Over the last few years, Netflix has released several shows centered around high school: Sex Education, American Vandal, Elite, the list goes on. However, the streaming service's newest series, Chambers, is not your typical teen dramedy. The show follows Sasha Yazzie, a student who has a heart attack and receives a heart transplant — which sounds heavy enough, but is nothing compared to what happens next. The high school at Chambers' center, Crystal Valley, isn't real, which honestly, should come as a relief to anyone watching. But the show is authentic in a different, much more important way.
Much of the story is steeped in Native American culture and spirituality, and despite Chambers' supernatural premise, there seems to be a conscious effort to represent that accurately. According to Native News Online, Chambers is the first Netflix series to star a Native American woman. The site states that while the character of Sasha is Navajo and Mexican, star Sivan Alyra Rose grew up on the San Carlos Apache Reservation near Globe, Arizona, where her uncle is the current tribal chairman. Griffin Powell-Arcand, who plays Sasha's boyfriend TJ, is also an indigenous person, and his character explores his Native identity throughout the show. (According to the Verge, the show is set near a Diné reservation in Arizona.)
"[Chambers] attempts to show realistic lives of Native Americans," Rose told Native News Online. "We have a writer who is Native American and Native Americans in casting." The 19-year-old actor further emphasized the importance of Native representation in a Twitter AMA, saying, "My hopes and dreams for Chambers is that we just recognize that indigenous representation is important and should be a forefront in conversation — I'm glad Netflix is doing it. I just hope that teen girls see Sasha, feel like Sasha, and pursue their dreams past that. Because I don't want to be here by myself."
In another Twitter AMA answer, Rose said, "To prepare for the role of Sasha — I am myself a Native American girl, I am 19, so I'm still technically a teenager, and I'm fresh out of high school, so preparing for Sasha was very innate. And I wanted to create something authentic of — at least a part of me was in her. And it's just an honor to portray contemporary Native Americans in Hollywood today." Indeed, it's a huge deal that Rose is starring in her own Netflix show, and while it's disheartening that it's taken this long for these characters' stories to be told onscreen, hopefully, Chambers can help pave the way for more.
As for Crystal Valley, there is a Christian high school called Crystal Valley in Dundee, New York, though that's obviously not the one being portrayed in Chambers. Series creator Leah Rachel said in a statement obtained by Entertainment Weekly that Chambers takes place "in a mystic, New Age pocket of Arizona," which is a far cry from New York. Ultimately, though, it's not the high school that matters, but the students (and the actors who play them) that are bringing it to life.