There have been many, many television series using the fish out of water scenario as a key part of its storytelling. And APTN’s Unsettled does it in a very effective way.
Airing Fridays at 8 p.m. Eastern on APTN, Unsettled follows the journey of Rayna Keetch (Cheri Maracle). A victim of the Sixties Scoop—the mass removal of Indigenous children from their families into the child welfare system—Rayna returns to her First Nation for a traditional homecoming ceremony when life throws her a curveball. Her husband, Darryl (Brandon Oakes), loses his business, car and their Toronto home. The result? A short visit turns into something more long-term for Rayna, Darryl and kids Stacia (Michaella Shannon) and Myles (Joshua Odjick).
Created, written and directed by Jennifer Podemski and Derek Diorio (Hard Rock Medical), Unsettled has been in the back of Podemski’s mind for years.
“I built this narrative around this family,” Podemski says. “Really using a lot of my own experiences and my desire to interweave and focus it with an authentic Indigenous lens.” Themes include child welfare, the aforementioned Sixties Scoop, residential schools, loss of identity and substance abuse and Podemski had a circle of advisors on-hand to make sure she got the facts correct.
A truly unique way of framing the story is through Henry (Albert Owl), Rayna’s father and the local radio DJ. Viewers listen to Henry speaking to his audience in Ojibwe, recalling the past while fuzzy, home movie-like visuals roll. It’s very well done.
“These stories are effective because they’re so rarely told,” Podemski says. “My goal was to weave these storylines, but not be an issue-driven show, be a character-driven show that weaves characters that are directly connected to these issues.”
Unsettled airs Fridays at 8 p.m. Eastern on APTN.
Images courtesy of APTN.