|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||24|
|Running time||25–30 minutes|
|Original network||FX on Hulu|
|Original release||August 9, 2021 –|
Reservation Dogs is an Indigenous American television series created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi for FX Productions. It's about the lives of four Indigenous teenagers in rural Oklahoma, as they spend their days committing crime and fighting it.
It is the first series to feature all Indigenous writers and directors, along with an almost entirely Indigenous North American cast and production team. It is also the first series to be filmed entirely in Oklahoma. The series premiered on Hulu under FX on Hulu branding on August 9, 2021 (International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples). It was renewed for a second season in 2021 and a third and final season in 2022, which premiered on August 2, 2023.
Reservation Dogs has received widespread critical acclaim and numerous accolades, including a Peabody Award, two Independent Spirit Awards, and nominations for the Critics' Choice Television Awards and Golden Globes, and was named one of the best series of 2021 and 2022 by many critics. In addition, the American Film Institute named it one of the ten best television programs of 2021 and 2022.
The series follows the lives of four Indigenous teenagers in rural Oklahoma, as they spend their days committing crime and fighting it. After the death of their friend Daniel one year prior to the events of the series, the gang wrestles with a desire to move to California, the way Daniel dreamed of doing. But first they need to tie up loose ends in their lives and community and make preparations to leave.
In Season 2, the Rez Dogs are still experiencing grief over the loss Daniel, now compounded by the foursome being broken apart and scattered, and missing each other. The "California dream" does not turn out the way they expected, resulting in more feelings of disappointment and abandonment. While they cope using humor, they also face increasingly more adult challenges. Financial and family responsibilities arise as they continue to try to figure out their lives.
|First released||Last released|
|1||8||August 9, 2021||September 20, 2021|
|2||10||August 3, 2022||September 28, 2022|
|3||10||August 2, 2023||September 27, 2023|
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||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||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 IHS 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||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||4||"What About Your Dad"||Sydney Freeland||Bobby Wilson & Tommy Pico||August 23, 2021|
|Bear's dad, a rapper who goes by the name Punkin Lusty, is hired to perform at the local IHS clinic's Diabetes Awareness Frybread Feast. Clinton is obsessed with Punkin's frybread song and won't stop singing it. Bear spends the California fund buying him a gift made by Auntie B—a beaded medallion of a microphone that strongly resembles a penis. As Rita sadly expects, Punkin calls Bear the day of the show and cancels. Elora is approached by Jackie, leader of the NDN Mafia, about joining their gang. After Bear spends the fund, Elora starts to consider Jackie's offer.|
|5||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||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||7||"California Dreamin'"||Tazbah Chavez||Tazbah 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||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.|
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|9||1||"The Curse"||Sterlin Harjo||Sterlin Harjo & Dallas Goldtooth & Ryan RedCorn||August 3, 2022|
|The gang is scattered, with Elora and Jackie on the road to California and the others in various places around the reservation. Willie Jack blames herself for all their troubles, because in the first season, she took some of Jackie's hair, gave it to a white man in a bar who claimed to be a wizard, and asked him to curse Jackie and the rival gang. Uncle Brownie and everyone she asks all agree that she messed with bad medicine, and now it has come back on her, bringing them all misfortune. She and Cheese set out to gather the items and knowledge to reverse the curse. Elora and Jackie break down on the side of the road and catch a ride with a creepy man. After he turns onto a dirt road, the scared girls attack him and get away, in their haste forgetting their bags and money in his car. They try to steal a vehicle from a homestead and get chased by a truck full of gun-waving rednecks.|
