Why ‘Freeridge’ Maintains the Spirit and Legacy of ‘On My Block’ – But Won’t ‘Replace’ It

Keyla Monterroso Mejia and Bryana Salaz say co-creator Lauren Iungerich assured them the Netflix spinoff was not trying to co-opt its predecessor

Freeridge. (L to R) Bryana Salaz as Ines, Keyla Monterroso Mejia as Gloria in episode 102 of Freeridge. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

(Spoiler alert: This article contains Season 1 spoilers for “Freeridge”).

“Freeridge,” the spinoff to Netflix’s coming-of-age dramedy “On My Block,” is not trying to recreate the mystical realism of its predecessor, according to leads Keyla Monterroso Mejia and Bryana Salaz, who anchor the series with their brutally honest portrayal of two sisters often at odds with one another.

“We were all huge fans,” Mejia — best-known for her scene-stealing turns in “Abbott Elementary” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” — told TheWrap of “On My Block.” “Funny enough, we knew — we were casted in it — and we all watched the fourth season together. Oh, my God, justice for Spooky! But that’s neither here nor there.”

Despite following a new core four in the title neighborhood as they uncover the mythical happenings around them (this time, ridding themselves of a curse rather than chasing after buried treasure), co-creator Lauren Iungerich was steadfast in her belief that “Freeridge” would neither replicate nor rehash the four seasons of the show that established its universe.

The series centers on sibling rivals Gloria (Mejia) and Ines (Salaz) as the duo and their friends Demi (Ciara Riley Wilson) and Cameron (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) unsuspectingly unleash dark misfortune into their lives. “Freeridge,” whose core group was glimpsed in the “On My Block” finale, also sees fan-favorite Peggy Blow return in a new regular role, as the twin sister to the dearly departed Marisol from the original show.

“[Lauren was] the one who was like, ‘This is not like ‘On My Block,’ you are not here to replace. This is called core four, but we’re not replacing a core four; you are following their footsteps. They built this for you. You’re carrying it on,’” Salaz said. “And I think when she said that, we all just felt a huge weight off our shoulders.”

At the show’s premiere, held at Netflix’s Tudum Theater in Los Angeles on Jan. 26, Iungerich spoke candidly about how the series — and “On My Block” before it — carried on her father’s legacy, who died three years earlier. In the same way, the executive producer said “Freeridge” would explore within it the intricacies of loss and joy, of birth and death, of curses and happiness.

“It did feel like a huge responsibility,” Mejia continued. “Because the show is so special, and I think if you’re a true fan, you know what that feels like to be protective of these characters. And I was really scared, I’m not gonna lie. I was very scared. But having three other people that I could sort of share this feeling with and always having each other’s backs, but not only that, I remember when I read the pilot, I felt like I could breathe because the essence of why I loved ‘On My Block’ was in ‘Freeridge.’ They’re both funny and heartfelt and honest and dealt with really hard topics that are both different, but in a way that was appealing to teens. In that way, I felt a sense of relief.”

“Freeridge” is now streaming in its entirety on Netflix.