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‘On My Block’ is the Netflix series where diversity is done right

On My Block season 2 was released for binging pleasure on Mar. 29. For those of us who have been down since season 1, it’s safe to assume we’ve already finished season 2 and are itching for more.

But why is a show about teens growing up so good? It’s because it’s not just another coming of age story.

On My Block takes place in a fictional inner-city L.A. neighborhood called Freeridge. In the neighborhood, a Black and Latinx cast must survive their dangerous gang based community.

The main characters are young, high school freshmen young. Although the actors are in their early 20s and late teens, the authenticity shines through their acting.

The show is labeled a comedy, but the very real drama is what hits the hardest. The show’s first season deals with one of the main characters, Cesar Diaz’s introduction into the Santos’ Gang.

Cesar’s brother Oscar ‘Spooky’ Diaz, is one of the leaders of the Santos so naturally, his little bro is expected to join once he’s of age. And of age means right before high school.

The show follows his group of friends, Monse, Ruby, and Jamal who are helping Cesar find a way out. They all know becoming an official Santo is detrimental to almost all other possible paths of life.

Through the lens of the teens, we get to see complex characters. Spooky for example may seem like the hard gang leader he wants you to think he is, but he’s also a talented cook.

Additionally,  he’s a loving brother plagued by the consequences from the choices he made to survive. After a few episodes, Julio Macias’ character Spooky shows a softer side, breaking away from his hard exterior.

But it’s the writing of the show that makes On My Block feel so real. Hint: The writers’ room is made up of POCs.

The slang isn’t cheezy and the experiences of the teens don’t feel overdramatized. The handling of the PTSD the kids feel is also on par with reality.

Simply put, it goes to show that having a diverse writers’ room goes hand in hand with diversity on screen.

As a comedy, one would expect the show to gloss over tragedy or use it for comedic effect. Yet, the negative experiences that the teens go through spare no pain.

The comedy shines through the hope that the teens revive time and again in order to stay sane. Humor is used as a coping mechanism instead of an escape or exaggeration of a problem.

The show explores gang life, poverty, teen homelessness, immigration, and gun violence all with respect to the very real communities that experience these issues.

Except for in season 1 where they had a white Trump supporter play a Latina who is dealing with her parents being deported, but season 2 makes up for that.

Season 2 also comments on gender politics, consent and sexuality, and disability. Still,  other issues carry more weight.

Ruby is often the voice of reason. He’ll protest gender reveals and advocate for males being in touch with their femininity. He also expresses his more difficult feelings without shame.

Ruby really serves as a good role model for his younger siblings, his friends, and viewers.

A master dancer, Ruby is possibly the strongest and well rounded young adult in the show despite the amount of tragedy he experiences.

The real tragedy is that we’ll have to wait another year for 10 more 30-minute episodes.