The North Pole — the sprawling, low-budget web series centered around the lives of three best friends, all born-and-raised in Oakland — is officially back for Season Two. And this time around, the diverse cast of actors and writers are steadfast on pressing one hot button topic, above any other: immigration... in a Trump-led America.
In its first season's seven episodes, as written on by SFist, The North Pole set the grounds for the left-of-center comedy series: “[The show] hits on our generation's most urgent social issues: Gentrification. Global warming. And gluten-free donuts,” per their official Facebook Page.
The slap-your-knee comedy’s inaugural season was, too, brimming with lauded cameos (W. Kamau Bell, Boots Riley, Mistah Fab) offering a deep-dive into global warming and climate change.
However, for the web series' second season run — which was shown to a sold-out crowd at the Great Lake Theatre before going live to the general public — it is going all-in on immigration, nodding at recent I.C.E raids and the visceral gutting of political safety previously secured for DACA DREAMers, as it follows Benny (Santiago Rosas), a recently “outed” illegal immigrant.
Another reason for the season’s deep dive into cultural xenophobia and the struggles faced by modern-day immigrants? Director Yvan Iturriaga’s Berkley High School friend in the late 90s experienced a near-mirror-like situation, which still lingers with the Oakland-based multi-hyphenated talent.
"[My friend from El Salvador] used to lie to us that he was Puerto Rican, but 20 years later he got arrested and he had to tell us that he’s undocumented," Iturriaga — who also spent a chunk of his childhood living in extended Chilean exile communities throughout Latin America — said of his high school classmate to KQED’s Nastia Voynovskaya. "It's a process for a lot of people, especially if you've been here since you were five years old."
But Iturriaga wasn’t the only one primed to put a spotlight on social justice; the show’s lead writer, Josh Healey, was just as keen.
“Right now when we’re facing so much anti-immigrant hatred and environmental racism in this country, we wanted to make a show about four best friends who were fighting back in brilliant, creative, and yes sometimes ridiculous, ways,” said Healey to Teen Vogue in a profile of the show's executive producer and on-screen immigration lawyer for Benny, Rosario Dawson. “They say not all heroes wear capes, right? [...] that’s what The North Pole is all about. Laughter and liberation.”
Speaking of Dawson, her portrayal as the legal aid to Benny is one of worthy of great praise, gifting viewers an unapologetic, tongue-in-cheek depiction of a post-2016 America, all while offering bits of dry humor to break up the serious nature of the topic.
(A quasi spoiler alert: Benny’s friends and immigration lawyer manage to sway him to put his name in the proverbial hat, in a bid to become the Alameda County sheriff, a strong middle-finger to the incumbent who signed his deportation papers.)
“It's critical to look at these issues with humor and love and light so that we’re not so overwhelmed, and so that we can actually make the changes we want to see,” Rosario added in that same Teen Vogue piece, authored by Bianca Betancourt. “So much of how people are struggling with these issues are under the stress of hatred and fear, and that is immobilizing. We have to start with asking questions, being willing to learn, and coming at it with love.”
The new season of The North Pole, produced by Movement Generation, is now streaming (for free!) on thenorthpoleshow.com. Watch the seasons minute-and-change trailer, below, to prepare yourself for the binge-watch.
Photo: Courtesy of Instagram, via @thenorthpoleshow