On My Block, which premiered on Netflix on March 16, follows a formula that’s already pretty beloved: A group of teens who’ve been friends for a while start high school together. Along the way they try to figure out themselves, one another, and the world. As a show, On My Block is at once irreverent, sweet, and bold. It also feels like a much-needed addition to the classic genre of teen ensemble dramedies.
The teens in this particular show live in inner-city Los Angeles, with all the positives and negatives that come with that. In the pilot, Monse (Sierra Capri) returns from writing camp to find that two of her closest friends are suddenly on bad terms with the fourth member of the group — Cesar (Diego Tinoco), who over the summer was pushed into gang life by his brother. The four set out to find a way to get him out of his situation. But they’re also dealing with the basic (and eternal) questions teen shows are built on — questions like how to navigate high school, new romances, changing bodies, changing libidos, and teen awkwardness.
As one character’s big brother says in the show’s first episode, “Don’t go into high school without back up. You guys need to stick together to survive. Got it?” That’s an eternal formula right there.