|10||2||"Run"||Sterlin Harjo||Sterlin Harjo & Dallas Goldtooth & Ryan RedCorn||August 3, 2022|
|Elora and Jackie narrowly escape being caught by the rednecks and continue on their way. They are spotted by a friendly white woman, who invites them to her estate, feeding them and putting them up for the night. After nightfall, the girls steal her truck and head back on the road. Back on the reservation, Willie Jack manages to obtain several items that belonged to Jackie and she, Cheese, Uncle Brownie, and Bucky head down to the river to break free of the curse. William "Spirit" Knifeman (only visible to Uncle Brownie) arrives to sing with them, then announces that they have vanquished the curse, as long as they treat each other right going forward. Bear skulks around town, trying to find a job.|
|11||3||"Roofing"||Erica Tremblay||Sterlin Harjo & Chad Charlie||August 10, 2022|
|Bear gets a job working on a small roofing crew with three other men, then is surprised when Daniel's father turns out to be one of the crew. He is teased by the workers but, after an initial reluctance to talk to him, shares an intimate conversation with Daniel's father, who is also full of regret and shame about Daniel's death. At the end of the day, Bear makes money and is proud to be able to help his mom pay the bills. Later in his room, Elora shows up at the window in tears, saying that her grandmother is dying.|
|12||4||"Mabel"||Danis Goulet||Sterlin Harjo & Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs||August 17, 2022|
|Elora's grandmother, Mabel, is dying. Friends and relatives gather at her bedside to pray and sing in Mvskoke, conduct ceremony, and offer support to Elora. Jackie is also present, awkwardly negotiating a setting where she feels unwelcome. Elora's aunt and her friends reminisce about Elora's mother, Cookie, and how after her death their friend group scattered, their lives changed forever and their relationships were never the same. At Elora's request, Cheese leads a prayer. William "Spirit" Knifeman shows up to eat the spirit offerings and wait for Mabel to finish dying so he can take her to "orientation". After Mabel dies, Elora sees her as a spirit.|
|13||5||"Wide Net"||Tazbah Chavez||Tazbah Chavez||August 24, 2022|
|The Aunties, (lifelong friends Bev, Natalie, Rita, and Teenie) go on "the closest thing to a vacation" they get—a wild trip to the yearly Indian Health Service (IHS) conference, where they meet up with Natives from all over the country. They party and set out to make sexual conquests, with variable results. In a flashback, we see them as girls growing up together, before their friend Cookie (Elora's mom) died, learning a dance they later try to recreate on the dance floor. With his mom gone, Bear throws a party at home.|
|14||6||"Decolonativization"||Tazbah Chavez||Erica Tremblay||August 31, 2022|
|As punishment for throwing the party, Bear's mother makes him attend the Native American Reclamation and Decolonization Symposium Youth Summit (NARDS) at the IHS Clinic. Clinton has hired two alleged online influencers—strange youth who proceed to go on and on about themselves, claiming to be a "Young Elder" and a "Matriarch". The duo's wild claims and mismatched regalia elicit a skeptical response from the audience, many of whom get up to leave. Those who stay in hopes of free food are led through exercises the "influencers" claim are traditional and acts of "decolonization", yet seem to just be rebranded corporate-retreat trust-building activities. Bear reaches out to Elora but is disappointed when he sees her with Jackie. Willie Jack also continues to reject Jackie, often in painful, personal ways. Other members of the NDN Mafia participate more enthusiastically in the symposium, even pairing with members of the Rez Dogs in the trust-building exercises. Bear and Elora grow even more distant.|
|15||7||"Stay Gold Cheesy Boy"||Blackhorse Lowe||Bobby Wilson||September 7, 2022|
|Cheese and Charley are apprehended in a raid by Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Cheese not knowing why. It's implied the cops find cannabis plants in the house. Until his guardianship can be sorted out, Cheese is sent to a group home run by Gene, who is "awkward, self-centered, incompetent, and, most troubling for Cheese, dedicated to an addiction-recovery plan that involves appropriating a mishmash of Native American spiritual and cultural practices." Gene forces the Native and Black youth to attend "recovery" circles, despite the fact that, unlike Gene, they are not addicts. Though the environment is stressful and oppressive, Cheese bonds with the other youth, talking openly for the first time about his relationship with Daniel. Meanwhile, Jackie, who witnessed the arrests, puts aside her shyness and hurt and goes to tell the Rez Dogs. United in the face of crisis, they come up with plans to free Cheese. Cheese's relentless kindness results in his community coming to his rescue: Big arrives to free him from the group home, and Irene, the elder he met at the clinic, takes him in as her adopted grandson. Cheese's friends welcome him home, including Jackie, who helped free him.|
