Why Taika Waititi’s Reservation Dogs Getting FX Pick-Up Matters

FX’s full-series pickup matters.

The cast of Reservation Dogs

A half-hour dark comedy series about a group of Native teenagers crimin’ and dealin’ in Oklahoma, with an all-Native core cast and Native people behind the camera, and a Quentin Tarantino referencing-title. Sound like a tasty cup of tea? It does for me, too — and adding Taika Waititi to the mix as co-creator and writer only sweetens the pot. FX has given Reservation Dogs, this very show, a series pickup. Here’s why it sounds so good, and why it’s so important for the future of television.

Here’s what Nick Grad, President, Original Programming, FX Entertainment, had to say about the pickup: “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. Taika Waititi lends his considerable talents to the series, helping Sterlin and their creative partner Garrett Basch produce a unique and original series we can’t wait for audiences to see.” Co-creator Harjo, who co-wrote the pilot with Waititi and directed it, said this about the news and his collaboration with Waititi: “As longtime friends, it was only natural that Taika and I found a project together, and what better than a show that celebrates the complementary storytelling styles of our indigenous communities––mine in Oklahoma and Taika’s in Aotearoa. We’re thrilled by the opportunity to tell the Reservation Dogs’ story with our amazing cast and crew, Garrett Basch, and the whole team at FX.” Other members of their team include executive producer Basch (What We Do in the Shadows, another Waititi-involved FX comedy series) and, of course, their incredible cast: D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai (Creeped Out), Devery Jacobs (American Gods), Paulina Alexis (Beans), and newcomer Lane Factor.

Taika Waititi directing The Mandalorian
Image via Disney+

Beyond the obvious talent inherent in this creative team, and the genre pleasures of a dark comedy-thriller-vibed TV seriesReservation Dogs is important because of its huge step toward Indigenous inclusion and representation in the entertainment industry. In terms of talent either seen on camera or working behind the scenes, the numbers are, from a pure data standpoint, embarrassingly low. And when Native characters are introduced, or Native “mythologies” explored, like in recent HBO horror series Lovecraft Country, the results are often problematic and destructive. With Reservation Dogs, a series absolutely stacked with Native creators and talent, the doors will only keep getting kicked open, with more varying stories of all kinds of genres from this wide-reaching community being told and received.

I can’t wait for Reservation Dogs — and as soon as we know more about when the series will debut on FX, beyond a 2021 promise, we’ll have it for you.

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