FX will debut the first show about Native Americans produced by Native American and other Indigenous people this year.
“Reservation Dogs,” will be a half-hour comedy series about four Native American teenagers growing up on a reservation in eastern Oklahoma, according to Disney, the parent company of the FX networks. The writers room for “Reservation Dogs” will reportedly be “entirely composed of Indigenous writers.”
The title and concept of the show are a nod to the gory Quentin Tarantino film “Reservoir Dogs.” The Oklahoman reported that the main characters of the show “spend their days committing crime, and fighting it.”
Native writers and other tribal members celebrated the announcement on Twitter:
The idea for the show was first teased back in 2019, but now the project is becoming a reality. Disney confirmed at its Investor Day that the show is currently in development. The team reportedly concluded filming the pilot in Oklahoma in summer 2020, though the COVID-19 pandemic caused disruptions in filming.
The show will be co-created by Taika Waititi, who won an Oscar for “Jojo Rabbit” in 2019, and director/producer Sterlin Harjo. Waititi is from New Zealand and of Māori ancestry. Harjo, meanwhile, is part of the Seminole and Creek nations and has Muskogee heritage.
Waititi has a track record of including indigenous people and history in his work. For instance, when he directed the Marvel blockbuster, “Thor Ragnarok,” he incorporated several references to the Aboriginal and Māori people throughout the film. He also made it a point to hire a number of Indigenous people as crew members for the film. In addition to directing the upcoming “Thor: Love And Thunder,” Waititi will also direct a new “Star Wars” movie.
Harjo also has a history of giving Native American communities a platform in his films. He’s directed several movies and a documentary that shed light on Native American storytelling. He is also one of the directors of the Cherokee Nation's monthly television news magazine, Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People.
Though Native American representation is in short supply on American TV and in pop culture, Waititi and Harjo are part of a small but growing contingent in the industry working to turn the tide. Beyond “Reservation Dogs,” several upcoming shows are putting Native Americans and Indigenous communities front and center.
Later this year, Netflix will release “Spirit Rangers,” a fantasy-adventure preschool series. “Spirit Rangers” features an all-Native writers room, and its showrunner, Karissa Valencia, is a Chumash tribal citizen. Peacock's “Rutherford Falls,” will also include “television's first Native female showrunner, Navajo and Mexican American filmmaker Sierra Ornelas, and a writers room that is 50 percent Native,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.