|16||8||"This is Where the Plot Thickens"||Blackhorse Lowe||Blackhorse Lowe & Sterlin Harjo||September 14, 2022|
|Lighthorseman Big is dispatched to investigate a stolen shipment of catfish. He argues that he should instead investigate a recent bigfoot sighting, but he complies with orders and heads to the salvage yard to check on the "methheads" there. Thinking he's drinking one of their sodas, Big is accidentally dosed with the strong psychedelics they manufacture. Having never done drugs, he is wracked with guilt and has a rough experience, full of vivid hallucinations, including the traumatic memory of Cookie's death, for which he blames himself. Despite finding Kenny Boy deeply irritating, Big winds up having to rely on him for support, as Kenny is experienced with hallucinogens. The two, tripping heavily, stumble upon masked and robed white supremacists doing a grotesque ritual in front of a giant owl effigy in the forest, involving petroleum oil and sexual penetration of decapitated catfish, while chanting that they are the true owners of Native land. Big and Kenny attempt to arrest the cultists, but are assaulted by the white supremacists' security and held captive. Deer Lady arrives and frees them, enabling Big to call for backup. The obscene Catfish cult – which includes the Governor and other powerful local men – is arrested and exposed in the media. While Big still finds Kenny embarrassing, they wind up forming an awkward bond. During the closing credits, a bigfoot meanders across the screen, but an exhausted Big doesn't notice.|
|17||9||"Offerings"||Sterlin Harjo||Migizi Pensoneau||September 21, 2022|
|Willie Jack and Bear will soon graduate from high school. Their teacher returns to them the letters they wrote, as freshmen, to their future selves. She gives Willie Jack Daniel's letter. Unread letter in hand, feeling that the Rez Dogs are "in darkness" and not connecting with one another, she seeks advice from Daniel's mother, her auntie Hokti who is in prison. Hokti, a medicine woman, has been neglecting her practice and is being pestered to get back to it by an annoyingly cheerful and chatty ancestral spirit, Gram. Hokti is bitter, and reluctant to see Willie Jack, who reminds her too much of Daniel. Eventually she agrees to pray with Willie Jack. A large group of ancestral spirits appear and gather around them in support. Willie Jack feels their presence, crying with recognition as Hokti tells her that they "come from generations of medicine people, healers," and that "this is the power we carry." She tells Willie Jack that Willie Jack doesn't need her, she needs "this" – her people. While Hokti also advises her that you cannot help people who don't want to be helped, Willie Jack is determined to help her friends the way Hokti has helped her. Back at home, Willie Jack tries to lead the Rez Dogs through the same prayer, but it doesn't work. They don't feel it. They are still drifting apart. She gives them Daniel's letter. As they all read it, the Rez Dogs resolve that they will do something that he had wanted to do. If they will stay together after that, they don't know. But this one thing they will do, together, "for Daniel."|
|18||10||"I Still Believe"||Sterlin Harjo||Tommy Pico||September 28, 2022|
|We now hear Daniel's letter. He wanted to drive to California and see the ocean with his crew: Bear, Willie Jack, Elora and Cheese. He was in love with Elora. The Rez Dogs, with the help of Jackie, sneak into the salvage yard to steal back Elora's grandmother's car. They are caught in the act by Kenny. But he is philosophical about it all – as he sees it, they are simply borrowing the car, and will pay him back when they can – in the next life if that's the way it works out. Kenny tries to relate to them with a quote from Dances with Wolves, but they find him confusing. With Elora at the Wheel, they drive to California. On the way, they decide they will take Daniel's letter to the ocean. Eventually they