Disclaimer: Telling you why chapter twenty-eight of On My Block is perfect means telling you how it ends. So spoilers ahead..Duh.
Now that that warning is out of the way let’s get started.
I saw this Netflix original series sometime in 2020 when I was holed up in my room with too much time on my hands. Going into it, I expected it to be nothing more than a whacky show about teenagers being melodramatic about petty problems and their lives in general. I didn’t prepare for the fantastic handling of complex themes like racism, sexism, abandonment, substance abuse, and the imminent shadow of growing up in a neighborhood riddled with gangs.
Sure, there are many ridiculous antiques, especially when Abuela, played by the lovely Peggy Blow, is involved. But I must applaud everyone who played a role in producing this series for bringing to life a film that perfectly balances humor with thoughtful conversations. (If you love diverse casts, then I strongly recommend. The film’s mostly Hispanic and black cast made white people feel like a minority). In less than a week, I finished all twenty-eight episodes of this fantastic series because of how easy it was to get swept in their world. Monse, Ruby, Jamal, and Cesar, the series’ four protagonists, brought life to my screen in this coming-of-age show, evoking strong emotions from love to frustration and sadness. Yes! You bet I cried.
The story follows the friends as they navigate high school while simultaneously dealing with drug dealers, kidnappers and learning to launder money, mostly to get Cesar out of a gang. You know, the usual stuff.
The third season ends on a bit of a sad note for most viewers. After seeing the friends overcome so much together, we see them grow apart. Monse finally decides to leave Freeridge for a private school on the east coast, and while we hope that the band will reunite in the fourth season, the last minutes take us through a time jump where we see our friends grow apart.
Monse is laughing with a new group of female friends with her and old friends’ photos pushed to the back. We also see that Jamal is a part of the school’s football team and now enjoys the company of jocks. The only hint of the whacky Jamal we’ve come to love is when he briefly looks over at Ruby, who is walking hand-in-hand with Jasmine. While visiting the friends grow apart is bitter sweet, the most heartbreaking reveal of all is that after everything, Cesar is not only unable to escape the Santos, he now seems to be the new leader.
Right now, viewers can stream three seasons of On My Block on Netflix, with a promise of a fourth and final season coming soon. But to be honest, I don’t think a final installation is necessary. If you’ve watched the show, you probably think I’m crazy. Cesar has to escape the Santos, and everyone has to be friends again, or the ending won’t be complete. Right?
Well, not necessarily.
Contrary to what movies and books like to portray, friendships don’t last forever. Not as many as pop culture leads us to believe anyway. Don’t forget that when we first meet the gang in season one, they’re more or less adolescents still transitioning into their teenage years. Do you remember the people you were closest to when you were fifteen? Where are they now? Do you even talk? I’m willing to bet you’ve lost contact with most of them, and if you still converse then, it’s nowhere near as much as you used to.
The truth is, I don’t expect you to be best friends with people who were once as close as family. Life happens, people grow up, and more importantly, people change. It’s perfectly understandable for you to outgrow your old friends when your interests and goals no longer align in the real world. So why do we expect movies to be any different?
Monse, Jamal, Ruby, and Cesar could now be radically different people because of circumstances in that two-year time jump. They may no longer see things the same way or have the same values that hold a friendship together, and that’s fine.
Honestly, I’m okay with the cast and crew calling it a wrap after season three. As sad as it may be to see the main protagonists grow apart after being through so much together, sometimes we have to learn to accept a more realistic ending rather than a contrived happy ending.