their neighbourhood. Set in a Hispanic neighbourhood in South Central Los Angeles where the dangers of gang warfare lurk around every corner, the crew must adapt and grow if they want to make it out unscathed.

In a world where fantastic coming-of-age series’ on Netflix get cancelled after one season… thinking about you Everything Sucks!On My Block has managed to survive into a second season with a third on the way. Not only is the series dramatically intense, but it’s hilarious and knows how to pull on those heart-strings with some genuinely emotional moments.

Season two continues the main plot-lines of the first season whilst also dealing with new complications and the aftermath of the last season finale. It’s a very direct and natural continuation with everything that happens in this season being directly derived from something that happened in the first season. As a result, the series flows very well, it’s all very strongly interconnected and makes sticking around for the entire season worthwhile as it’s more of a season one part two as oppose to a seperate thing. Nothing is left hanging going into this season and storylines are drastically built on in ways that weren’t inherently predictable.

However, where the first season had one or two core storylines spanning the entire season with a handful of minor character-specific arcs in the background, this season isn’t as tightly focused. There is a lot more going on this season, the main crew of characters each have multiple arcs all moving at once and in different locations. But more doesn’t necessarily mean better. It means that this season has less of a core focus and less of a singular story arc that is at the forefront from the first episode to the last. Sure there are some arcs that are front and centre more often, but the season is very busy, and as a result it’s unfocused so you never have time to wholly invest in some arcs because of the limited amount of time spent with each one. It’s not something that drastically affects the season but it holds it back from being as engaging as it could have been.

One area this season improves strongly on is in the character development and building of strong relationships. As the characters and relationships are all fantastically established in season one, this season has a lot more time to focus on furthering these characters and allowing them to grow and succeed in a neighbourhood that constantly tries to prevent that from happening. This is where the coming-of-age elements really come out and where the season is at its best. The drama, conflict, and emotion-driven responses to certain events are so strong and authentic that by the end of this season the bond felt with each of the characters only gets stronger. There really is growth and maturity seen in these young characters and that makes the whole season that much more worthwhile.

The drama and intensity of the gang-centric storylines is great, but where this series gets its charm is in the humour. Some of it is cheesy, some is very smart and witty, and some is just straight up dumb, but it all contributes to the tone and makes the show what it is. The humour is cleverly written and spread around to most of the characters so everyone gets their jabs in. Jasmine (Jessica Marie Garcia) is by far the most comedic role in here as she’s delivering quotable moment after quotable moment. Garcia, who plays Jasmine, has impeccable comedic timing and is the reason she’s a fan-favourite character. She’s not all jokes however as she does get some more serious emotional content to build with in this season which is great.

On My Block knows when jokes stop being funny and when to not repeat them and just cut them out… that is except for one quite infuriating subplot that doesn’t go away. It’s a subplot introduced in the first season and it was odd and quirky but funny in a dumb way. But it has persisted well into the second season and it holds back the show severely. It’s the whole gnome subplot with Julio and Juanita and Jamal (Brett Gray) and it’s not good. It’s like the season slows to a standstill whenever this is bought up and it just produces more eye-rolling moments if anything. It’s a bummer that it keeps making an appearance but at some point you learn to ignore it.

The performances from the main cast are what makes this show so joyful and enjoyable. The chemistry between the main group of actors including Brett Gray (Jamal), Diego Tinoco (Cesar), Jason Genao (Ruby), and Sierra Capri (Monse) is electric throughout the entire season. They all have such a strong personal connection that it really sells the fact that they’re characters are life-long friends. The back and forth between them all is thrilling to watch and the fact that they all have this strong connection makes the emotional moments that much stronger and impactful. Even the occasional presence of Jessica Marie Garcia’s Jasmine and Peggy Blow‘s Abuelita is a joy because even though they’re not always there they still feel like part of the crew. It’s a fantastic group of characters the show has built and the performances behind them only make it better.

On My Block‘s second season may not be as strong and focused in its main storylines as the first but it makes up for that by having deeper and more impactful character development throughout. The effective humour is still all there, so are the gnomes unfortunately, but it’s a minor price to pay for such a good show with great characters and even stronger performances.

7.7/10

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