Wanting to escape your hometown is the birthright of every young person.
For some, however — like the four teenagers on an Oklahoma reservation in FX's coming-of-age comedy "Reservation Dogs" — the idea of home, whom it belongs to and who belongs to it, is more complicated.
The push away from home and the pull toward it form the dynamic that powers "Reservation Dogs." The terrific first season focused on the urge to get away; the second, which launched on Hulu Wednesday, looks at what it takes to rediscover your home.
In the pilot, a self-styled gang of four (the show's title comes from their nickname, a reference to the Quentin Tarantino film "Reservoir Dogs") is introduced in the midst of jacking a snack-chips truck. The plan is to raise money, head to California and leave behind the reservation that they blame for the suicide of their friend Daniel (Dalton Cramer).
Like many improvised schemes, this takes some turns, and the season fleshes out the kids in a laid-back, observant character piece. Elora (Devery Jacobs) is a walking heartbreak who feels Daniel's loss especially heavily (we learn eventually that it was she who found his body). Bear (D'Pharoah Woon-A-Tai) is a lanky boy stumbling toward being the man he outwardly appears to be. Cheese (Lane Factor) is deadpan and thoughtful; Willie Jack (an instantly winning Paulina Alexis) has a prodigiously foul mouth and a loyal heart.
California is less a concrete destination for them than an idea, a stand-in for "not here." But "Reservation Dogs" is deeply in touch with the feel and flavor of the here that it portrays.
The creators, Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi, produced a story about Indigenous people by Indigenous people, shot on location in Oklahoma, with the nubbly texture of great regional TV. (It's both a welcome example of TV paying attention to rural life and a reminder that "rural" is not a synonym for "white.") It's steeped in lore, lifeways and pop history; a Season 1 episode delves into the myth of the avenging Deer Lady and the career of the Native American '70s band Redbone.
The new season leans a few notches closer to the drama side of dramedy, but there's still plenty of laid-back humor. In the second episode, Willie Jack and Cheese turn to Uncle Brownie (Gary Farmer), an elder who dispenses advice and decades-old weed, for help in lifting a curse. He stumbles his way through a ceremony, which he says needs to conclude with "an old song." He pauses and summons up music from within — "Free Fallin'," by Tom Petty. ("It's like 30 years. That's old!")
Like the spirit, "Reservation Dogs" believes any of its characters are capable of magic, not just the literal, meteorological kind. Everyone, even a screw-up, has power and responsibility as part of a larger community. You can get a prophecy from a drunk sitting at a bar or wisdom from a guy getting his hair cut on the porch.
You can also, sometimes, catch a glimpse of enlightenment while doing a day's work. In the new season, Bear takes a construction job and finds himself working next to Daniel's father, Danny (Michael Spears), raising uncomfortable memories for both of them. Bear nearly tumbles off a rooftop trying to grab some loose shingles, but Danny catches him.
"First rule of roofing," says Danny. "Don't chase it if it's already falling."
It's a lesson that Bear and all his friends are trying to learn: How to know what to let go, and how to save what matters.