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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that On My Block is a series about four friends growing up in South Central Los Angeles. The friends are loving and sweetly supportive of one another and their foibles, but their surroundings are challenging: Several scenes show men being "jumped in" to gangs by being beaten and kicked as teens walk by; gunfire is so frequent that friends make a game of guessing the gun's caliber; and a man chokes a teen for "disrespect" until he learns that his friend is connected to a gang member. Teens fear having to join gangs. Sex is referred to as "hitting it" and "hooking up." Two teens are having a sexual affair; we see them kissing passionately before a girl starts taking off the boy's shirt and the camera cuts away. A boy talks about a girl wanting to "sit on" his face. Men catcall a young girl and talk about her breasts; she crosses her arms and looks uncomfortable. Teens frequently smoke pot and drink, from red Solo cups and from beer cans; two friends drink something from brown bags to pretend they're having beer (it's really Gatorade). Cursing includes "hell," "damn," "goddammit," and the word "bitch" used both affectionately and as an insult. In the show's second season, content matures as the teen characters in the show mature, with subplots about the sudden death of a character, pregnancy, drugs, and gang violence.
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What's the story?
Set in gritty South Central Los Angeles, ON MY BLOCK follows the lives of four loyal friends: Monse (Sierra Capri), Jamal (Brett Gray), Ruby (Jason Genao), and Caesar (Diego Tinoco). Since childhood, they've been able to rely on each other. But as high school looms, they fear both for their own adult future and the survival of the friendship. Raised in a neighborhood where chaos reigns and few escape a life of poverty and/or crime, big dreams have a way of fizzling out. But if the four of them are going to survive and thrive, they're going to have to find a way to get through it -- hopefully together.
Is it any good?
Delicate, deeply felt, and painfully realistic, this look at a group of four friends from a rough Los Angeles neighborhood is a bittersweet delight. Ruby, Caesar, Monse, and Jamal don't exactly have it easy in On My Block. Gunfire is so common in their South Central stomping grounds that the friends have made a game out of trying to figure out the caliber of the gun just from the sound. On the way home from school, they pass drug dealers and gangs "jumping in" new members by beating them. Still, together the four friends have found tenderness between them, and they've relied on each other and their foursome since childhood.
But now things are changing, and each of the four has big problems. Caesar's gangbanger brother Oscar (Julio Macias) is out of jail, and he's pressuring his baby brother to join in the gang. Jamal doesn't want to play football like his sports-legend father expects. Ruby's grandmother's apartment gets flooded, and she has to share Ruby's bedroom. Monse's writing talent might not be enough to help her get to college and make some kind of future for herself. Maybe even tougher: The friends are starting high school, where, Ruby's big brother Mario (Danny Ramirez) tells them, they have to stick together to survive. That's not easy, either. But in the world they live in, a friend who stands by you when times are tough may be the only thing these lovable, street-smart teens can rely on.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about On My Block's violence. Does it seem believable? Scary? Do different types of movie violence have different effects on kids? Is it unusual to see this level of violence in a show about teens? What part do you think these teens' neighborhood plays in the violence that surrounds them?
Why do you think drinking, smoking, and drugs are so prevalent in this series? Are they glamorized? How much of a role do substances play in this story? Is this show's depiction of drinking, smoking, and drugs realistic?
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