Why “On My Block” Season 2 is Important

 

*This article contains spoilers*

 

The long-awaited season 2 of Netflix’s “On My Block” released on March 29, 2019. The first season left us all with a major cliffhanger, dying to know more about who literally died in the last episode of the season. In case you don’t know, “On My Block” is a Netflix original about a group of friends who are starting high school. This isn’t just an ordinary high school show though. These kids are Freeridge born and raised - a fictional hood based in Los Angeles, California. “On My Block” shows all of the issues, on top of basic high school drama, that comes to kids who grow up and live in hoods that have active gang culture.

 

(Photo via On My Block IMDB - by Nicola Goode)

 

The first season explored the lives of the main group of kids - Monse, Ruby, Jamal, and Cesar - who have pretty much known each other all of their lives. We also get to know a little about two other characters:Jasmine and Olivia, who play smaller roles in the show. The first season is all about Jamal’s quest to find the missing RollerWorld money, and the crew’s overall desire to save their friend Cesar (who has now joined his family’s legacy gang - the Santos). The ending left us in tears and suspense after Olivia and Ruby were shot at Olivia’s quinceanera but we don’t know who survives; and Jamal seems to have found the RollerWorld money.

 

The second season answered all of our questions that the last episode left us hanging with - all within the first episode. The rest of the season goes through the repercussions the crew has to deal with after everything that happened last season. Cesar finds himself homeless, Ruby is grieving, Jamal doesn’t know what to do with the RollerWorld money, and Monse is getting to know her mom but also conflicted about leaving Freeridge. This season dove deep into issues that are important to all teens, but especially teens in hoods like Freeridge.

 

Here are 4 reasons why season 2 is important:

 

(Photo via Vulture - by Nicola Goode)

 

1.  Ruby’s Battle with PTSD:

The first season ended with the fate of Ruby and Olivia unclear after they both were shot. We find out in the second season that Ruby survived, but Olivia died. This left Ruby with an enormous amount of trauma that he finds himself struggling with throughout the second season. Not only is he traumatized by actually being shot and almost dying, but he is also grieving the loss of Olivia. He loved her and lost her due to the gang violence in his city. We can see the pain that Ruby is in as he tries to get back to a normal life, and all of the triggers that set him off. Loud noises trigger his trauma, the song that was playing when he was shot induces a panic attack, and so much more. Ruby also goes through the stages of grief on a whole different level, as he’s angry Olivia died but also angry he almost died. I found the most powerful parts of Ruby’s battle with PTSD is the raw emotion they showed on screen. They allowed him to cry, to feel his pain, and to express how he felt without making him seem like any less of a man - or boy.

 

(Photo via On My Block IMDB - by Nicola Goode)

 

2. Monse’s Relationship with her Mom:

For Monse, this season was about her finally getting the answer she wanted about Julia - she is her mom. Monse began to develop her relationship with her mom and get to know her better. With this and all of the violence that has been rising in Freeridge, she decides to stay in Brentwood with her mom for a while. While this is good for Monse to spend time with her mom, it also takes her away from her friends who she begins to miss. This relationship is especially special in the show because it’s another side to single parents we hardly see on television, single dads. Growing up without a mother has shaped Monse to be the person she now is, and through both seasons we have seen how much she wished to know Julia. It goes even deeper when Monse gets to the real reason why her mom left, and it makes her realize she doesn’t actually need her. This causes her to deal with the prejudices and discrimination she didn’t think she would ever face when it came to her own mom.

 

(Photo via On My Block IMDB - by Nicola Goode)

 

3. Cesar’s Struggle with Gang Culture

As someone who grew up in South Central Los Angeles, this show hits home in a way most shows can’t. It’s about these kids trying to navigate through life with problems that go beyond teenage drama. Not only are they finding themselves, but they have to deal with the realities of being in a “hood”. Cesar is the prime example for kids who struggle with gang culture in LA and don’t see any way out. He is a kid with goals and dreams, much like his brother Oscar once had. But in the first season, he was given no other option but to join the Santos gang, and start truly living in that lifestyle. The second season is all about the repercussions of gang culture from the first season. Cesar finds himself homeless after his brother kicks him out for not killing the Prophet (neighborhood gang) member who shot Ruby and Olivia. He is deemed as weak and is no longer wanted at home, or by anyone with the Santos. It’s more complicated too as Cesar has the Prophets out looking for him too, since they want him dead. The whole show shines a light on the issues that come for kids growing up in these hoods. These kids who feel like they have no other choice, or those who think this is the life they’re destined to have. I’ve seen it happen myself.

 

(Photo via Bustle - by Nicola Goode)

 

4. Jasmine’s Role

Our girl Jasmine finally got some of the screen time she deserves this season (although I’m definitely hoping for more in the future). During this season, we got to see more about Jasmine and her background story that made me love her character ten times more. She is one of the funniest characters on the show, but she is so much more than just comedic relief. Jasmine is the epitome of an amazing friend and self-care advocate. This season she is much of the needed support for Ruby, making sure that he knows he’s not alone in his struggle with PTSD. The best scene with Jasmine this season showed just how genuine of a character she is. In this scene, we learn that Jasmine’s dad is in a trance-like state where he’s there but not actually there mentally. Jasmine tells Ruby that when her dad came back from Afghanistan, this is how he got and stayed since then. She uses her own story to help Ruby through his own PTSD. She reminds him that no matter how much they want things to go back to normal, it never will. She tells him, “For all the reasons you're trying to make right with the universe, the universe is just gonna be what it is.” This whole scene sent chills down my spine, and made me love jasmine’s character that much more. There’s a valuable lesson in knowing that there are things in the world we can’t control. We can only choose to focus on the things we can actually control, like ourselves. She tells Ruby, “Some people may not like me, but that just means I got to love me that much more.”

 

The second season was overall amazing and worth the binge watch. It’s a perfect blend of comedy and drama, with life lessons we all learn as teens - even more so for those who grow up in hoods like Freeridge. The multiple pop culture references, the political stances, pushing of gender norms, and more is just some of the small contributions that make this show thrive. While the ending was honestly a little strange and abrupt, it leaves us room to wonder - and hope for season 3!