reach Los Angeles. But while in a restaurant, their car, with all their money and belongings – including the letter – is stolen. White Jesus appears, and says he will guide them to the ocean; he leads them to a homeless encampment, where they stop for the night until it is raided by police. In the dawn, they walk five more miles to the sea. At the water, they draw on their experiences of the past season and Willie Jack sings a new version of the song they sang at the river, this time to free them from their grief and despair. She asks Cheese to lead a prayer and he speaks powerfully about Daniel. In the water, crying and hugging, Daniel joins them as a spirit. They are united in their love for one another. When they are done and return to the shore, Elora says she needs to return the car to Kenny. Bear tells the others he's not going back.|
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|19||1||"BUSSIN'"||Danis Goulet||Sterlin Harjo & Dallas Goldtooth||August 2, 2023|
|The Rez Dogs are still in California, stranded with no car and no money. They try to get help from Bear's dad, but an irritated white woman with two Native children answers the door and says he's not home. Bear leaves a sad and angry goodbye note, and the beaded medallion he commissioned, for his dad. Bear's auntie, Teenie, arrives to bring the kids back to Oklahoma by bus. At a rest stop, Bear is in the restroom being advised by spirit guide William Knifeman and misses the bus. With a dead cellphone and no money or transportation, Bear wanders off into a field, accompanied only by Knifeman, whose monologues Bear finds increasingly long-winded and confusing. Bear is frustrated and worried he's going to die out there. Meanwhile, on the bus and unaware Bear was left behind, Teenie shocks Elora by mentioning that Elora's dad is still alive. Teenie is friends with him on social media and he's white.|
|20||2||"Maximus"||Tazbah Chavez||Tazbah Chavez||August 2, 2023|
|Bear is lost, without food or water, in the harsh sun on the plains. A Spanish conquistador spirit attacks him. William Knifeman saves him, but an overwhelmed Bear yells at his spirit guide to leave him alone. Knifeman sheds one tear and leaves. Bear is then shot with a tranquilizer dart by Maximus – a dune buggy-driving, mohawked, eccentric recluse who studies star maps, monitors radio frequencies, and is growing eggplants "for when the star people return." Maximus is violently opposed to outsiders, but takes a liking to Bear, and shows him around his compound. Maximus tells Bear that he also sees spirits, and because of that people either fear them, or are jealous. He tells Bear that because no one, not even his friends, believed what he saw was real, he was locked up and given shock treatments. When Bear says his friends believe him, Maximus is angry, because he feels that Bear has nothing to complain about. Maximus shows Bear home movies of himself and his friends back in the 1970s, when he lived on the same reservation Bear is from. The group seems pretty similar to Bear's Rez Dogs, and one of them is Elora's Uncle Brownie. Maximus points to his younger self and says he reminds him of Bear. Eventually the police and healthcare workers come to the property and take Maximus away peacefully. After watering the eggplants, Bear heads back to Oklahoma.|
|21||3||"Deer Lady"||Danis Goulet||Sterlin Harjo||August 9, 2023|
|Deer Lady stops at a diner. Bear arrives at the diner, still penniless and lost, but polite to everyone even though they do not help him. Deer Lady observes him for a while and then invites him to sit with her. She shares her food with him and offers him a ride back to Oklahoma. When he realizes who she is, he is frightened, but does not run. Through flashbacks, we learn that when this incarnation of Deer Lady was still human, she was a child at a horribly abusive American Indian boarding school, where she witnessed her friends being beaten. One night she managed to escape and fled for her life. She was saved in the woods by an otherworldly deer, becoming the Deer Lady, and now she exacts vengeance on abusers. Bear goes with her and waits in the truck while she goes into the home of the abusive man who ran the boarding school. Bear is worried, but ultimately he approves of her seeking justice for herself and the other children of the school. Together they drive back to Okern, and Bear finally returns home.|
|22||4||"Friday"||Tazbah Chavez||Erica Tremblay||August 16, 2023|
