NITV doesn’t often spring to mind as a home to episodic drama, but Canadian series Trickster (which has just premiered internationally) is a new addition, with a distinctively indie feel.
It centres around Jared (Joel Oulette) a teenager of Indigenous Haisla heritage -Canada’s First Nation peoples.
Living in the working class, rural town of Kitimat, British Columbia, his daily life consists of high school, working part-time at the local chicken drive-thru, ricocheting between his separated parents and furtively pressing ecstasy pills which he sells on the side…
Illegal habits notwithstanding, he’s otherwise a good-natured kid, who looks out for his partying, out-of-control mother (Crystle Lightning), lends money to his unemployed father and befriends ‘Crashpad’ (Nathan Alexis), a class outcast who is bullied. He is also the class’ “most aspiring under achiever’ -but who can blame him in the logging town of Kitimat?
And did I mention he is also subject to bouts of magic realism?
What’s teased in the opening flashback is an incident around his birth and origins, all of which is a mystery to him. But strange apparitions and talking ravens, precede a visit by Wade (Kalani Queypo) who looks more like someone who should be his father than Phil (Craig Lauzon), whom he has known all his life.
Then there is also the alluring teen Sarah (Anna Lambe) who isn’t afraid to protest at a new gas pipeline threatening to impact on the environment.
There are more than a few restless or even angry characters in this 6 part series adapted from Eden Robinson’s 2017 novel Son of a Trickster.
But what keeps it all together is the dashing Joel Oulette, who never overplays his scenes. So while mom swears “I’ll kill and die for you jelly bean,” in between self-medicating her undiagnosed mental illness, it’s easy to feel empathy for the central character.
Trickster fuses a dysfunctional family with moments of wild fantasy with a hero searching for self. In Canada.
Trickster airs 8:30pm Tuesday on NITV.