The remarkable contribution of Reservation Dogs to an arguably indefensibly short list of authentic depictions of Native Americans on the small screen lies in the breadth and specificity that it brought to its depiction of four Indigenous teenage friends. Even as it cheekily riffs on a well-known Hollywood title, its central quartet is a sight rarely seen on-screen, let alone with such verve and texture. Following their scrappy adventures of Elora, Bear, Cheese and Willie (played by breakout stars Devery Jacobs, D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Lane Factor and Paulina Alexis) as they drift through life in Oklahoma, this is a show that takes seriously the hopes, dreams and electricity of its youthful protagonists. More importantly, perhaps, it also keeps a focused eye on the sociological circumstances of their lives—tackling fatherless households, addiction, discrimination, and grief with aplomb; a result, no doubt of the creative team behind it, which includes Oscar winner Taika Waititi and Sterlin Harjo, citizen of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. The FX series is furiously fun, too, brimming with surrealist imagination and deadpan humor that vividly captures a sense of defiant joy in the face of withering dislocation. The end result is something that strikes so true it rings across generations. For its heartfelt and glorious portrayal of being young and Native in modern America, Reservation Dogs wins a Peabody.
PRIMARY PRODUCTION CREDITS
Network/Station/Platform: FX. Creators: Sterlin Harjo, Taika Waititi. Executive Producers: Sterlin Harjo, Taika Waititi, Garret Basch. Produced By: Kathryn Dean. Producer: Tazbah Chavez. Co-Producers: Ingrid Lageder, Migizi Pensoneau, Liz Tan. Directors: Sterlin Harjo, Sydney Freeland, Blackhorse Lowe, Tazbah Chavez. Writers: Sterlin Harjo, Taika Waititi, Bobby Wilson, Tommy Pico, Tazbah Chavez, Migizi Pensonneau.