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‘On My Block’ sparks controversy while shedding light on diversity

(Left to right) Brett Gray, Sierra Capri, Jason Genao, and Jessica Marie Garcia from 'On My Block.'

(Left to right) Brett Gray, Sierra Capri, Jason Genao, and Jessica Marie Garcia from 'On My Block.'



(Left to right) Brett Gray, Sierra Capri, Jason Genao, and Jessica Marie Garcia from 'On My Block.'

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Upon its release, Netflix’s new show On My Block has received the attention of many teenagers, which can be attributed to its comical and entertaining episodes. The show focuses on young people of color who reside in Los Angeles and are beginning a new chapter in their lives as freshmen in high school. As the show progresses, these teens find themselves into trouble all while trying to make it through high school.

The show addresses issues that the media often does not shed light on. Such issues include the deportation of parents and gang membership. This is seen through one of the main characters, Cesar (Diego Tinoco), who feels forced to embrace his gang membership given as his whole family was apart of one. Of course, his friends have set themselves on a mission to ensure that Cesar does not have the same future. This type of portrayal is a concept that is not often depicted in popular teen shows, which is what makes On My Block distinctive.

Moreover, there are numerous scenes within the show that are highly comical and will have the audience constantly entertained. Main characters, Jamal (Brett Gray) and Ruby (Jason Genao), never fail to crack jokes and engage in amusing activities, such as the endless scenes in which Jamal pretends to be injured in order to tell his parents that he is unable to play football. Jamal’s humor that is demonstrated during the very first episode in which he pretends to support his friend Monse (Sierra Capri) from a far distance as she walks across the street to confront a gang, is a characteristic that captivates viewers and prompts them to continue watching.

The show is only 10 episodes long, makings it doable in terms of binge watching. This prevents the show from dragging the storyline which many shows often tend to do. The show also consists of enjoyable music that will please the viewers as they are watching. Such songs include “Electric” by Alina Baraz featuring Khalid, which plays during an aesthetically pleasing scene where Monse and Cesar are dancing in the night under the lights of a party.

Although the show is progressive in many other aspects, there were moments in which the show fails to demonstrate consideration. This can be seen when Monse and Olivia are ranting about feminism and make an insensitive comment about being placed in “emotional burkas” thus suggesting that wearing one equates to having no freedom, a common misconception held in society that is reinforced by the show. Not only that, but the portrayal of one of the Latino characters on the show was casted by a white actress, who was criticized for ruining a scene where she speaks Spanish. Fans criticized the show for failing to represent a Latina character with an actual Latina actress. In addition, given the amateur actors that were casted, some tended to act in a way that was off. This can be witnessed throughout the show, in which character Monse, demonstrates awkward acting skills. This is seen when she denies her infatuation with Cesar as Olivia confronts her about it while in her room.

Despite its flaws, the shows many entertaining aspects outweighs the negative ones. On My Block still offers a different perspective on the Latino community that is not typically shown in the media. Not only that, but the show has many humorous moments that will fulfill the viewers.

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