After its cliffhanger ending last year, Netflix’s latest coming-of-age series On My Block returns with another 10 episodes. With a continued balance of comedy and drama, On My Block does a good job emotionally juggling its characters whilst delivering enough plot development through its 10 episodes to keep things from stagnating. Having already established the characters in the first season, On My Block adds an extra dimension to each of the protagonists, delivering a highly enjoyable second season.
The story begins with the residents of the neighbourhood still reeling from the events last year. With Ruby and Olivia both shot by Prophet$ member Latrelle, the episode begins with a brief montage segment for our characters. It turns out Ruby survived the shooting but Olivia sadly did not. Contrasting the mood most of the neighbourhood are engulfed by is Jamal who found the money last season and deliberates over what to do with it. Meanwhile, Cesar is overwhelmed by guilt following his part to play in the shooting.
It’s here where the story picks up for the second season, grappling with strong themes around acceptance, dealing with grief and friendship. Projecting these themes are the various main characters whom we follow, each with their own subplot alongside the overarching story about the money and the ongoing gang war. Convinced he’s cursed, Jamal goes out of his way to try to lift the curse while Monse grapples with the idea of her Mum coming back into the picture.
Things go from bad to worse for Cesar as he finds himself kicked out of the Santos Gang and shunned by his own brother, Oscar. Sleeping rough and moving from place to place, this low point in his life ultimately leads to his redemption later on down the line in the season’s finale. Before we can get there, he has his own relationship problems with Monse to deal with.
The final character to round out the quartet is Ruby, who arguably has the best character development and emotional peaks this year. In dealing with the various stages of his grief, he finds solace in an unlikely source, Jasmine. The two share some pretty touching moments together too before he comes out the other side stronger and more resilient than before.
Stylistically, On My Block flirts the line between comedy and drama pretty well although much like the first season, Jamal’s incredulous, over-the-top slapstick does feel a little jarring next to the deeper character drama experienced this year. Late on there’s some really nice camera work too, with one rotating shot showing the characters working together with the money doing an excellent job showing this off. The lighting is generally good too, especially the neon-lit night scenes here which really does well to juxtapose the ugliness of the gang war.
It is worth noting too that this season does end on a cliffhanger. Although it’s not quite as shocking as the first season’s shooting, it’s still a pretty surprising turn of events that leaves the door wide open for a third season. With enough plot threads resolved and a good dose of comedy and drama throughout, On My Block does well to top its first season, delivering another solid 10 episodes of entertainment. It’s not perfect but when it comes to realistic, coming-of-age dramas, you can’t go wrong with On My Block.
Verdict - 7.5/10