‘Reservation Dogs’: 5 Things to Know About TV’s Best New Show

Reservation Dogs Bear Elora and Willie Jack
Shane Brown/FX

If you haven’t tuned into FX on Hulu’s offbeat comedy Reservation Dogs yet, then what are you waiting for? The half-hour series from co-creators Sterlin Harjo and Oscar winner Taika Waititi is bringing a dose of grittiness to TV.

Following four Indigenous teens living in rural Oklahoma, the comedy tracks their exploits which include stealing, robbing, and saving funds in order to one day escape to California after the untimely death of one of their best friends. A raw look at the reality of reservation life, Reservation Dogs is the kind of series that delivers relatable and honest tales of struggle, friendship, and culture.

Reservation Dogs cast

(Credit: Shane Brown/FX)

In case you’re looking for a few more reasons to check out this gem, we’re rounding up some of Reservation Dogs‘ most compelling reasons to tune in.

The Must-See Cast

Reservation Dogs Gary Farmer cast

(Credit: Shane Brown/FX)

At the center of this series are stars D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Devery Jacobs, Paulina Alexis, and Lane Factor who play Bear, Elora, Willie Jack, and Cheese, a group of friends who are trying to change their lives. The young Indigenous actors are all relative newcomers, particularly Factor who is making his onscreen debut with the project. But watching the show, you’d never know these young talents were up-and-coming as they come across like seasoned pros.

While Reservation Dogs does have some more familiar stars appearing in recurring and guest roles, the series benefits from its less starry crew. Shining a light on marginalized performers boosts their visibility and doesn’t distract viewers with overutilized performers, proving that franchise favorites and big names aren’t necessary ingredients for success.

TV Crossover

reservation dogs devery jacobs paulina alexis zahn mclarnon

(Credit: Shane Brown/FX)

Among the show’s recurring and guest-starring cast are several more established Indigenous actors who are also part of other favorite shows. Rutherford Falls writer and actress Jana Schmieding popped up in Episode 2 as a receptionist at the reservation’s IHS Clinic. Meanwhile, Zahn McClarnon who plays Officer Big has made memorable marks in shows like Westworld, Barkskins, The Son, and Longmire among others.

Gary Farmer, who plays Uncle Brownie, and Sarah Podemski, who plays Bear’s mom Rita, both star in Syfy’s hit Resident Alien. And then there’s legendary actor and honorary Oscar recipient Wes Studi who dropped in for Episode 5. Although better known for his film work, Studi’s most recent TV credits include Grey’s Anatomy, Woke, Penny Dreadful, and The Red Road.

Reservation Dogs Meaning

Reservation Dogs Cast

(Credit: Shane Brown/FX)

The show’s first promotional images looked pretty familiar as the core group of young stars donned a similar suit and tie ensemble as the characters in Quentin Tarantino‘s 1992 film Reservoir Dogs. The reference is no coincidence as the series title Reservation Dogs is both influenced by the movie and inspired by the real-life phenomenon of “Rez Dogs” which are stray dogs that dwell on reservation lands.

Original Tunes

Along with featuring artists Lil Mike and Funny Bone who ride around the reservation on their bikes while dropping beats, Reservation Dogs features one of TV’s catchiest new tunes, “Greasy Frybread.” The song which references the traditional cuisine is performed by hip hop artist Sten Joddi as Punkin’ Lusty, Bear’s dad. FX even dropped a full music video for the song which will undoubtedly permeate your brain.

Authentic Location & Team

Reservation Dogs Zahn McClarnon Lane Factor

(Credit: Shane Brown/FX)

The series is filmed on location in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, relying greatly on its surroundings to help tell each episode’s story. The show also has an authentic creative team with every writer, director, and series regular hailing from an Indigenous background.

Reservation Dogs, Season 1, New Episodes, Mondays, FX on Hulu