On Your TV

It’s called ON MY BLOCK and it’s a Netflix original series about a group of high schoolers, and no, I’m not on the Netflix payroll. I am gratified, though, to see a show about teens, all Black and Brown, who live at home with their parents, who are intelligent and articulate, who actually attend their classes, and who plan parties and dodge the gangs (’cause they live in South Los Angeles), and traverse the complicated terrain of first love and sex and search for buried treasure, and other youthful pursuits. I watched the show because I have friends in it (grown-ups), and I’m glad I did. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am dismayed, however, that some of the feedback questions the authenticity of the characters: In other words, Black and Brown kids aren’t intelligent and articulate, don’t come from two-parent homes, don’t even live in homes! And that’s because so much of the visual imagery that bombards us projects the opposite, and it’s done so for so long, that the pervasive view of Black and Brown youth is that they’re all barely literate, drug happy, gang-banging hoodlums. It’s hard to find your place in the world carrying that kind of baggage.

There’s so much ugly in the world because too many of us know too little about those who breathe the same air we do…and that’s because we’ve been fed so many lies about each other that we’ve come to accept them as truth. A little show like ON MY BLOCK can make a big difference. That’s if Netflix renews it for a second season, which it hasn’t done. It’s not a perfect show by any means. One of my biggest complaints is the fat girl jokes. Soooo unnecessary, not to mention ugly. One of my favorite things is that the Abuelita is a pivotal character. You gotta watch just to see what happens when grandma has to move in with family and share her grandson’s bedroom. I’m still giggling! Watch the show–it’s only 10 episodes–and introduce the young people in your life to it. And tell Netflix not to make the stupid mistake of not renewing it for a second season.

And since I’m having so much fun hanging out with the young folks (I know you checked out the March for Our Lives!), check out Lacey Baker on her skateboard. It’s a good thing my left knee already doesn’t function or I’d be in traction!


  1. Thanks for the alert about ON MY BLOCK, Penny. The reactions (to the show) that question the show’s authenticity are lamentable but predictable. I’m willing to bet that you’ve been asked about your own background or nationality. “You’re so articulate. How is it that write so well?”

    There’s a disconnect between the negative images of black and brown people that are projected by the media and the reality many of us live. I am confounded when I encounter folks whose world is so small they cannot accept at face value that U.S. born well-educated, well-spoken, two-parent upwardly mobile black and brown families exist, Moreover I am saddened when I encounter black and brown folks, especially young people, who define themselves by the stereotypes they see, and who are not exposed to the means, ways, and possibilities of becoming whom/whatever they wish to be.

    Gotta’ go stream ON MY BLOCK.


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