CBC’s Trickster: Trippy Teens, Indigenous Power

Based on the bestselling trilogy of novels by Eden Robinson. Jared is an Indigenous teen struggling to keep his dysfunctional family above water. When he starts seeing strange things – talking ravens, doppelgängers, skin monsters – his already chaotic life is turned upside down.

Trickster is gloriously trippy, in the most lowkey sense: Just as you’re getting into the vibe, Jared does a double-take and you think you saw something wild, but when he looks back it’s gone. And unlike in a typical horror movie, it doesn’t rear its head three seconds later to frighten us. It’s just… gone. Or was it ever there? Is he losing his mind, tripping, or is there actual strange otherworldly stuff happening around him? It’s the undercurrent of the show. As we are made aware of the underbelly of his mom’s past life before he was born, we are given reason to believe there’s a mystical reason for everything that’s happening. But Jared does not have that knowledge. “Is crazy hereditary?” he wonders, and asks, without answer.

The “crazy” he’s referring to is his mom’s schizophrenia, which is portrayed I think very accurately and tenderly. There’s near-constant drug use and drinking from all of the adults in his life, and he’s very often roped into partaking.

It’s cinematic. Really fucking cinematic, every shot. The color grading is beautiful. The overall vibe reminds me of Eyewitness, the setting surrounding locations too. And the scenes at school and between the kids reminds me of Teen Wolf. It’s this nostalgia for shows of this era that put me in the mood for this how, and man am I glad for it. It’s really unusual and entirely unique. The soundtrack has a bunch of cool indigenous artists, a lot of rap.

It’s also… gruesome’s not the right word but: A dog is knocked over by his mom’s car in the start of the first episode. You’ll see a zombie-like creature peel off their own fingernail as their human body degrades. There’s a scene between Jared’s mom and her mother where truths are discussed while the mother skins and slices up a rabbit.

Trickster, set in Canada, is embedded with Indigenous culture; the language, history, and modern activism. Jared’s love interest is passionate about and actively involved in the fight for decolonization and anti-pipeline protests. The cast is diverse, and actually Indigenous. It feels as though there’s a heavy ownvoices vibe on the production side of this show, too.

The main character (played by Joel Oulette) is just… a beautiful boy. In that kind of angelic without the innocence way. He’s mature and responsible, mostly street-smart, but he is still just a kid, and he’s trying so hard to do the best he can, but he’s tangled all up in this mess. His love interest is captivating; Her hair is different every time, proudly repping her heritage and fighting for activism. She’s been moving between foster homes to try find her biological parents. (Anna Lambe, the actress who plays her is awesome and badass and always posting art and clothing made by and for proudly Indigenous people.)

Content warnings: Tons of drug use and drinking, schizophrenic main character may be triggering or upsetting. The adults in his life are obnoxious abusive absentee parenting and taking advantage of him. Abusive stepdad. In episode 3, something is slipped into Jared’s drink.

Bonus content!

I love this list of reasons to watch Trickster, from this tumblr post titled FINALLY AN INDIGENOUS SUPERNATURAL BRUJA SCI-FI MAGICK ALL NATIVE LEADING CAST SERIES!!!!:

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