Reservation Dogs has just tied with Succession for the entertainment critics over at TIME Magazine, hailing both as best TV shows of the year, according to a report on Native News. On first look, you might say the only thing they have in common is the caliber of the production and writing in both the multi-awarded FX original and HBO’s runaway megahit.
Upon closer inspection though, the similarities become more evident, with the two shows displaying a mutual curatorial spirit. Where does a series following the misadventures of four young and marginalized Native American teenagers, living in a rural Oklahoma reservation, intersect with the high stakes lives of mega rich family members, struggling to keep a media empire afloat?
On one level they’re both dark lenses into the struggles and heartaches of communities and lives who’re trying to live the American Dream. On another level, they’re equally fringe in their own ways.
Something that makes them extremely attractive or repulsive to certain audiences—one series requires a high degree of upward access, while the other arguably is all downward access. There’s an invariably insular kind of cursing and profanity in both series, too.
How Reservation Dogs is similar to Succession
Still, despite the fact that there was a glaring lack of higher echelon nominations at the recent announcement for the Emmy Awards in July last year (Reservation Dogs only bagged a sound editing nom), TIME’s nod to Sterlin Harjo’s three seasons of Reservation Dogs comes as a great affirmation of how awesome the series has been for spotlighting Native American stories in mainstream media. “We can’t leave it up to Hollywood to give people the opportunity, because they don’t know these people,” Harjo said in an interview with TIME back in 2022 on season 2.
“We are part of this community, and it makes everything better if I bring people along.” Harjo, of Seminole and Muscogee Creek descent, never watered down the kind of storytelling he wanted to express in open defiance of the cultural hegemony that most producers imposed on new shows, especially originals.
“Profane, poignant, and sometimes psychedelic, the series moved fluidly between coming-of-age awkwardness, small-town character comedy, and the spiritual immediacy that comes with growing up with ancient traditions in a place that has seen so many untimely deaths,” wrote TIME about why their choice of Reservation Dogs ties with Succession. Sounds about right.
Bravo, Harjo and co!
You can watch all three seasons of Reservation Dogs on Hulu.