The world of “Free Ridge” is brought back to life after the ending of the well-known series “On My Block,” set in the same charming neighborhood. This spin-off features a few familiar names: Keyla Monterroso Mejia from “Abbott Elementary” plays Gloria, and Tenzing Norgay Trainor, who is often recognized by his role in “Liv and Maddie,” stars as Cameron. Of course, “Free Ridge” also brings over a few characters from the original series. Really, who could forget Peggy Blow, an endearing and mysterious abuela who made “On My Block” memorable for its viewers. But does “Free Ridge” really bring life to the neighborhood as well as its predecessor?
“On My Block” left viewers with more than a few questions after it hinted at a new friend group exploring magic and curses at the end of the series. The opening of “Free Ridge” gave viewers a memorable introduction to two of these friends — or should we say bickering sisters just one fight away from expulsion? Ines, like many younger sisters, finds every way (though sometimes unintentionally) to bother her inevitably annoyed older sister, Gloria. Part of this includes her injecting herself in Gloria’s friend group, which is made up of two other high school students; Demi and Cameron have been victims of Ines’s tormenting far too many times. Still, these four friends often find themselves in peculiar situations, leaving them to depend on each other no matter how bothersome one of their members may be.
Pulling from a similar theme as “On My Block,” “Free Ridge” focuses on a curse accidentally released by the four friends as they try to alleviate the problems taking over their lives. Peggy, the peculiar abuela from “On My Block” adds to the suspense as she comes back from the dead and begins offering a large amount of much-needed money to the friends in exchange for a curse-ridden box.
The personality of each member of the group shines as they react to the impacts of this curse or, at least, what they believe are the effects. Demi wholeheartedly believes in the curse and coerces the group to do so as well, while Gloria showcases her older sister personality as she speculates about the truth behind the mishaps in their lives.
As they navigate through the curse, personal problems and, of course, all the drama every teenager loathes (or possibly loves?), the characters create a warm, touching tone even in the midst of sorrow, vulnerability and heartache. The importance of relationships, both family-wise and friend-wise, plays just as big of a role in the spin-off as it did in “On My Block,” truly making its mark as a teen comedy-drama.
However, even with all the laughs it brings, “Free Ridge” does fall short in some areas. At times, it may feel as if you are just watching high schoolers go back and forth with insults and comebacks. Thankfully for viewers though, the show doesn’t try too hard to be relatable or dramatic and keeps its tone as lighthearted watch.
With its quickly timed jokes and a sprinkle of magic, “Free Ridge” is able to carry the same characteristics that made “On My Block” a well-loved series. It is truly a spin-off that isn’t just a replica of the original. If you are looking for a lighthearted watch, tune into the slightly magical neighborhood of “Free Ridge.”