Thursday, February 10, 2011


I was excited for Portlandia as soon as I heard about it. Fred Armisen's been entertaining me on SNL for years and is clearly a talented dude. And Carrie Brownstein was a member of one of my all-time favorite bands, Sleater-Kinney. Would a comedy show made by these two work? I didn't care, but I obviously had high hopes.

Three episodes have aired so far (IFC, "it's Friday, it's 10:30, time to party...") and they've totally delivered!

It's easy to make fun of things you hate, but the people who make this show poke fun at themselves and a lot of the things "my generation" are into. The show takes place in Portland, but it could be about any progressive, coffee-shop filled area. The first bit on the first episode set the tone for the whole concept of the show: a video for a song called "The Dream of the 90s is Alive in Portland." From there they've gone on to make fun of the extremes people take their lifestyles to. For example: I love the fact that we "adults" have said, "we liked playing kickball as kids, let's form leagues and play as adults." But at the same time, this concept is dying to be made fun of by the very same generation it's geared toward. Would I play hipster bocce in downtown Providence if someone invited me? Sure. But do I make fun of those same people as they play in front of me while waiting for the outdoor summer movies to start? Definitely. (While some other passerby makes fun of me for watching an outdoor movie, and on and on....) So on the show, one of the skits they did was "adult hide and seek," which took place in a library. The old lady telling the 20-something to get a job as he hid under her chair was priceless.

As someone whose girlfriend is in the "craft" world, we get to spend a lot of time seeing the amazing work of unique, creative people. But also, duh, we get to make fun of a lot of incredibly bad "art"! One skit in Portlandia has two crafters improving every knick-knack they come across by simply "putting a bird on it." Brilliant.

It's basically just a great look at certain fringe people and how they view and are are viewed by "normal" people. Every stereotype gets taken on, from feminist book store owners to bike messengers to dumpster divers. All done benevolently by people who most likely have lived the life or are close to those who do.

And the musician/comedian star power of Brownstein and Armisen brings a lot of cool cameos to the show. Along with great music and comedy, of course.

Here's their site if you want to check out some clips.

I've only seen the first one ("Portland is where young people go to retire!") but I thought it was pretty great. There is a pretty rich seam of comedy there, it has the potential to be a *good* version of 'stuff white people like'.

And yeah, those people playing ironic bocce last summer were my friends...
Pains me to not have that channel. The clips have me tears.

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Location: Rhode Island, United States