Reservation Dogs, review: offbeat comedy like nothing you've seen before – and yet still very familiar
Paulina Alexis, Devery Jacobs, D'Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai and Lane Factor - Disney
Watching reservation dogs (Star on Disney +) is a strange experience because it is different from everything else, yet is designed to remind you of everything else. It's a show about a gang of kids getting themselves into various scrapes that definitely has a touch of The Goonies (but without the PG rating). It is set in a part of the USA that feels like nowhere and is populated by quirky, expressionless characters in the style of Northern Exposure or Napoleon Dynamite. And then there's the title - an obvious reference to Quentin Tarantino.
The difference is that it is a mainstream Native American comedy directed by a predominantly Indigenous team. I'm not sure how to envision a reservation, but it wasn't this: a freaky Oklahoma town where teenagers go mad with boredom.
The creators of the series Sterlin Harjo (who is Native American) and Taika Waititi (who isn't) have fun with the stereotypes. Dallas Goldtooth - what's that for a name? But his wisdom is nonsense and he can barely ride a horse.
The story is specific to this community as well as universal themes of teenage alienation and growing up. The focus is on four main characters, Bear, Willie, Elora, and Cheese, all of whom dream of going to California and are involved in various low-level criminal activities to fund their escape.
Bear (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai) gets the most attention in the first two episodes. He lives with his single mother and is beaten up by members of a rival gang. Like the other three, he has our sympathies from the start. There is a sadness behind her quick plans to get rich: a friend who, as is strongly suggested, has committed suicide.
Writing is smart and can be fun, but the desire to be unconventional makes it seem too forced (especially a pair of rapping twins). Despite his retrospective references, the script now feels very specific: "Nobody follows," says Bear after a high-speed excursion. "Just like his Insta," adds Elora. If i was younger i would probably love it.
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