In modern-day Oakland, people of color are becoming as rare as polar bears in the arctic. That’s the idea behind “The North Pole,” the stylish and hilarious web series from the Oakland-based duo of Yvan Iturriaga and Josh Healey, who direct and write along with co-writers Reyna Amaya and Donte Clark. Set in North Oakland, California, from which the series takes its name, “The North Pole” follows three friends as they struggle to stay afloat amidst a rapidly changing neighborhood. In the Season 2 trailer, debuting exclusively below, executive producer Rosario Dawson plays an immigration lawyer with a comically pragmatic attitude.
“I’m excited to be part of this show that’s both outrageously funny and deadly serious — and could not be more timely,” Dawson said of the project, which she backs along with Movement Generation. “At a moment when children are being thrown in cages at the border, and so many of our communities and environments are under attack, ‘The North Pole’ flips the script with radical black and brown characters speaking their unfiltered truth and reclaiming their power. Oh, and it’s freaking hilarious.”
Season 2 picks up following the police confrontation that rocked North Oakland in the Season 1 finale, with fun-loving immigrant Benny Ramirez (Santiago Rosas) locked up and threatened with deportation. When his immigration lawyer (Dawson) convinces him that the best defense is a good offense, Benny decides to run for office against the shady local Sheriff who is trying to deport him. In the process, he becomes the first undocumented immigrant to run for public office in America. Meanwhile, wildfires rage around Northern California, and Nina (Reyna Amaya), Marcus (Donte Clark), and Finn (Eli Marienthal) face their own struggles with major health crises, racist family members, and ridiculously escalating Twitter wars.
“‘The North Pole’ is about recognizing both the ridiculous absurdities and the pain of this crazy soap opera we call America in 2019,” Healey said. “It’s about despite the racism and violence, Benny, Nina, and the crew are fighting back in new, creative, (and yes, sometimes) ridiculous ways. They’re bold. They’re unapologetic. They talk shit all day. And they’re not going down without a fight. And neither should we.”
Independent film in San Francisco has been thriving in recent years, with Boots Riley’s “Sorry to Bother You,” Carlos López Estrada’s “Blindspotting,” and Joe Talbot’s “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” creating a cinema of Bay area displacement in response to the rapidly changing city. “The North Pole” follows in that same tradition, tackling hot button issues like ICE, raging wildfires, and income inequality all with spirit and humor.
“Code switching is a requirement here because hustlers, old hippies, new techies, and activists all rub shoulders daily and unlike other cities you can’t avoid the messed up parts of this country; we have too many homeless, too much violence and the richest city in the world across the bay,” said Iturriaga. “We are eternal underdogs and we love it. In the show we embody that attitude and confront the real villains of today’s America. Like our spirit animal says, ‘Can’t be no Polar Bear scared of the f*cking ICE.'”
The seven-episode season will premiere online on September 10, 2019. Check out the exclusive trailer for Season 2 of “The North Pole” below.