|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||8|
|Running time||25-30 minutes|
|Original network||FX on Hulu|
|Original release||August 9, 2021 –|
Reservation Dogs is a comedy television series created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi for FX Productions. It is a notable first in that it features all Indigenous writers and directors, along with an almost entirely Indigenous American cast and production team. It is also the first series to be shot entirely in Oklahoma. The series premiered on FX on Hulu on August 9, 2021 (International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples). In September 2021, the series was renewed for a second season.
The series follows the lives of four Indigenous teenagers in rural Oklahoma, as they spend their days committing crime and fighting it, in an effort to get to California.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||"F*ckin' Rez Dogs"||Sterlin Harjo||Sterlin Harjo & Taika Waititi||August 9, 2021|
|Elora Danan, Bear, Willie Jack, and Cheese (the Rez Dogs) steal a delivery truck and sell it. They are trying to raise money to leave their small reservation community and escape to the exotic, mythical land of California. They are mourning their friend Daniel who died a year earlier and hold a small memorial for him. When a car full of teenagers (the NDN Mafia) drives by and shoots paintballs at the Rez Dogs, Bear faints and encounters an Indigenous spirit, who attempts to give him life advice.|
|2||"NDN Clinic"||Sydney Freeland||Sterlin Harjo||August 9, 2021|
|Bear gets jumped and beat up by the NDN Mafia, necessitating a visit to the local clinic. Elora and Willie Jack set up outside to sell meat pies next to a guy selling traditional medicines. Throughout the episode, the four encounter various members of their community. Cheese is kind to an old woman who thinks he is her grandson. The spirit from episode 1 has issues. The local doctor flirts with Bear's mom, who works at the clinic.|
|3||"Uncle Brownie"||Blackhorse Lowe||Sterlin Harjo||August 16, 2021|
|Still concerned about the attacks by the NDN Mafia, the Rez Dogs go to find Elora's uncle, Brownie, to see if he'll teach them to fight. Tales are told of Brownie the powerful warrior and how he knocked out numerous people in a bar fight. They spend the day trying to help Brownie sell his ancient weed, in the process learning "Indigenous-style" about his ways of fighting.|
|4||"What About Your Dad"||Sydney Freeland||Bobby Wilson & Tommy Pico||August 23, 2021|
|Bear's dad, a rapper, is hired to perform at the local clinic's Diabetes Awareness Frybread Feast. Bear spends the California fund buying him a gift—a beaded medallion of a microphone that instead resembles a penis.|
|5||"Come and Get Your Love"||Blackhorse Lowe||Sterlin Harjo||August 30, 2021|
|Cheese spends a day on a ride-along with Big. Along the way, they meet Bucky, who makes sculptures from stolen copper; Big gets teased by a couple of white cops; the NDN Mafia get busted for a stolen car; finally, Big tells Cheese why he became a cop, a story that involves the Deer Lady, who has been a presence in his life since he was a child.|
|6||"Hunting"||Sterlin Harjo||Sterlin Harjo||September 6, 2021|
|Willie Jack and her father, Leon, spend a day in the woods together, hunting deer and grappling with their grief over the death of Daniel a year earlier.|
|7||"California Dreamin'"||Tazbah Rose Chavez||Tazbah Rose Chavez||September 13, 2021|
|Elora takes her driver's test, after multiple previous failures. Instead of completing the test, her instructor takes her on a wild ride. He talks about her mother and reveals more details of her death. In a flashback, we discover how Daniel died.|
|8||"Satvrday"||Sterlin Harjo||Migizi Pensoneau||September 20, 2021|
|As the Rez Dogs prepare to leave for California, a tornado approaches. Most of the community takes shelter in the church basement, but Uncle Brownie rides through the streets, looking for the right tools to divert the tornado. Bear's guiding spirit, William Knifeman, appears again, to ask Bear whether he has completed all the tasks he needs to before leaving town. Together in the church, members of the community, including the Rez Dogs and the NDN Mafia, talk to each other and make key decisions about their future.|
The series was first reported on in November 2019 and was confirmed by Taika Waititi on Twitter shortly after. The initial report announced that Waititi would be co-writing the series with Native American filmmaker Sterlin Harjo, who would also share executive producer and directing duties with Waititi. After the pilot had been shot in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, FX announced a series order for the project in December 2020. The casting for the four lead actors, D'Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Devery Jacobs, Paulina Alexis, and newcomer Lane Factor, was also confirmed at this time, alongside a group of guest stars to be featured in the pilot episode. Filming sites for principal photography for season one, which had wrapped by July 2021, included Okmulgee, Tulsa, Sand Springs, Beggs, Inola, and Terlton, all in northeast Oklahoma. On September 2, 2021, FX renewed the series for a second season.
Discussing their creative partnership and respective roles in the production, Waititi stressed, "I really believe people need to tell their own stories and especially from whatever area they are from", leading to Harjo, who is from Oklahoma, taking the lead on the project and Waititi taking a more supporting role. Additionally, many of the storylines in the show are inspired by events from Harjo's childhood.
Part of the development process included casting unknown actors from Indigenous communities, and the young leads in particular forming a working rapport, often around their shared love of Indigenous comedy. Jacobs and Alexis added that they bonded over their mutual appreciation of the sketch comedy group 1491s. Four of the five members of the 1491s worked on season one of the series, and with the addition of Ryan RedCorn to the writers' room for season two, all of the 1491s are now working on Reservation Dogs as writers, actors, or directors.
The series premiered on FX on Hulu in the United States on August 9, 2021. In international markets, it is distributed through the Star portion of the Disney+ streaming service. In Latin America, the series premiered as a Star+ original. In India, all eight episodes of season 1 premiered on Disney+ Hotstar on October 2, 2021.
The series has a 100% rating with an average score of 8.30 out of 10, based on 33 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. The site's critical consensus reads: "Aimless afternoons yield absurd delights in Reservation Dogs, a low-key comedy that deftly captures the malaise of youth and Rez life thanks in no small part to its impressive central crew". On Metacritic, the show has a score of 83 out of 100, based on 19 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".
SanKhayan Ghosh of Film Companion wrote, "Reservation Dogs, on Disney+Hotstar, is rough, rebellious, warm and sincere".
The eight-episode series is notable for two firsts: using an entirely Indigenous creative team (behind-the-scenes and in front of the camera) and shooting its entire season in Oklahoma (never done before for a scripted series).Note: Oklahoma is recognized as Indian Territory, a distinction that was upheld by the 2020 Supreme Court decision, McGirt v. Oklahoma.
Additionally, in the show's all-Native writers' room and main cast, Harjo emphasized how important it is to him that they worked together as a community.