In "Outside Looking In: Viewing First Nations Peoples in Canadian Dramatic Television Series" Mary Jane Miller traces the evolution of perceptions of 'Indians' in series television over 50 years. The series examined are "Radisson" (1957); "Forest Rangers" and other children's series in the 60s and early 70s; "Beachcombers" which shows Jesse Jim growing from teenager to husband and step father; "Spirit Bay" the first to have a First Nations' cast; "The Rez", a late 90s serio-comic look at young adults; and, the six seasons and five movies of "North of 60" whose complex characters deal with stubborn problems like alcoholism, lack of jobs, the aftermath of residential schools even as they create rewarding relationships. Recent scholarship in ethnography and popular culture studies throws light on both what these series present and what is missing; how various long-standing issues are raised and framed differently over time; and, what new issues appear. This book analyses the narrative arcs, characterizations, dialogue, issues and themes. It looks at how inflections of familiar genres like family adventure, soaps, sitcoms and cop shows shape both the series and viewers' expectations.
Mary Jane Miller is professor emerita, Brock University, and author of Rewind and Search: Conversations with the Makers and Decision-Makers of CBC Television Drama and Turn of the Contrast: CBC Television Drama since 1952.