TV Review: Trickster is Pure Magic

Is style more important than substance? Trickster, the latest Canadian show to be imported to countries around the world as a result of the pandemic, answers that question with an astounding amount of diplomacy and balance. The ending result is a show that is extremely well written, clever, and downright trippy.

Having already premiered in the UK in late 2020, Trickster made its US debut in January of 2021 on The CW network. The decision to distribute the show on The CW also deserves some recognition because Trickster so eloquently embodies many of the themes that have been woven into the DNA of the network. If you’re looking for something with a supernatural mystery, family drama, and a respectable—yet mature dash of teenage angst, look no further.

The show follows the misadventures of an indigenous teen as he tries to care for his divorced parents who each come with their own load of baggage. Joel Oulette shines in his first TV role as our young lead and genuinely impresses as his character grapples with the complexity of being “the parent” to his parents. True, we’ve seen elements of this sort of character before in countless other dramas and movies, but none of them have been rooted in the culture of Indigenous people. That alone makes Trickster stand out as truly one of a kind.

Left to right: Crystle Lightning, Kalani Queypo, Anna Lambe, Joel Oulette, Nathan Alexis, Georgina Lightning

Speaking of culture, Trickster never smacks the audience over the head with its backdrop. Instead it naturally eases you into its world with a slow build up of suspense and mystery that feels totally appropriate in the municipality of Kitimat. However, one of Trickster’s strongest elements is its tone. Underscored by Electric powwow (or powwow step), the music adds a layer of depth that invokes Indigenous heritage in a modern fashion. To be blunt, many of the tracks in the pilot episode are just freaking cool.

Red Skin Girl (remix) by A Tribe Called Red

For those that need a comparison, Trickster feels like it has taken some of its influence from HBO’s Euphoria. To its credit, the Zendaya starer was applauded by showing the lives of real teenagers, but some thought that it maybe missed the mark. In a 2019 Vice article, teenagers were asked if Euphoria was realistic with one respondent saying, “When it really comes down to it, I think its trying a little too hard to be relatable”. Even against a backdrop of mysticism and the supernatural, Trickster still manages to feel very grounded. Not giving away the plot, there are multiple scenes that depict drug use throughout the pilot. But these scenes never feel embellished with fancy camera manipulation or colored filters. Instead, they are treated with a level of realism that leans into the mental health aspect of addiction which is a refreshing take.

With only 6 episodes, Trickster looks to be a fun, compact, and intriguing story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. To see where you can watch Trickster, check your local listings.