Reservation Dogs: Season 2

Reservation Dogs Season 2
Reservation Dogs Season 2
Genre: Coming-
of-Age Sitcom

Service: FX on Hulu
Creator: Taika Waititi
Season Year: 2022
Watch: Hulu

The ability of Reservation Dogs to not feel of this current television time and space is amazing. Thing is, it doesn’t feel of another time either. It’s not old-fashioned and it’s not trendy or particularly modern. It’s the story of a group of friends, which doesn’t feel particularly original, but is so original because of who these friends are. And feels so different because of the culture, location and ambition with which it tells its tales. They are personal to indigenous people in a lot of ways, but the universal themes of love, loss, spirituality and loyalty make those personal stories hit in a way a lot of more generic young-people tales can’t. It’s an ironic fish-out-of-water narrative about a world where fish breathe air.

This season, the tight gang of teens starts off scattered. For the first time, seemingly in their lives, they are no longer the Rez Dogs. They are individuals trying their hardest to be grown ups. Even their bond over their dead friend/relative, Daniel, can’t keep them together. Even the fact most of them are graduating from high school and kind of moving into new modes can’t keep them together. But, despite this, the magic and circumstance of this reservation will bring them back together. And, ultimately, it’s Daniel who will be their guide to discovery and reconciliation. A spiritual aspect to the show that applies not a true magical realism so much as a unifying force between friends that overcomes circumstance and anything superficial that may stand in their way. It’s a pretty positive outlook for what feels like a pretty dire situation in terms of breaking cycles of bad.

With all that out of the way, this is yet another entirely entertaining season of TV. The actors, with a whole season under their belts, have upped their game. They are all incredibly charismatic and funny. The writers have truly figured out their voices, and they write to their strengths. They all feel authentic and non-actor-y. The most memorable performances are turned in by Lane Factor, who plays Cheese. He, like most of the main characters this season, is given his own episode to just be the amazingly positive and warm character that he can be. The fact that this young dude was — from what I have found — just “discovered” in Oklahoma for this role is shocking. He seems so at ease and natural in his role. Perhaps they wrote the part to fit his personality, but his episode in which he is put in a home for boys run by a hysterically out-of-touch Marc Maron is one that could stand alone as just a great episode of TV. And there are several of these during the season. Episodes that end, and you just feel them for days afterward.

Ultimately, the gang comes back together, as we knew they would. Even if they didn’t. And in this comes this whole fish-out-of-water thing. We learn and understand that the reservation is in some ways its own universe. They know how to work that system, but every step outside of it brings on whole new things. New people. New dangers. We realize that they are incredibly sheltered in their closed society. In their inability to overcome because of history and generational oppression. An intriguing example of this is the Rez Dogs sitting in a Mexican restaurant in LA trying to figure out what the hell the stuff on the menu is (and why there’s no catfish), while all the servers and customers just figure they’re Mexican and are confused by their confusion. As if they’re not the original inhabitants of this land, but aliens beamed down to Earth imitating humans and human behavior in a country that was once theirs. This entire road trip exposes their naïveté and their innocent, trusting nature that endears us to them even more, but also worries us for their safety and survival. But it all feels of a part of teens on the cusp of becoming adults and making mistakes in a world that no longer has the walls the reservation provided.

The season wraps with more of the magical spirit the show always provides, and really gives us that great cathartic moment that was built with the tension of the season. I do truly love this show, and I hope more folks get to experience it. Its originality and want/need to tell intimate, personal stories in the context of a group of friends, humor and quirkiness is certainly akin to another amazing show, Atlanta. This certainly doesn’t try to be as “artsy” as that one, but it has the ability to couch some universal truths in tales that can seem specific, but reach out in subversive and really interesting ways. I can’t wait for season three to see the evolution of this group of actors and the tales the writers have to tell.