September 03, 2006

Hawaii Five-0 and Indians

While working at (two days a week), I watch old movies and TV shows. Among the shows I've been watching lately is Hawaii Five-0. For a '70s cop show, it was better than average, and it holds up well.

One notable aspect of Hawaii Five-0 is that a quarter or so of the characters are Asian. No one comments on this; it's pretty much taken for granted. But even today, it's still remarkable to see Asians playing mechanics, police officers, lawyers, doctors, and judges.

Has a network TV show ever featured this many Indians? I didn't watch Northern Exposure or Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman, but I don't think so. Indians are still limited to singular roles in shows such as Wolf Lake and King of the Hill. They're never just there in the background.

The US population is about 1% Native. If the networks created shows in proportion to the population, there'd be one Native-themed show every three or four seasons. Why hasn't that happened? If several black shows, a few Latino shows, and one semi-Asian show can succeed, why not a Native one?

If the networks deem Indian country too "strange," they could do a hybrid like Hawaii Five-0. Set the show in two towns straddling a reservation border: one white and one Indian. The Indian town could be considered "the wrong side of the tracks," so there'd be ample opportunities for racial, class, and cultural conflicts.

If anyone wants to produce such a show, give me a call. Or as Steve McGarrett might say, "Book him, Danno!"


Anonymous said...

I watched almost all of the episodes of Dr. Quinn. In my view at least, its treatment of Natives and related issues was outstanding. However, other than a few episodes that showed a lot of Indian characters, there was Larry Sellers as Cloud Dancing (11 episodes) and Nick Ramus as Black Kettle (12 episodes). I don't know much about Ramus. IMDB gives little about his life, but most of his minor roles in TV shows are characters with Native-sounding names. The same with Sellers.

Rob said...

I know of Larry Sellars but not Nick Ramus. I probably watched some "Hawks" when it was on, but I didn't recall "Nakia" until you mentioned it. I'll have to add these to my
of TV shows.

I've covered Chakotay at length, of course.

But a show with a recurring Native character, or even a lead character, isn't quite what I'm talking about. I want a show that's steeped in a Native culture, a Native mindset. Even though Hawaii 5-0 starred two white guys, one could argue that it had an Asian-Pacific feel to it.

Rob said...

For more on Hawaii Five-0, see Review of Hawaii Five-0 Remake.