The characters on Mohawk Girls are a bacchanalian bunch. There's a lot of drunken revelry.
There is also sensitivity, humour and a kind of honest rawness you rarely see on Canadian drama or comedy. The series has been like that from the start – gutsy, funny and important.
Mohawk Girls (Tuesday, APTN, 8:30 p.m.) now starts its fifth and final season, a triumph for the creators, Tracey Deer and Cynthia Knight, and for APTN. Almost nothing on Canadian TV over the past few years has been as imaginative, as freewheeling and, at times, bizarre.
Four Indigenous women living on a reserve, and having adventures in love, sex, work and family dynamics. That's the gist. Mostly, things go awry but, sometimes, true love and understanding are established. Often not. If that sounds like a formulaic concoction to you, then you're wrong. Merciless humour is at its core and, frankly, some of the jocular conversations about sex would make your hair stand on end.
The four women have changed but not a lot. There's a circularity to the ending of the series, bringing the characters back to the roots of the show.
There's ambitious, overachieving Zoe (Brittany LeBorgne, who is sublimely good in a very tricky role), who was the staid one at the start and is now in rehab for sex addiction. The misadventures that young woman has endured are, well, of legendary status. The rehab process is both mocked and used deftly to amplify Zoe's real issues with the expectation placed on her by family, community and friends.
Bailey (Jenny Pudavick) was in trouble from the start, as she dated a non-native guy and she's back in that position, the chap having been beaten up by an ex-boyfriend. That incident brings forth scorn from some of her friends who dismiss her boyfriend as the "wussy white guy." Then there's Anna (Maika Harper) who arrived on the Kahnawake reserve in the opening episode of Season 1, got up in lurid leggings and a blingy baseball cap, and was ridiculed by others. She's still trying to fit in, mostly by clinging to guys who want oral sex.
And then there's Caitlin (Heather White), who is perhaps the most complicated of the four, in all her yearnings and propensity for self-destruction, back with Butterhead (Meegwun Fairbrother), which is always her undoing. (Don't get me started about why he's called "Butterhead.") Caitlin is the sort of young woman who us inordinately impressed when a guy makes breakfast for her, even if breakfast is just toast with butter and jam.
In the opening episodes of this final season, there is a fierce amount of drama about dating, drinking, sex, stilettos, tight skirts and brawls on the dance floor. There is sitcom stuff here about unprintable sexual practices and the humour remains zesty, broad and biting. But there's nothing shallow about the shenanigans, really. It's about the occupation by women of a traditionally male space. They're loud and proud, articulate and sometimes hilariously angry. Most of the men are preening fools, unworthy of the attention of these smart, strong women.
Sometimes you want to shout at these women as you watch their antics luring men. You want to tell them to get a grip. But they do that themselves and they do more than sneer at each other – you haven't heard a put-down until you've heard these women.
"I'm Mohawk, we don't do that touchy-feely stuff," says Zoe while in rehab and asked to talk about her feelings. Then she eventually unleashes a scathing amount of anger. That's the entire series in one incident – it's character-driven but loaded, lewd and sometimes anarchic. As some dolt says to a group of the main women in a bar, "You ladies are awesome!" They are, in truth, and Mohawk Girls is a work of exceptional imaginative energy and charm, so watch it now as it takes you breezily toward the edge and the end.