Devery Jacobs as Elora Danan, Paulina Alexis as Willie Jack, D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai as Bear, and Lane Factor as Cheese in Reservation Dogs (Screenshot via Youtube) FX’s Reservation Dogs is funny, touching, and full of promise.
Based on its fresh and wonderful pilot, FX’s new half-hour comedy series Reservation Dogs has the potential to be something special. But after wandering away from its four central characters in subsequent episodes, it will need a little nudge back in the right direction.
Co-created by Sterlin Harjo, a Seminole from Oklahoma, and Taika Waititi, a half-Jewish, half-Maori New Zealander who has become one of the most in-demand talents in Hollywood after directing Thor: Ragnarok and Jojo Rabbit (for which he also won a screenwriting Oscar), the series is drenched in funny, surprising, sometimes moving details about teen life on an Oklahoma Indian reservation. Its texture alone is reason enough to watch; there’s nothing else like it on television.
Especially in the pilot, the show offers a winsome combination of innocence and absurdity. The Dogs of the title are four frustrated, rebellious Indian teens, two boys and two girls, who embark on a spree of banditry in hopes of saving up for a move to California. They steal copper from utility poles and pull off a mad caper involving a truck full of crispy snacks that they proceed to sell by the unit as if they were drug dealers. (Their language is R-rated but their souls are wholesome, and they seem not to drink or use drugs themselves.) The four teens, each lost and wounded and floundering, are adorably courageous and endearingly weird: “My name is Cheese. My pronouns are he, him, and his,” one boy (Lane Factor) keeps saying with impeccable deadpan. Cheese’s pals are Elora Danan (Devery Jacobs), a coolly competent born leader who has to deal with the indignity of being named after a character in the movie Willow; Bear (D’Pharaoah Woon-a-Tai), a forlorn boy whose rapper dad has drifted off to Los Angeles; and Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis), an aggressively combative girl who speaks as though she
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