Season 2 of On My Block loses a bit of the luster the first season had but remains a loveable staple of the Netflix library.
|Creator(s)||Lauren Iungerich, Eddie Gonzalez, Jeremy Haft|
|Genre(s)||Comedy, Drama, Urban|
|Good If You Like||Urban Drama Featuring Teenagers|
A Bit Of Hijinks
A Balance Between The Difficult Side Of Living In The Hood And The Personalities Which Make It Not Seem So Bad Sometimes
|Isn’t For You If You||Are Looking For A Show Which Digs Deep Into Racial Or Socio-Economic Issues|
|Jasmine||Jessica Marie Garcia|
|Jamal’s Mom||Raushanah Simmons|
|Marisol||Peggy Ann Blow|
In season 2, with Cesar released from The Santos, it means he is in even more danger than ever. At least, after Ruby’s mouth ends the truce with The Prophet$ made after he got shot and Olivia died. Thus leading to, like in season 1, everyone trying to protect Cesar. Something a bit easier to do since, with Jamal finding the Rollerworld money, they do have cash. Mind you, marked cash, that the kids have to figure out how to clean, but at least as Cesar bounces around from place to place, there is far more hope than season 1.
But, outside of Cesar, there are other things focused on. Monse and Julia interact more, and Monse starts to come into her own. Also, her relationship with Cesar blossoms as they go through stuff together and when it comes to the other boys? Well, Jamal still is the weird, carefree, Black boy who doesn’t necessarily fit in with his friends but is still part of the crew. As for Ruby? Well, besides survivor’s remorse, and trying to find himself after the trauma of Olivia’s death and being shot, he makes a new friend. Well, an old friend, Jasmine, becomes a more prominent role in his life and we get to know her beyond her usually ratchet persona.
Leading to another season in which these kids grow, partly out of fear, a little bit due to rejection, yet find themselves stronger than ever by the season finale.
The Time Jumps
Multiple times in the season there are weeks, if not a whole month, sped through. In doing so, it helped keep the pace of the show and made it so the show could start after Ruby got out of the hospital or gave room for events to really settle and us see the regret of some characters. Though, at times, it also just reminded you that there are sometimes a lot of dull days and the hood isn’t an action movie where every other minute something big happens.
For season 1, Jasmine was a clown. She was this ghetto girl who wanted to belong and find love and seemed desperate for both. In season 2, she is allowed to evolve and shows that her antics are a mix of her accepting and loving herself, as well as a hook. For as she dotes on Ruby, genuinely befriends him, we see another side to her. One which is calmer than we’d ever expected, and also shows us not just emotional intelligence, but perhaps something beyond which was not expected.
Which in itself addresses the problem and perception of some viewers. The idea that just because Jasmine seems ghetto, ratchet, what have you, it doesn’t mean there isn’t anything deeper. Yet, as shown when Ruby learns her truth, it is just she doesn’t know anyone to go to deeper places with since most keep her at arm’s length. Thus not allowing them to see past her antics which seemingly are just meant to show, despite her home life, she isn’t fun, depressed, or a downer.
A Taste Of The Other Side
One of the interesting things season 2 pushes, that was touched upon in season 1, is the idea of who has potential, or a future, and who doesn’t. When it came to Cesar and Oscar, it was assumed their fates would be tied to the Santos as Ruby would likely go to college like Mario, as well as Monse going to college elsewhere. But, in this season, we’re allowed to peer more into how the other half lives as Oscar’s life is taken into account.
In season 1, it was revealed he had plans to get out of the hood and make a life for himself, but he had to take care of Cesar. Thus leading to his life in the Santos and a reminder that gang life isn’t necessarily a prime choice for anyone. Between family relations and protection, it is a necessary evil. One which damns you for life since now Oscar can’t really go legit. With two strikes, Walmart won’t hire him, and he is put into a state where the possibility of recidivism is high. All the while, you got kids like Ruby who don’t get it and choose to remain ignorant even in terms of the truce and who is trying to keep the neighborhood safe.
