January 28, 2013 at 10:25PM
By Tommi Lewis Tilden
Every six months, TV writers gather in Los Angeles to preview new shows and interview the castsone highly-anticipated panel was IFCs half-hour social satire, Portlandia, starring and created by Fred Armisen (Saturday Night Live) and Carrie Brownstein.
Fred and Carrie met when her band Sleater-Kenny performed on Saturday Night Liveand creative sparks flew. What started as short videos about Fred and Carries comedy take on Portland morphed into Portlandia, under the brilliant direction of their third partner, Jonathan Krisel.
So, why Portland? Besides being Carries hometown, the city is a breeding ground for PC satire. Its the most sane city, insists Krisel. Everyone in the city has kind of collectively decided, Were going to have a great life. If we work or dont work, were going to support our local restaurants and grocery stores and drink our local coffee. When youre there, its like utopia.
Carrie begs to differ. I think [Portland] is totally insane. I think to live in a way thats, like, meaningful and good, takes a lot of thinking and over thinking. Its a beautiful center you can focus on, but on the periphery is a lot of craziness, for sure, which is what makes the city charming.
That craziness translates to eccentric, bold, and funny sketch characters, like Portlands openly reggae mayor, overly eco-conscious couple Peter and Nance, and Toni and Candice, uber-feminist proprietors of Women and Women First bookstore. In this season, Peter and Nance open up a B&B, says Carrie. Peter and Nance are a very unctuous and cloying couple. They formed such an imperfect boundary with one another, and its so easy to create tension. Its fun to play with this intense dynamic that can so easily be thwarted.
Just about every city in America can point to a Portlandia-like bohemian/hippie contingent, you know, the folks who work a bit too hard at being spiritual, conscious, and politically correct. This allows the show to hilariously poke fun at these activists and hipstersthe crafty DIYers who sew, paint, and stencil birds on everything in a Put a Bird on It campaign; insanely overprotective dog parents at a dog park; people with obscure allergies bringing awareness to their ailments at the Allergy Pride Parade; overzealous eco-minded sanitation twins starring in a preachy PSA; and the generation we love to hate parodied in Dream of the Nineties, a music video lauding Portland as the place young people go to retire.
Portlandias not about to retire, with the newest season featuring guest stars like Roseanne Barr, Jeff Goldblum, Chloe Sevigny (playing a transplant from Seattle and Fred and Carries new roommate), Patton Oswald, and Martina Navratilova. New season 3 episodes are on IFC, Fridays at 10 pm ET/PT.