What do evil-looking polar bears and the North Pole have to do with Oakland, California?
Well, “The North Pole”, a new comedic web series, can explain. Focused on three best friends born and raised in North Oakland, CA, the show is about their struggles to stay rooted as their neighborhood turns into a place where people of color are an “endangered species”.
According to the show’s website, “Across seven outrageous episodes, Nina, Marcus, and Benny fight, dream, and plot hilarious schemes to save the place they call home. Facing both gentrification and global warming, they combat evil landlords, crazy geoengineering plots, and ultimately each other.”
“We wanted to challenge those false narratives that Latinos and younger people don’t care about climate change; people of color and Latinos are not victims or bystanders but are multilayered and powerful protagonists,” the series’ director, Chilean-American Yvan Iturriaga, told NBC News. “It’s easier and more acceptable to (show) that if you approach it as a comedy.”
The name of the show pays homage to North Oakland’s nickname in the 1990s and 200s, which was, you guessed it: the North Pole. Those who grew up in the area called themselves Polar Bears, so it makes sense that the people who witness the changes in their beloved neighborhood become mad Polar Bears.
Gentrification is all too common for Black communities around the country, while land, climate and safety issues disproportionally plague communities of color, because they’re more likely to live in areas with contaminated water, polluted air and lead-laced homes.
“It’s hella funny and hella relevant. I love how (the series) incorporates comedy with serious issues like gentrification,” said Reyna Amaya, the 33-year-old comedian, actress and voice over artist who plays Nina, a high school science teacher. “Gentrification is part of my personal story. My mom couldn’t afford a house in San Francisco, so we had to move to Oakland when I was in middle school.”
With Spike Lee-esque imagery, high quality videography and relatable storylines, the show has all of the elements of a hit. It actually feels like it should be streaming on Netflix or Hulu right now.
The series’ world premiere is on September 7th at Oakland’s historic Grand Lake Theater, and on September 12th, the entire season will be available to stream online at TheNorthPoleShow.com.
“The North Pole” is written and produced by Josh Healey, produced by Darren Colston (“A Wrinkle in Time”) and executive produced by Movement Generation.
The show stars Reyna Amaya (“All Def Digital”) as Nina, Donte Clark (“Romeo is Bleeding”) as Marcus, Santiago Rosas (“Home Front”) as Benny, and Eli Marienthal (“American Pie”) as Finn. Special guests include comedian W. Kamau Bell, hip-hop artist Mistah Fab, Black Panther hero Ericka Huggins, and emcee and activist Boots Riley.
Take a look at the web series’ entertaining trailer below.