Review of the first season of “Reservation Dogs”

Photo: FX on Hulu

November is National Native American Heritage Month. This year, as the Thanksgiving holidays draw near, I beg you to do yourself a favor and stuff your face with episodes of Dogs Reservation rather than turkey.

Ahead of its release in August 2021, I explained why you should be excited about the series. I seriously underestimated how amazing that would be. Dark comedy at its core, the world and characters created by Sterlin Harjo grab your attention as the viewer. Here is my opinion on Dogs Reservation season one.

Reservation Dogs Season 1 Plot

The show takes place at Muscogee Nation in Oklahoma. We meet the occupants of the fictional Okern, OK, with the main focus on a group of teenagers known as Reservation Dogs or Rez Dogs. The group consists of Bear, Elora, Cheese and Willie Jack. The crew are on a chip truck heist to raise money so they can leave their lives on the reserve behind for the greener pastures of life in California. There was a fifth member of Rez Dogs named Daniel who has passed away. As the story of the first season progresses, we learn more about what happened and how it shaped our main characters and their community.

Throughout the season, we see the Rez Dogs working together to raise funds while simultaneously learning their individual stories. This is where the show really started to show its greatness. Each character’s “solo” episode added so much to everyone. Our characters also have to decide whether or not they are ready to continue the big move.

Reservation Dogs Cast Performances

I thought I would appreciate the cast of the limited interactions in the first trailer. I wasn’t prepared for the powerful performances of two, in particular, Devery Jacobs as Elora and Paulina Alexis as Willie Jack. When it comes to captivating and moving scenes, these two were above the rest. Keep an eye out for everyone when the rewards season rolls around because they’ve run over them.

Our main Bear character is played by D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, and Lane Factor rounds out the main cast as Cheese.

The background characters also deserve heaps of praise. Performers Lil Mike and FunnyBone steal the scenes they’re in with a combination of energy and mic skills. Actor Zahn McClarnon perfectly embodies the local Big Law Enforcement Officer. Kirk Fox plays a perfect close who leads a team of meth heads. The way he distributes his “indigenous wisdom” is amazing. Wes Studi and Gary Farmer take on the role of area elders. Finally, we have Bill Burr. This man needs more respect for his acting chops.

He was great in breaking Bad, took a step in The Mandolorian, and now we have his performance as coach Bobson. The seventh episode, “Calfornia Dreamin ‘”, is an emotional roller coaster. We learn a lot, laugh some more and shed a few tears too. It’s the highlight of the show for me so far, and Burr is amazing as Devery Jacobs is out of this world.

Wrap Rez Dogs

If you’ve seen the show before, now’s a great time to rewatch. Football games are going to be a draw anyway. There is so much in the background to soak up too. Take the time to read some of the posters / stickers on the walls or t-shirts of certain characters. He becomes his own little Easter egg hunt. You know Bear’s address was no coincidence.

The actors, writers, and directors are all native, and while it’s perfect for this show, it provides another important reminder. They brought a story to life and made it rich and captivating. For too long most would have been neglected for writing and acting gigs if it weren’t for playing or writing an “Indian”. Fuckin ‘ashamed, and I hope, show like Dogs Reservation and Rutherford Falls help reverse that thought.

To verify Dogs Reservation on FX on Hulu.

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Schwartzy is a DILF and (participating) trophy husband. More Splenda Daddy than Sugar. I’m twittering, hit me! @ drschwa_96

About Michael B. Billingsley

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