|At the IHS Clinic, the Rez Dogs are punished for running away to California. Willie Jack and Cheese have to clean up graffiti Willie Jack painted on the IHS building. She talks to Old Man Fixico while Cheese cleans. Fixico says he has no one to pass his medicine ways on to when he dies. Willie Jack says she's interested in learning. Cheese remembers to pick up his glasses from his exam in season 1. He is amazed at how much clearer the world looks now. Elora cleans with Willie Jack's dad, who offers her a job. But Elora is thinking of going back to school. She gets her records and learns the name of her birth father. Even though she didn't go to California, Auntie Bev makes Jackie join the cleaning crew with Bear. As Bev and Rita watch them interact, Bev becomes convinced Bear and Jackie are going to get together and have a baby. Bev then flirts ostentatiously with Big.|
|23||5||"House Made of Bongs"||Blackhorse Lowe||Tommy Pico and Sterlin Harjo||August 23, 2023|
|It's 1976 in Okern. Maximus, Brownie, Bucky, Irene, and Mabel are all students at the same boarding school attended by Deer Lady in episode 3, but now there are sports teams and some Indian teachers. It's the end of the school year. Maximus (who prefers to be called Cvpon) is filming his friends, making the home movies we saw in episode 2. They all go to a party by a lake where they smoke pot, drink, and take LSD. They talk about what they want for their older selves. Maximus has never taken LSD before and is very altered. Fixico arrives and is very popular. He has recently begun his training as a medicine man and Maximus is jealous. Fixico tries to make peace with Maximus but fails. Driving home, Maximus has his first encounter with the star people. But no one believes him.|
|24||6||"Frankfurter Sandwich"||Blackhorse Lowe||Bobby Wilson and Sterlin Harjo||August 30, 2023|
|25||7||"Wahoo!"||Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs||Migizi Pensoneau||September 6, 2023|
|26||8||"Send It"||Erica Tremblay||Sterlin Harjo and Ryan RedCorn||September 13, 2023|
|27||9||"Elora's Dad"||Sterlin Harjo||Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs||September 20, 2023|
|28||10||"Dig"||Sterlin Harjo||Chad Charlie & Sterlin Harjo||September 27, 2023|
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, also filmed on location in Okmulgee.
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 and actors, directors, or producers. On September 22, 2022, FX renewed the series for a third season. Harjo announced on June 29, 2023, that the show would end with the third season.
The series premiered on FX on Hulu in the United States on August 9, 2021. In international markets, it is distributed through the Star hub 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 made its cable TV premiere on FX in the United States on June 26, 2023.
|1||98% (61 reviews)||84 (22 reviews)|
|2||100% (35 reviews)||93 (16 reviews)|
|3||100% (22 reviews)||94 (15 reviews)|
All three seasons of Reservation Dogs have received critical acclaim. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the overall series holds a 99% rating. Meanwhile, on Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, the overall series received a score of 89 out of 100.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the first season received a "Certified Fresh" approval rating of 98% with an average score of 8.2 out of 10, based on 61 reviews. 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, it received a score of 84 out of 100, based on 22 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim."
Writing for The Guardian, Ellen E Jones gave the show a rating of 5 out of 5 and said, "Reservation Dogs is able to lay waste stylishly to centuries of myth and misrepresentation due to one simple, crucial, innovation: almost everyone involved in the production is a Native American, offering a perspective which never panders to the often-fetishising gaze of outsiders. Instead, this show tells of the push-pull of home: that simultaneous yearning to both belong and be free." Candice Frederick of TV Guide rated the series 4 out of 5, based on the first four episodes and said, "Though it wrestles with some heavy, but not overtly political, themes, Reservation Dogs seems to mostly have fun with young life on a reservation." In another 4 out 5 rating, Alan Sepinwall, writing for Rolling Stone, said, "a show like Reservation Dogs feels long overdue. And this exact show? It's awfully good." Paste magazine's Allison Keene gave a rating of 9.2 out of 10 and called the series "a perfect summer series, one that takes places on languid afternoons and moves at an unhurried pace."
