keeping the dream of the 90s alive
Sketch comedy from Austin's sister city: Portlandia returns with another seasonof hipster-centric humor
Get psyched: Portlandia is back. The acclaimed IFC sketch show, written by and starring Carrie Brownstein (of Wild Flag and Sleater-Kinney) and Fred Armisen (of SNL fame), has started its second season.
Centering on a city known for its abundance of hyper-alternative niche communities (pickling enthusiasts! feminist booksellers! militant environmentalists!), Portlandia is both a take-down of the calculated whimsy that defines many a stereotypical hipster, and a brilliant interpretation of the ways we interact with and react to the people we meet everyday.
The first episode of season two, “Mixology,” premiered this past week, featuring cameos from comics Kumail Nanjiani and Andy Samberg. This week's installment, “One Moore Episode,” centers around a couple’s quest to commission new episodes of Battlestar Galactica and includes a guest spot from grunge god Eddie Vedder (check out some clips, here and here; you can also see behind the scenes video from their recent live tour on their site).
Many of the show's themes seem familiar: Portland and Austin are similar cities in many respects, from thriving indie business scenes to scores of bands trying to make it big, the focus on locally sourced foods and crafts to the abundance of idealistic 20-somethings trying to out-intellectualize each other. (There’s even a “Keep Portland Weird” mural in the intro.)
Observer reporter Drew Grant attended Portlandia’s NYC premiere party this past Thursday, which drew a comic-heavy crowd that included most of the SNL cast. Despite the fact that she was, hilariously, high on shrooms the whole time (accidentally, she swears), she managed to talk to Armisen about the fact that while the show is set on the West coast, the in-jokes about hipsters and hippies resonate with citizens of other, similar places:
“Portland’s got a lot of sister cities … Williamsburg, Tokyo, Austin…that culture can be found in so many places now.” The pandemic of 20-something liberal arts majors in large cities whose tastes run towards raw foods, hypocritical eco-snobbery, and a fanatic disdain of anything “mainstream” could explain the show success: to date, it’s had the highest ratings of any show on the network.
We're looking forward to seeing what tropes Brownstein and Armisen target this season — with upcoming episode titles like "Cool Wedding" and "Cop Redesign," they're sure to introduce some epically eclectic new characters.
And last week, in San Francisco for the Portlandia tour, Armisen and Brownstein were joined by musicians Thao & Mirah for a cover of Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It" that's so badass, we're hoping the pair have plans to team up in the studio as well as onstage:
Portlandia airs Fridays at 9 p.m. Central on IFC.