With Olivia’s death, if not death in general, we witness characters handle what goes on in their lives in various ways. We have those like Ruby who may end up permanently traumatized with certain songs or noises triggering old memories. Thus leaving them feeling like life may never be the same. Then there are those like Monse who found a way to process and either suppress what has happened around them or just move on. Lastly, there are those like Chivo who have experienced so much death in their lives that they seemingly have snapped. Yet, through gnomes representing his dead homies, he has found a means to deal with what he has experienced and figure a way to cope.
Vulnerable Men & Boys
Seeing not only the boys but the men be emotional and vulnerable felt so important. Especially since it wasn’t only when violence was threatened but when Cesar was having issues with Monse, when Ruby found a kindred spirit in Jasmine and things of that nature. Heck, Oscar feeling conflicted between his loyalty to the Santos and the only family he has led to moments when you could see an inner struggle.
I’d even through in Dwayne and Monty feeling a bit helpless or questioning what they could do for Cesar into play. For while both are aware the boy is marked, not knowing how to help a kid who has been a friend to their child for years must be hard. After all, at this point, Cesar likely felt like a son to them.
Care Free Jamal & The Support of Marisol
With it being a year and a week since season 1 premiered, it was easy to forget that Jamal is the type of character who either grows on you or, like his friends, once you get him, he comes off less weird and annoying. However, with so much time passing I felt that initial annoyance all over again since the show didn’t have Jamal interacting with Marisol much. That crafted a problem since no one really got or accepted Jamal but her.
Yet, in time, they interacted more, and you are reminded that, thanks to a certain amount of privilege, Jamal has access to being a carefree Black boy. Mind you, one not understood by his parents, barely by his friends, but he still finds a way to be wholly himself and excel regardless. Throw in support from Marisol, who plays into Jamal’s eccentricities, since she is a bit weird herself, and you get to see the boy go from being crazed like Jasmine to make himself heard, to getting to really enjoy life at times. Especially in terms of not fighting for his position in the crew as his friends grow up just a little bit faster than he does.
Monse Putting Herself First
Speaking of growing up and fighting for their position, since we’ve met Monse she has done what many women on the show do: Support the guys in her life while establishing herself as a boss. We see the same from Geny and Jasmine in a way. Yet, one thing we don’t see from Geny but see a lot from Jasmine and Monse is this weird mix of asserting themselves yet seemingly not putting themselves first.
Take Jasmine, whether it is Ruby basically using and abusing her or Monse bending over backwards for Cesar, we see both young ladies go beyond to protect and help the men in their life. But, Monse eventually comes to the point of realizing all the sacrifices, her stressing her brain for solutions to other people’s problems, it doesn’t serve her. Leading to her eventually, after some inspiration from Jasmine, realizing she needs to change her life and make it so she is the center of her universe rather than making someone else the sun. A powerful statement, also inspired by Jasmine, which could have changed everything.
Amber & Mario
There is a need to question the point of the Amber and Mario scenario. Was it just to give Geny more reason to be around? Show how Mario wasn’t as perfect as when he left? Maybe introduce a white character into a show which barely features any? It’s hard to say what the point was.
Who Are The Prophet$, Outside of Latrelle?
With the reveal that Monty, similar to Cesar, was raised by and around a gang, specifically The Prophet$, so comes the question of who are they, what’s their history, and does Monty still have family in them? Which, for me, was a significant issue since we learn a bit about Julia and her people, yet nothing about Monty. Which, considering how he is always worried about Monse’s safety, it leads to questions like: Why would someone associated with Prophet$ move to Santos turf? Are we to believe no cousins, aunts, sisters, or even male family members, never were asked to check in despite being in a slightly hostile neighborhood?
Plus, the biggest issue for me is that we’re told by Chivo, Monty, and maybe others, things weren’t always as violent as they are now. So, with that in mind, it pushes you to want to learn more about the past and what happened. That way, you can pinpoint what changed and the Prophet$ aren’t just an enemy gang, of which Latrelle is the only member we know by name.
