Entertainment

'Reservation Dogs' Is a Revolutionary Hangout Comedy You Really Must Watch

The FX on Hulu series should be at the top of your list.

FX on Hulu
FX on Hulu
FX on Hulu

The FX on Hulu comedy Reservation Dogs starts out with a heist. Four teens who live on a Native American reservation in the fictional town of Okern, Oklahoma steal a truck full of Flaming Flamers chips. They sell the truck to some meth heads and keep the chips for themselves. But that opening is something of a fake out. The new must-watch comedy from creators Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi is not action packed. Instead, it’s a hangout comedy with a dose of magical realism that’s one of the best series airing right now.

At the center of Reservation Dogs are friends Bear (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai), Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis), Cheese (Lane Factor), and Elora (Devery Jacobs), named after the Willow character. A year prior, the fifth member of their cohort died, and in the months since they’ve been running small-time operations with the idea of making enough money so they can eventually go to California. Bear is naive; Elora is cynical. Willie Jack has a sarcastic comeback for every comment, while Cheese has a deep well of empathy that reveals itself as the show goes on.

The central conflict of the episodes involves the appearance of a rival gang who call themselves the Indian Mafia, labeling our protagonists the Rez Dogs. But this war just hovers on the edge of the narrative, popping up occasionally, but mostly serving as a way to explore the day-to-day lives of these characters.

FX on Hulu
FX on Hulu
FX on Hulu

In the second episode, Bear is jumped by the Indian Mafia, and winds up with a bloody nose, which takes him and the Rez Dogs to the local health clinic. As Bear waits for his check-up, trying to avoid his mother, who works at the facility, Elora and Willie Jack try to sell meat pies outside, and Cheese stumbles into an eye doctor appointment. It’s an episode that’s full of little grace notes, like Cheese, with his eyes dilated, befriending an elderly woman who thinks he’s her grandson. It’s also ridiculously funny, finding humor in the very specific bureaucracy of this institution.

Authenticity is a tricky thing to talk about. What is authentic to one is not to another. And for those of us outside a community-as I am writing about Reservation Dogs-it is impossible to say what makes something resonate. At the same time, Reservation Dogs brims with a specificity of place that is rarely seen on television. Unlike Rutherford Falls, another new streaming series that centers on Native American life, Reservation Dogs doesn’t have any white people to pop up as an audience surrogate. Without exposition, it lets this world exist as it is. There’s no need to tour Okern or explain the various roles held by its residents. It just drops viewers into the action and lets them figure it out as they watch.

Similarly, when it borrows from Native American mythology and history, it doesn’t do so by having some figurehead recount these sagas. The fantastical elements of Reservation Dogs exist alongside the veritĂ© stylings. Bear has visions of a warrior who is not Crazy Horse or Sitting Blue, just an anonymous guy from the past. The episode that drops Monday finds Cheese doing a ride along with Big (Zahn McClarnon), the Lighthorse police officer, whose life, we learn, was shaped by the appearance of the Deer Woman, a creature out of various tribes’ legends. When these kinds of figures make appearances in Reservation Dogs, they seem as at home in the fabric of the episodes as anything else. There’s a groundedness to everything on screen that makes the tonal shifts seamless.

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.

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.

Entertainment

Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.

Victoria

Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.

Queensland

BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

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