Reviewing the first two episodes, Danette Chavez of The A.V. Club gave it a "B+" and said, "Reservation Dogs is already on track to be one of the best comedies (and shows) of the year." Kristen Lopez of IndieWire also gave it a grade of "B+", saying, "[Reservation Dogs] is a surprising series that illustrates why everyone's story is worth telling" and also praised the four main actors, stating that "the teens assembled here are all fantastic, conveying so much about their characters' true selves even if they don't know it yet." Vox's Emily St. James also praised the main actors, calling them "one of the best ensembles of teen characters in recent memory" and regarded the first season as "one of the best first seasons of a comedy in some time." Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter also praised the cast as well as the "triumph" representation of the Native Americans.
The New Yorker's Doreen St. Félix wrote, "Reservation Dogs is a mood piece, and a sweet one, a collection of intertwined and poetic portraiture that focuses not solely on the central cast". Daniel D'Addario of Variety said, "Reservation Dogs is a lovely, eminently watchable triumph. It's an overdue tribute to a sort of community it doesn't mythologize. Instead, the show treats the reservation and its residents on their own terms, as worthy of being explored for just what it is, and just who they are." Polygon's Joshua Rivera praised the series, saying, "like a lot of great art, Reservation Dogs challenges its audience with wit and style to look in spaces that have long been ignored, and identify with experiences that are outside their own." Writing for IGN, Matt Fowler said, "Reservation Dogs features characters we like, a community we're drawn to (and may be curious about)." Esther Zuckerman of Thrillist praised the series' tone, stating that "Reservation Dogs is at times melancholy, and at times deeply irreverent. But whatever mood it's going for at any given moment, it's some of the most unique, enjoyable, and artistically satisfying television available to watch."
The American Film Institute named it one of the ten best television programs of the year.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the second season holds a "Certified Fresh" approval rating of 100%, with an average score of 9.1 out of 10, based on 35 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads: "Reservation Dogs has bittersweet bite in its sophomore season as it mines more difficult dilemmas than before with its spiky sense of humor, making for a piquant portrait of a community and a place." On Metacritic, it holds a score of 93 out of 100, based on 16 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".
Critics were given the first four episodes prior to its premiere to review. It received an "A" from Manuel Betancourt of The A.V. Club and Chase Hutchinson of Collider, an "A-" from Darren Franich of Entertainment Weekly and Brian Tallerico of The Playlist, and a "B+" from Kristen Lopez of IndieWire. Betancourt highlighted the way it treats dark materials, such as generational trauma, wounding grief, and systemic inequities, with "winsome humor", without going too far. Hutchinson praised the writing, humor, and performances, particularly Jacobs' and Woon-A-Tai's. Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter also praised the performances and further singled out Jacobs', particularly in the episode "Mabel". Kristen Reid of Paste gave it a 9.3 out of 10 and said, "Just a season and a half in, Harjo and co-creator Taika Waititi have already found their groove with Reservation Dogs. Inviting us onto the reservation to experience it with this group of quickly beloved kids, [It] feels like a celebration of Native life and a way to inspire change for the better."
Variety's Caroline Framke wrote in her favorable review: "for the hundreds of shows premiering every year, there's still simply nothing else on TV quite like 'Reservation Dogs'. [It] gives voice, time, and flawed dirtbag humanity to Indigenous Americans, who have long been little more onscreen than one-note punchlines. But it also does so with an approach that could only have come from these writers, actors, directors and production crew members. This is a show so self-assured in its own voice and perspective that it's not just gratifying to watch, but a welcome relief." Joe Keller of Decider summarized his review by saying, "Reservation Dogs improves on its excellent first season by deepening the community on the rez, making it less about the Dogs and more about traditions, people who think they know the traditions but don't, and just how funny and rich life there can be, even if people have to be creative to get by."
