Humor in Mohawk Girls: the Deft Interweaving of Gender and Race

Jean Sébastien

Abstract


The sitcom Mohawk Girls (2014-2017) calls for a change in racialized and gendered identity models. Mohawk Girls deftly approaches racial issues, often in a serious tone, all the while giving its audience what it expects from a sitcom: witty dialogue, many of which play on issues of gender. Through the analysis of two episodes of the sitcom’s first season, we look at how the show represents issues of race on a reservation and how racialism is part of the community’s unspoken norms. Choosing to produce a sitcom, a genre heavily rooted in white North American culture, comes out as an act of resilience that is manifested by the First Nations’ director and producers. In the analysis of the documentary work of director Tracey Deer, an argument has been made to the effect that this resilience has historical roots in the culture of Hodinöhsö:ni' nations (once referred to as the Iroquois). In order for these communities to adjust to, at times, abrupt changes in their population, adoption of individuals or groups of individuals has long been an important cultural institution. This can be illustrated by the fact that the integration of a neighboring group to the Hodinöhsö:ni' is referred to in the group’s own culture as an adoption where an outside eye might see it as the outcome of a political alliance. The show, through exaggeration and grotesque, takes on the issues of gender and its games of seduction, all the while considering the ambiguous interplay of seduction and domination. These borrowings are helpful in breaching a critical indent into the unwearied oppression that white society imposes on First Nations.

Keywords


sitcom; First Nations; humor; race; gender

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.2421-454X/8398

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