Oklahoma is filled with Native American reservations. We all know the history of how the Europeans migrated to the Americas and violently took over the land. But I’m not here to give you a history lesson. I’m here to talk about a group of kids on a reservation in Taika Waititi’s new show: Reservation Dogs. The show premiered last week, and it was pretty good. It focuses on Bear (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai), Elora (Devery Jacobs), Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis), and Cheese (Lane Factor), all of whom are trying to leave the reservation and go to California.
The first episode is about how the group is getting the money for their trip. They rob a food delivery food truck and hand it over to the “methheads” for cash. Also, they take the chips to sell in the reservation at a cheaper price to help add on. They also have to deal with the new gang in the reservation, run by Jackie (Elva Guerra). The twins Mose (Lil Mike) and Mekko (Funny Bone) are instigating the situation and the sheriff Big (Zahn Mclarnon) is trying to solve all the crimes – stolen delivery trucks, cars, and copper wire. The Rez Dogs are also dealing with the loss of a friend, been a year to the day. They’re just a group of kids coming of age, in this interesting tale.
The episode was written by Sterlin Harjo and Waititi, with Harjo directing. You can tell Harjo is passionate about this project, as it shows through his storytelling. The dialogue is very interesting considering the kids hate the reservation. They don’t tell you how Daniel died, but you get an idea with Willie Jack’s line, “This place killed him.” There’s just something about that place that seems depressing. It’s in a rural area in Oklahoma with nothing to do but get in trouble.
The acting is great from Woon-A-Tai and Jacobs. Alexis steals the show with her limited lines, but she’s just charismatic. Factor plays the shy and behind the crew character well. Lil Mike and Funny Bone bring some great comedy to the show, the lines are there but how they pull them off is hilarious. The cast seems to have some really good chemistry, and enjoy being on set with each other. The soundtrack choices are also interesting. They are different genres but each artist is Native American.
The Millennials and Gen Z are also highly represented in Reservation Dogs. On one end, you have Elora mentioning Bear’s IG followers. On the other end, you have Bear’s mom Rita (Sarah Podemski) singing “Chasing Waterfalls”. The mixture of what we call ‘American’ culture and Native American culture is really noticeable. The differences are also vast. It definitely targets its audience correctly. No matter if you’re a Millennial or Gen Z it is definitely something you can enjoy and get behind.
Overall, this was a very solid episode. The introduction to the characters and their surroundings was great. Harjo gives you a lot of information that’s easily digestible. You think, but not extremely deep, it’s just enough to pick your brain while you laugh. The screenplay is fun, the idea is fun, and the show is just great. The Easter eggs like the Reservoir Dogs poster in Bear’s room just add to how enjoyable the show is. – Rascal F. Kennedy
Reservation Dogs premieres Sunday nights on Hulu!