Sundance's miniseries 'The Red Road:' why you should watch

By Ricky Riley,

The Red Road is a Sundance Channel original series that has not received as much press as shows like True Detective, though it’s equally as good, if not better in some areas.

The focus of this show is the interaction between the white New Jersey citizens and the Lenape Indians. The female characters are well developed, the story moves at a very decent pace, and there is no stark difference between good and bad. Everyone is a gray character. Jason Momoa is the star of this show, portrays a shadowy figure named Phillip Kopus who just happens to be a pharmaceutical drug dealer and uninhabited bad-ass. Martin Henderson plays Harold Jensen, a cop in a hard place and tied up with Kopus in a cover up. This six episode miniseries was created by the Prisoners’ scribe Aaron Guzikowski and from a viewer’s point of view you can see that every episode has his touch.

The main plot focuses on a teenage love affair between Kopus’ brother, Junior and Jensen’s daughter, Rachel. Junior and Rachel really love each other but Rachel’s mom has a prejudice against Native Americans because her twin brother died at the hands of a Native American man. Ultimately, the plot is about Kopus and Jensen keeping the public from knowing that Jensen’s wife injured a Native American kid in a hit-and-run in an attempt to keep Rachel away from Junior.

These two families are tearing an entire community to the seams in a racially charged Romeo and Juliet tragedy. In just four episodes, Jensen has lost everything. His wife is diagnosed with schizophrenia, Rachel has gotten closer to Junior as he drifts further into drug dealing, detectives are investigating a case he worked on and Jensen has to play Kopus’ game. Meanwhile, Kopus is on the run now for drug dealing and killing his partner, killing a young white college kid from New York.

This show is visceral storytelling wrapped up in a cinematic drama. The cinematography is beautiful and simple. Some shots are beyond perfection. The show manages to get talented directors to show off this world hiding in plain sight.

The female characters all have their own motivations and are not used as plot devices. They also tend to be the best actors in the show. Kopus’ mother, Marie, Jean Jensen, and Rachel are all interesting characters and they are very similar, having a sickness of sorts. Marie has her duties to her tribe and she has cancer. Jean is suffering from alcoholism and having delusions. Rachel is in love so much that she is abandoning her family and her new role as woman of the house.

The show plays with the idea of duty, secrecy, illness, and love. It is refreshing to see a show with a different perspective and different characters of color. Overall, this show is one to keep a watch out for. The Red Road airs on the Sundance Channel.

Image: Sundance Channel

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