For the season finale, TVLine named Woon-A-Tai, Jacobs, Factor and Alexis the "Performers of the Week" for the week of October 1, 2022. The site wrote: "No single actor outshined the others; rather, it was their combined chemistry and the characters’ reliance on each other that made us laugh at their antics and reel in their heartbreak. [...] Jacobs exhibited a wealth of vulnerability in her body language and diction as Elora admitted her fear of letting Daniel go. Woon-A-Tai was brought to tears, as Bear was consumed by love for his friends. Alexis displayed a wealth of fortitude as Willie Jack proved to be both the Dogs' safety net and comedic relief. And after they joined together for a prayer, Factor quivered and choked on his emotions as Cheese revealed his lingering anger."
Like the first season, the American Film Institute named it one of the ten best television programs of the year.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the third and final season holds an approval rating of 100%, with an average score of 9.4 out of 10, based on 22 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads: "Bowing out while still having plenty of creativity to spare, Reservation Dogs' final season sidesteps feeling premature by satisfying on every level." On Metacritic, it holds a score of 94 out of 100, based on 15 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".
|American Film Institute Awards||Top 10 Programs of the Year||Reservation Dogs||Won|||
|Gotham Awards||Breakthrough Series – Short Form||Won|||
|Outstanding Performance in a New Series||Devery Jacobs||Nominated|
|American Film Institute Awards||Top 10 Programs of the Year||Reservation Dogs||Won|||
|Artios Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Casting – Television Pilot and First Season Comedy Series||Angelique Midthunder, Jennifer Schwalenberg, Chris Freihofer, Stacey Rice, Lisa Zambetti||Nominated|||
|Critics' Choice Awards||Best Comedy Series||Reservation Dogs||Nominated|||
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy||Nominated|||
|Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards||Best Streaming Series, Comedy||Nominated|||
|Best Directing in a Streaming Series, Comedy||Sterlin Harjo (for "Hunting")||Nominated|
|Best Writing in a Streaming Series, Comedy||Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi (for "Fuckin' Rez Dogs")||Nominated|
|Hollywood Music in Media Awards||Best Music Supervision — Television||Tiffany Anders||Nominated|||
|Independent Spirit Awards||Best New Scripted Series||Reservation Dogs||Won|||
|Best Ensemble Cast in a New Scripted Series||Paulina Alexis, Funny Bone, Lane Factor, Devery Jacobs,
Zahn McClarnon, Lil Mike, Sarah Podemski, and D'Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai
|Peabody Awards||Entertainment||Reservation Dogs||Won|||
|Television Critics Association Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Comedy||Nominated|||
|Outstanding New Program||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America Awards||New Series||Tazbah Rose Chavez, Sydney Freeland, Sterlin Harjo, Migizi Pensoneau, Tommy Pico, Taika Waititi, and Bobby Wilson||Nominated|||
|Episodic Comedy||Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi (for "F*ckin' Rez Dogs")||Nominated|
|Critics' Choice Awards||Best Comedy Series||Reservation Dogs||Nominated|||
|Best Actor in a Comedy Series||D'Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a Comedy Series||Devery Jacobs||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series||Paulina Alexis||Nominated|
|Golden Trailer Awards||Best Billboard (for Feature Film or TV/Streaming Series)||"Extension Billboard" (AV Print)||Nominated|||
|Best Comedy Poster for a TV/Streaming Series||"One Sheet" (AV Print)||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America Awards||Episodic Comedy||Tazbah Rose Chavez (for "Wide Net")||Nominated|||
|Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) and Animation||Patrick Hogan, David Beadle, Sonya Lindsay, Michael Sana, Daniel Salas, Amber Funk, Lena Krigen (for "This is Where the Plot Thickens")||Pending|||
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: A significant portion of 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.
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