FX Networks recently gave the green light for a new TV series described as a mix of dark comedy and thriller.
More notable is that many of those involved in “Reservation Dogs” are Native American or Indigenous – including actors, writers and producers.
The series is seen as a positive step toward more representation of Native Americans and Indigenous People in Hollywood, which has always been lacking. When there is representation of Native characters, they are often stereotyped or problematic and not portrayed by Native actors.
“Reservation Dogs” seeks to change those dynamics.
The series is about four Native teenagers in rural Oklahoma who spend their days committing crime and also fighting it. The title is meant to be fun word play: it invokes the 1992 Quentin Tarantino film “Reservoir Dogs” and the term “rez dogs” – stray dogs that roam on reservations.
Sterlin Harjo (Seminole Nation of Oklahoma) and Taika David Waititi (New Zealander of Māori descent) are producing the series, which stars all Native American actors – D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Paulina Alexis, Devery Jacobs and Lane Factor.
Harjo is a writer and director with several credits to his name. Waititi won an Oscar in 2019 for best adapted screenplay for his movie “Jojo Rabbit.”
The half hour series pilot was shot on location in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s capital – Okmulgee – in Oklahoma.
“Sterlin Harjo draws deeply on his experiences as a native Oklahoman to make Reservation Dogs a true-to-life and incredibly funny story of youth, courage and misadventures,” Nick Grad, FX’s head of original programming said in a statement. “Taika Waititi lends his considerable talents to the series, helping … produce a unique and original series we can’t wait for audiences to see.”
Harjo and Taika are longtime friends. Harjo describes the show as one that “celebrates the complementary storytelling styles of our Indigenous communities – mine in Oklahoma and Taika’s in Aotearoa.”
The date for the series debut has not been announced, but it is expected to take place sometime this year.