Taika Waititi's new TV series is extremely relatable content. The show is about four indigenous teens living on a dusty reservation in Oklahoma and, while I clearly am not, it's incredibly easy to identify with their plight.
That's because the quartet feel trapped in their home, frustrated by their surroundings and are harbouring big dreams of escape. Having spent the guts of a month in lockdown I can't think of a more relatable premise right now.
Waititi created Reservation Dogs, which is streaming on Star, in partnership with American filmmaker Sterlin Harjo. The pair wrote and produced the series together but it's Harjo who handles directing duties.
This could be because Waititi, one of the hardest working men in showbiz, has returned to space to continue work on his upcoming Thor sequel or it could simply be because the story is largely based on Harjo's experience growing up on a reservation like the one depicted in the show.
Straight from the get-go "the best thieves in town" are off the chain as the show opens with a brazen, and quite funny, daytime heist that sees Elora, Bear, Cheese and Willie hijacking a snack delivery truck from right under the driver's nose. However, their haste and ineptitude see them forgetting to pull up the truck's trolley ramp from off the back before they hoon off.
Fortunately for them, Officer Big, the small town's sole cop, is too wrapped up listening to his conspiracy podcasts to notice the shower of attention-grabbing sparks produced by the metal ramp dragging along the road when they go speeding past.
This is the sort of amusing situation and detailed character quirk that's come to define Waititi's work. Here he and Harjo have populated the small reservation community with people who stay on just the right side of wonderfully weird and wacky and as such remain believable.
There's the Korean doctor growing out a native American style ponytail, a reclusive uncle whose legendary bar fight grows more legendary with each retelling, a shopkeeper who's okay with them shoplifting as long as they tell him what they're stealing so he can keep his books clean, and a pair of bike-riding, rapping twins who seem to know all the goss from the rival gang that's set up shop.
I say gangs here, but really, it's more like teens behaving badly. As an example, a drive-by shooting sees paintballs fired, not real bullets, and a sudden ambush results in a bloody, but not broken, nose. A Mexican stand-off that's about to turn violent is quickly dispersed when one of their mothers shows up.
So while it all sounds high-stakes - grand theft auto, drive-by shooting, gang violence - their hijinks are more a product of teenage boredom and driven by a desire to leave the small reservation.
That's why they've turned to a life of petty crime. They're robbing with a purpose. To save up enough money to escape and travel the almost 2500km to sunny California.
Their self-styled leader Bear - although the others would disagree about that status - prefers the term vigilantes as opposed to criminals. He wants to dignify what they're doing to alleviate the occasional bursts of guilt he feels over stealing copper from the town's lamp lights or nicking an old lady's prescription marijuana lollies from her front door.
This guilt usually sees his conscience manifest itself as the ghost of a native American warrior who appears to give advice steeped in the proud tradition of their people. But rather than a stoic and wise figure he's comic relief, rambling his way around his point before enduring some sort of comedy pratfall.
Which also sums up the tone of the show. Reservation Dogs is amusing rather than hilarious. Its jokes are like a creamy peppercorn sauce that's been drizzled over a serious cut of steak.
But it's not trying to be the next Seinfeld. It's closest in tone and feel to Donald Glover's acclaimed series Atlanta. Another show that was steeped in its sense of place.
The filmmaking pedigree of its creators is also on display, with a cinematic quality not often seen on television. This is amplified by the decision to shoot entirely on location in Oklahoma. And because its cast and production team consisted almost entirely of Indigenous Americans the show feels honest and lands with great authenticity.
Reservation Dogs captures teen spirit, with all its hopes, dreams, innocence and crassness, and its associated boredom perfectly. It's so easy going it's almost a hang out show. And, with Waititi involved, there's plenty for trainspotters of 80s and 90s pop culture to point out.
I won't say you'd be barking mad to miss it but just like a frenzied pitbull once it sinks its teeth into you it's not letting go.