Reservation Dogs, episodes 1-3

D'Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Jack Maricle, Devery Jacobs, Paulina Alexis in Reservation Dogs

Reservation Dogs is a new comedy series on FX (and Hulu) about Native American teens in a small community on a reservation in Oklahoma. Based on the first three episodes, I think it’s going to be an outstanding series.

Reservation Dogs was created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi. Sydney Freeland was the only woman director in the first 3 episodes. (She also directed Deidra & Laney Rob a Train. )

D'Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Jack Maricle, Devery Jacobs, and Paulina Alexis in Reservation Dogs

The four main characters are tough teens trying to raise enough money to get off the reservation and head for California. In the first episode they steal a chip delivery truck. They sell it to a chop shop but keep the chips, which they sell in their front yard.

Bear (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai), with all the curly hair above, is the leader. He is knocked down a couple of times and has visions of speaking to a warrior from the past. These conversations change his attitude toward getting out of town.

Elora Danan (Devery Jacobs), on the left above, has the brains in the group. She sits in the driver’s seat wherever they go. The girl in the backwards cap is Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis), and beside her is Cheese (Jack Maricle).

Of these four, only Devery Jacobs identifies as a native American (Kahnawake Mohawk) in her IMDB bio. However, the FX site for the series says, “Every writer, director and series regular on the show is Indigenous.”

Big (Zahn McClarnon) is the local cop. Unlike the tough cop he played in Longmire, here McClarnon is a bit of a joke. The town is full of interesting characters, family members of the teens, and assorted others needed to fill out the stories.

D'Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Devery Jacobs, and Paulina Alexis in Reservation Dogs

In the second episode the teens discover there’s a rival gang in town. In the third episode they ask for help learning to fight from Elora Danan’s uncle.

The teens are a contemporary creation with a long cultural history. One minute they are engaged in a traditional ceremony, the next minute they are advising an elder about where the pot dispensary is. They are connected to their heritage in powerful ways, but living in a modern world. Based on how that played out in just these 3 episodes, I’d say that clash of cultures will form a strong backbone to build some meaningful stories and comedy around. It feels like there’s going to be a lot of substance along with the humor.

I’m looking forward to seeing more of this series.

Reservation Dogs poster

Here’s the trailer.

What do you think? Are you going to give this series a look?

Author: Virginia DeBolt

After many years as an educator and writer, Virginia retired from working life. She's always loved a good movie or TV show and wants to use her free time to talk about them with you now. #EldersRock! Look for Old Ain't Dead on Twitter.

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