Who Is Cuchillos?
In the first season, it is assumed Oscar is the head of the Santos because he is positioned to be a leader. Season 2 introduces the idea he might just be middle management as an unseen figure named Cuchillos is pseudo-introduced. The being whose name causes fear in grocery stores is never seen, we’re not given any information about him really, and even though they play a major part towards the end, they remain a mystery. Which sucks since, again, with there being conversations about how much the local gangs have changed, getting to know one of the reasons they have would have been nice.
On The Fence
We get to know Julia, real name Selena, a bit more than the first season but the answer to the big question: Why she left, remains a mystery. Also, the month Monse spends with her doesn’t lead us to see much besides the fact she is wealthy and likes eating at cafes. Making it so you’re glad she’s around yet feels we only got a minuscule of information about her.
Barely Touching Upon Monse Various Conflicting Worlds
Jamal touched upon Monse being bi-racial in season 1 and taking note Monse ends up living with Julia for some time, it pushes the need to ask: Why aren’t the cultural conflicts presented? Take note: Monse is a girl who can code switch so it isn’t like living with Julia would be hard. She goes to camps nearly every summer and likely are exposed to people unlike those in Freeridge. Yet, living amongst them in Brentwood you’d think would have some need for adjustment.
Then, bringing up the Prophet$ again, with her seemingly knowing for a while her dad was raised around them, it makes you wonder why wasn’t that association tapped into? Monse is essentially being raised around Hispanic culture, and with the Black neighborhood, where her dad is from, only a couple of miles away, it pushes you to wonder why doesn’t she connect with her cousins, if not possible aunts and uncles? Hell, if her granddad is alive, why isn’t he in her life?
Now, granted, Monty has seemingly cut himself off but considering how curious Monse is/was about Julia, are you telling me the same wasn’t given to Monty’s family?
Once more, we’re left on a cliffhanger which pushes the idea the kids are in danger. Yet, considering what happens in the season finale, there is a strong chance we don’t need to worry too much. Unlike how the first season ended.
Not Pushing Cesar Growing Up Without Proper Parents More
Like Monse, in terms of addressing the different identities she can tap into, yet may feel are foreign, another missed opportunity is pushing how Cesar didn’t grow up with proper parents. This especially becomes a clear missed opportunity when he lives with Jamal. During that time we see Dwayne try to help him with a tie and we could have pushed the experience even further. Take, for example, giving Jamal’s Mom enough screen time so that she isn’t someone we refer to as Jamal’s mom but a proper name. Also, since Jamal’s house is barely featured, it could have pushed how different his life really is compared to his friends. Especially since his dad owns a business compared to Monty being a truck driver and Ruby’s parents, well it isn’t clear what they do.
Overall: Mixed (Stick Around)
Don’t get me wrong, On My Block remains one of the best shows featuring young people who live in an urban environment, and addressing the things many live through. However, with it being one of the few to do so, like One Day At A Time, there is this immense pressure since it has no real peers. Making it so your expectations are raised since you can’t say On My Block specializes in this, and this other show focuses on that. Leaving you disappointed sometimes when it doesn’t touch on topics you’re invested in whether they are character focused, cultural, or deal with storylines you want to see.
Hence the mixed label. While still a good show, one could argue the show did experience a minor sophomore slump. It did address coping and survivor’s guilt well, built up Jasmine and showed men as vulnerable beings. However, a bunch of little things built up and almost matched the good of the season. For whether you want to bring up minor things like Monse wearing makeup frequently, and it not being addressed, not developing the Prophet$ or going into how the gangs changed over time, or how characters like Amber, arguably, didn’t have much purpose, you got a lot of blemishes. The kind which may not affect your overall experience, but do put a damper on things.
Thus leaving season 2 good, but surely not creating an upward trend which makes you feel the show is getting better and better. If anything, with the success of season 1, now it is trying to figure out how to sustain that, who or what to focus on, and the same growing pains the characters are going through.
Has Another Season Been Confirmed?