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Reservation Dogs - What We Know So Far

One consistent strength throughout New Zealand director Taika Waititi's career is unexpectedness. Whether he is spoofing hollywood vampires with his movie-turned-FX-series "What We Do In the Shadows," or terraforming the MCU landscape with "Thor: Ragnarok," his work always comes with an identity that is both unique and surprising, yet also completely in his ballpark. Right now, it seems as if Waititi's next project is (ironically) no different.

This time, Waititi is teaming up with Indigenous director Sterlin Harjo to create "Reservation Dogs," a witty, subversive tale following four Indigenous teens as they do anything it takes to make it from Oklahoma to California (via Deadline). The series takes direct inspiration from Harjo's experience as a Native Oklahoman.

The series is set to release this summer on FX. Furthermore, the network has released plenty of information regarding the show's release date, cast, and plot. As such, there is plenty to go over before "Reservation Dogs" airs. Here is what we know so far.

When will Reservation Dogs release?

Production for "Reservation Dogs" was first confirmed by Waititi via Twitter all the way back in 2019. Soon after, Waititi and Harjo shot a pilot in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. FX quickly picked up the pilot and gave the project a series order in 2020. On July 15, 2021, FX released an official trailer for the show's first season, preceded by two teasers showing off the series' setting and characters. The official trailer reveals that the series is set to debut on August 9th, 2021 through FX and Hulu.

According to Tulsa World, "Reservation Dogs" is the first scripted network television series to film an entire season exclusively in Oklahoma, bringing in an estimated $10 million to the state and creating over 800 job opportunities. It is also Harjo's first experience working on a scripted TV series. In addition to co-creating the series with Waititi, the pair serve as executive producers, along with Garrett Basch.

Who is in the cast for Reservation Dogs?

Based on Harjo's experience living as an Indegenous Oklahoman, the core cast (and much of the staff) for "Reservation Dogs" primarily consists of local Indegenous people. The show's four main characters portray a group of rebellious teens who become thieves in order to travel to California.

According to a separate article from Deadline, the uneasy leader of this group, Bear Smallhill, is portrayed by D'Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai. His partners in crime include Elora Danan (Devery Jacobs), Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis), and Cheese (Lane Factor). Together, this quartet of ne'er-do-wells run a series of small-time robberies while facing a host of social and cultural problems unique to their home.

"Reservation Dogs" doesn't pull punches when it comes to representation behind the camera, either. Of the aforementioned 800 jobs created by the show's production, many were filled by Natives. This includes every writer and director (counting Waititi's Maori heritage). In addition to this, every series regular in the first season is also Indigenous, according to Deadline.

What is the story of Reservation Dogs?

Beyond telling the tale of a rag-tag group of teens-turned-thieves, "Reservation Dogs" also goes out of its way to delve into the specifics of its characters. Bear, for instance, plays the de facto leader of his group on paper, but he struggles to meet the bar in many ways and is often supplanted by Elora. Despite this, he endeavors to better himself and is helped along his journey of self discovery by a spiritual guide of sorts. Elora is likewise so single-minded that she doesn't quite realize her role in the group. The pair's executive status is rounded out by Willie Jack, the group's bruiser, and Cheese, the overly-dedicated follower.

The four decide to go on a robbing spree after their fifth member, Daniel, dies in a yet-unrevealed incident. Though their jobs are small, they hope to make enough money to reach California. Unfortunately, they are often trapped by the poverty-stricken circumstances of the reservation from their childhood. Whether they can overcome these barriers is a question fans will have to wait to find out, as "Reservation Dogs" makes its way to FX and Hulu August 9.